Summer’s over and that means that the ski season is just around the corner. You have about 2 months to prepare your body to perform movements you do during only one or two weeks every year.
Here are a few tips on how to get ready to perform on the slopes and more importantly remain injury free on your holiday!
Low temperatures can make muscles feel more stiff than normal, and that means that you may have less range of movement, are slower to react and therefore more susceptible to getting injured if you get into an awkward position. Work on improving your flexibility through regular dynamic stretching before and during your holiday.
Skiing involves a lot of flexion and extension of the knees. Your knees will have to absorb quite a lot of impact. Bopping up and down in your ski boots at après-ski won’t help!
Strengthening the muscles around the knee joint is important for preventing injuries to the ligaments in the knee. Squats, split squats and box step ups are all great exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knees. Watch our YouTube videos for instructions.
Your quadriceps straighten your legs. Skiing requires a lot of strength in the quadriceps as they are essentially in an isometric position for much of the day. Your quads stabilise the knee joint and prevent excess knee rotation. Skiing involves balance and edging movements, so you’ll want to be able to control excess rotation of your knees. Again, split squats and paused squats are a good way to build strength where you will need it most.
3. Glutes Glutes Glutes
Don’t focus everything on the quads. Many people are quad-dominant and neglect to train the posterior chain. The glutes are the most powerful muscle and often so under-used! Your backside is very important in skiing for stabilising the knees and lower back and they will also help you steer your skis. Activate and strengthen your posterior chain with reverse hypers, back extensions, RDLs, hip bridges, squats, split squats and dead lifts. Videos of these movements can be found on our YouTube channel.
4. Upper body
You might think that your legs do all the work, but one of the most important skills you need for skiing is a strong core for balance. You need to keep your upper body in an upright position and your core will stabilise your pelvis and spine. Planks and the Palof hold are great isometric exercises to build a strong core.
It also can be quite tempting to round your shoulders and look down at your feet, but if you do, then you will end up where you are looking, i.e. face down in the snow! You hear it all the time at the gym… “Chest Up!” Prepare by making sure that the muscles in your chest are not tight (banded pec stretches work well) and strengthening your back with prone/seated rows and chin ups.
5. Cardiovascular work
You may also need to build on your cardiovascular fitness to be able to handle exercising for hours at a time with less oxygen at higher altitudes. Running around the block a couple of times the week before your holiday to prepare for the demands that skiing will place on your body isn’t going to cut it! Start getting ski fit now and you’ll be able to perform better and enjoy your holiday far more.