5 Key Areas That Should be a Part of Your Ski Conditioning This Winter (Bonus: 6 Week Conditioning Program)
It’s that time of year again! Winter is well and truly here and many of us are excited to get back into our favourite winter activity: hitting the slopes!
Unfortunately, getting injured while skiing is not uncommon, especially early in the season when we demand our muscles and joints move in new and challenging ways.
When you’re looking at getting ready for this year’s ski season, you need to look at more than cardiovascular health. You need to look at a variety of different conditioning areas to make sure your body is ready, willing and able to handle whatever the demands you experience on the mountain.
We believe you should incorporate 5 key areas into your ski conditioning program.
#1: Expand Your Squat Flexibility
Achieving and maintaining good active range of motion and mobility in the lower body is an essential element in preventing injury. For example, if you don’t have the flexibility to squat, how will your body absorb the impact forces when you’re skiing down moguls or over variable snow?
Unfortunately, it will mean that the load goes through the weakest point: usually the knee or the low back.
Action: Ensure that you improve your squat depth range and can control your squat movement depth.
#2: Build Your Core and Hip Strength
Working on core and hip strength is important since these muscles support the spine and pelvis. Stability at the core allows for mobility in the extremities which is needed to adjust to varied terrain and speeds.
Hip strength is often forgotten, but shouldn’t be. When the hip abductors are weak or the glutes aren’t activating properly, the knees are more likely to fall inward which can cause knee pain and lead to decreased control and increased risk of injury.
Action: Incorporate single and double-legged hip strengthening as well as trunk control exercises into your conditioning program.
#3: Don’t Forget About Your Hamstrings
Knee strength and control is a central component to quickly turning while skiing and adapting to varied snow conditions and terrain. Although the quadricep muscles get most of the attention with skiing, it’s important to focus on hamstring strength as well.
The hamstrings are multi-joint muscles that cross both the hip and knee. Given the anatomy, the hamstrings play a key role in stabilizing the knee and rotating the lower leg.
Action: Incorporate hamstring strengthening into your strengthening and conditioning program.
#4: Bring Up Your Balance Game
Learning to maintain balance dynamically is important for preventing falls, especially while skiing over uneven terrain and in flat light.
Here are a few different ways you can challenge your balance:
- Narrow your base of support. This can include feet together or single-leg exercises, standing on an unstable surfaces (pillow, wobble board, Bosu ball, physio ball)
- Challenge yourself by reaching outside your base of support
- Remove your visual cues. This can include closing your eyes or slowly moving your head back and forth or up and down
Action: Get into the habit of challenging your balance reactions incorporating some of the options mentioned above.
#5: Don’t Forget about Power and Agility
Skiing is more fun when you can pop over moguls or bumps and maintain your speed without losing control and giving a show for people on the lift.
Power and agility training gives you the strength and improved reaction times to control your body and skis. Regardless of whether you experience challenging terrain, increased speed or snow density changes, you’ll have the confidence to overcome whatever the mountain throws at you. Staying upright when you catch a ski edge unexpectedly can mean the difference between an enjoyable run and an epic crash and potential injury.
Action: Add some plyometric exercise drills that incorporate varied movements that mimic ski movements into your conditioning program.
Get Our Free 6 Week Ski Conditioning Program
Skiing is a great sport that incorporates epic views, speed, challenging terrain and who can forget the ever sought after epic powder days? Download our bonus 6 week ski program PDF that gives you exercises, stretches and guidelines to help you with your ski conditioning this winter.
If you have any concerns with hitting the slopes this season or have any issues with the exercises above? Book an appointment with one of Innovation Physical Therapy’s experienced physiotherapists by calling one of our 6 clinics located throughout Edmonton and Sherwood Park including Riverbend, Meadowlark, Belvedere, Namao, Sherwood Park or our newest clinic in West Henday.