We have already seen some skiers and snowboarders in the clinic over the last couple of weeks and we have had lots of patients asking how they can prepare for their upcoming trips. The key is preparation, the more prepared you are, the better your performance will be and it will help reduce the chance of injuries.
A week in the mountains skiing or snowboarding can be quite physical, in between all those hot chocolates (obviously, nothing stronger!) and long sunny lunches. But fear not, there are a handful of simple exercises and stretches that could help you prepare for your week away.
Quads, Quads, Quads.
These are the muscles on the front of your thighs. They start around your hip and travel over the top of your knee cap to insert on to your tibia – your shin bone and are very important for both skiers and snowboarders.
One way you can strengthen your quads is with non-weighted squats. You want to make sure your knee is traveling over the middle of your foot (between 2-3rd digits) and that they are not moving into the mid line. Start with 20-30 reps per day and once you’re feeling stronger add a small weight.
A VMO strengthening exercise specifically targets your most medial quad (Vastus Medialis) which is often the weakest of the four muscles. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and place a rolled-up towel under your knee, so your knee is slightly flexed. Then straighten your leg fully, so its not flexed at all – you should see your most inner quad muscle fire up with this movement. This should be repeated for both legs, 15-30 per day.
Cycling or spinning classes and running may also be helpful in building up quad strength and aerobic capacity. Maybe throw a few dreaded burpees into the mix as well!
If you’re going to strengthen your quads, you also need to strengthen your hamstrings!
Straight-Leg deadlifts are a good isolated exercise for the hamstrings and can be done with a light weight. Stand up straight with your knees slightly bend, slowly bend at your waist by pushing your buttocks back. Keep your back straight and lower the weight slowly to just below your knees. Then straighten up and repeat. Start by doing 10-15 repetitions.
With skiing and snowboarding your gluteal muscles (your bum muscles!) are very important, especially your gluteus medius.
One of the best way to strengthen your gluteus medius is with a clam exercise. Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent. Keeping your ankles together, lift your top knee and lower again – like a clam! Make sure you down roll backwards – you should feel a bit of a burn in your gluteal muscles, not in your lumbar spine.
Improving your spacial awareness can also be helpful for skiing. Proprioception is your bodys positional sense – where your brain thinks your arms, legs and body are. You can improve this simply by standing on one leg, to begin with, with your eyes open and once you are stable enough you can close one eye, and then close both eyes. Have your hands over a stable surface in case you lose your balance. Do this on each leg for 1-2mins per day (when brushing your teeth is an easy way to work it in to your daily routine & you have the sink to hold on to.)
If you go to a gym, they might have a wobble board or a Bosu balance trainer but only do this once you’re stable standing on a hard surface.
So, there it is, a few simple exercises that will help prepare for your week on the slopes. If you have any underlying health issues, always check with your GP before starting any new exercise regimes. And remember an Osteopath could help you with any aches or niggles – knees, hips, lumbar spine or neck issues before your trip to make sure you’re in tip top shape!