Pre-Season Snow Skiing Conditioning

By: peaksports-admin | Posted: 07/08/2015

The baseball playoffs have begun, pumpkins are for sale in front of the local grocery store and the leaves are starting to fall. Mother nature is whispering her annual reminder. "Get ready to ski." The freezing levels have been as low as 6000 ft. recently the snow is on it's way. You'll probably get the skis' waxed right? You may have even checked airfare or hotel rates for your favorite ski destination. Finally found that comfortable pair of boots? OK all that stuff is ready but what about the thing that makes the skis go? No not gravity. It's you and your muscles, joints and psyche. Our bodies are the most important piece of ski equipment we have. Unfortunately we can't go out and buy a new one when it ceases to perform the way we'd like. We have to go build the body we have into the body we want. A study was done a few years ago which reviewed emergency room cases involving skiers. From this research they concluded that skiing on consecutive days and skiing at the end of the day progressively increased the risk of injury. Specifically they said to avoid skiing after 5 pm on the 5th day because injury was almost certainty. They equated the increased injury risk with fatigue. Another way of saying that is the better conditioned you are the less risk of injury you will have. If you are well prepared you'll feel it. You'll have more fun and feel great maybe even have the confidence you need to try a few runs you have avoided in the past.

When it comes to pre season conditioning for skiing it's good to work backwards from when we expect to begin. Unless you hike local glaciers and ski down during the summer, chances are you'll begin skiing somewhere around December 1st each year. Giving yourself 6-8 weeks to train and prepare for that first day means the time to start is now. The forces our bodies are subjected to when we ski are so large it's silly not to be physically prepared to handle them. Besides, better preparation means better skiing and more fun.

OK enough of the convincing that it's important, let's get down to business. What can you do to better prepare for upcoming ski season? To begin with if you have any lingering back injuries or leg injuries get them taken care of first. When performing pre-season conditioning the first assumption is that you are uninjured and capable of doing the exercises without pain or abnormal compensation. Below are a few exercises that should help you have a great year. Pick the ones that seem to work best for you. If you want or need additional assistance come see us at one of our seven convenient locations where we serve the communities in which we live with our three pillars of treatment: Patient education, manual therapy and exercise. Just stop by, give us a call or leave us an email. See you on the slopes.

Balance: Even though we stand on both skis, much of the time is spent with our body weight on just one leg. Individual leg balance is key. Try this series. First balance standing on one leg. Don't let your legs touch. If you're steady for 30 seconds try again with one eye closed. If you're steady that way for 30 seconds try balancing with both eyes closed until you can routinely be steady for 30 seconds on either leg.

Squat around the clock: Now try standing on one leg which will be the center of an imaginary clock face. As you perform a squat on that leg reach forward with the other heel out towards the "1" then the "2", "3" and so on. The idea is that you are balancing on one leg as you squat with your body weight moving in varying directions. Go as far around the clock as you can and make the clock face as large as you can. As you work around the clock face you'll eventually touch the numbers with your toe instead of your heel. Try it on each leg.

Prisoner speed squats: This is a great exercise even though there is no balance component because it requires you to have control with speed. Just like skiing. With this exercise stand with feet at shoulder width or slightly wider. Place your interlocked hands behind your head in the "prisoner" position. While keeping your head up and your body tall you squat down as far as comfort and control allow and come back up. Only you do this as fast as you possibly can. Don't worry about counting just do this for time. If done properly it's quite intense so start with just 15 second sets and build up from there. The trick is to squat as fast as possible without taking off into a jump.

Prisoner squat jumps: Now we're jumping but remember what goes up must come down and the landing is a key part of this exercise. The starting position is the same as with the prisoner squats only after you squat down, explode up with the best jump you have. Then on the return land "softly" as you transition down to the "bottom" of the squat and jump right back up again. If done properly your muscles absorb the shock of landing not your joints.

Squat jumps with turn: With this one go ahead and put your arms down by your side as they might be when your skiing you want to use them to assist with your jumping motion. With this squat jump you face your upper body straight while your feet point 45 degrees off to one side. When you jump into the air you switch your leg orientation to 45 degrees to the other side. Just like with others land softly and have one landing immediately and smoothly blend into the next jump.

Squat jump side to side: Again with this one allow your arms to be by your side as if your were skiing. This time when you squat down to jump you'll be trying to explode up enough to land about three feet away to one side. Land softly absorb with muscles and explode back the other way and keep it going in a smooth blend jump after jump.

Tele skiers squat jumps: For those of you who like the hardest way down the mountain, I have an exercise for you too. For you begin in a position that looks like tele skiing. One leg out in front of you with a 90 degree angle at the ankle, knee and hip and your body tall. The other leg is behind you with about a 90 degree angle at the knee and your weight on your toes not a flat foot. From this position explode up into the air and while in the air switch your feet so that the front leg is in back and the back leg goes out in front. Land softly, absorb and explode back up switching again and repeat. Just like the others you want muscles absorbing shock not joints. If you do this well your feet with land in just about the same spot every time and your feet will be quiet. If you have "loud" feet you are landing too hard and might get hurt. Remember keep your body tall as you do this. You want your torso to be a strong powerful pillar that your legs can work from.

Lower trunk rotations: One last exercise for the torso to assist you with your turns. Lie on your back with your hips and knees up at 90 degree angles. Your shins should be parallel to the floor and your legs should be together as one. Slowly lower your legs down to one side towards the floor. You go as far as you can before your opposite shoulder feels like it's trying to lift up. At that point stop, change direction and rotate over to the other side and repeat. Only go so far as your body's range of motion will allow which is when the opposite shoulder starts to lift up. Go back and forth at a deliberate not too fast of pace. You should feel some work in the mid section. This is the same kind of motion your body has to do with every turn.

Come and see one of us if you would like further instruction or help cleaning up a nagging injury before you start.

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