Many of you will be dusting off your ski’s, waxing them and checking all your gear but have you thought about preparing your body? If not, don't worry, we are here to help.
Making sure your body is ski ready is crucial to your trip, as it will improve your performance and limit the chance of falling and injury. There are two aspects of fitness needed; cardiovascular and strength. If you improve these during the weeks before you go then you will be able to make the most of a day on the slopes and still have energy for the all-important après ski!
Firstly you need to ‘prep’ the muscles you will be using. By that, I mean strengthen them so that they can cope with the demands placed on them. And secondly you need to increase your cardiovascular fitness. It's a good idea to do regular exercise (2-3 times a week) leading up to your trip - swimming, cycling, running or walking.
You use lots of different muscle groups when you ski. I've included them all below, with a few exercises to help you on your way:
Core and Back (Abdominals, Pelvic floor, Obliques and Spinal erectors) – When you are in a bent over position skiing, your back has to hold you upright, but you also need to be stable and well balanced to stay on your feet. Your core and back will be working hard throughout and it is very important for these muscles to function well so that they can protect your spine.
Core – Plank, Side plank, Plank on an unstable surface
Extensor - Swiss ball extensions
Back of thigh and buttocks (Hamstring and Glutes) – Skiing requires you to hold your body in a flexed position i.e. leaning forwards from the hips and requires strength from your hamstrings and glutes. The outside muscle (Gluteus medius) is also used a lot to push your leg out to the side. It isn’t used like this in other sports very often and can therefore be weak.
Hamstring – Swiss ball roll outs
Glute med – Clams (lying and standing)
Glutes – Step ups
Front of thigh (Quadriceps) – This is probably the most used muscle group used during skiing and it works in two ways to keep your knee in the correct position - the muscle contracts to straighten your leg and it also contracts as it lengthens, to control the bending of your knee. This second one is called an eccentric contraction and is often forgotten about.
Inner and outer thigh (Glute med (again) and adductors) - Your inner thighs have to work really hard to keep your skis together otherwise without them you’ll be doing the splits... ouch! Also vital to performance and your outer thighs which stabilise you and help steer.
Calf (Gastrocnemius and Soleus): - In the skiing position your knees are bent and therefore the calf has to contract to hold you upright and stop you falling forwards.
A lot of muscles are working hard when you ski and help to keep you agile, controlled and balanced, and above all, protect you.
If these muscles aren't working as they should, you could end up being injured or falling as you ski, so it’s really important to do the work before you go away so that you can enjoy it while you’re there.
If you are due to go skiing in the New Year and need some advice, or want to know how to do the exercises safely and effectively, I'm always happy to help.
Take care and have fun - Bridget