Shred it! Fitness Prep for your Next Ski Trip

by Eric Sharpe

There are three key aspects involved in skiing that if addressed prior to your next trip could help you stay safe and injury free.

Biomechanics
In the Physics of Sports, the subfield of biomechanics refers to the structure and function of the body in relation to the “action of forces” during sporting activities. This includes the dynamics of acceleration, tension, speed, balance, and movement of various body components.

According to Lucy Macdonald, a London based skier and Physiotherapist, “You can become your own body’s mechanic by training it to move in the most efficient way.” Preparing the body for the biomechanical movements required of a skier can include a number of exercises. A few of the basics:

  • Body weight squats on a flipped over Bosu ball.bosu-balance
  • 90-degree wall sits
  • Side lunges & Side lunges onto a step
  • Slide lunges with gliding disk
  • Step downs off a step
  • Box jumps
  • Planks (for you abs)

The number of sets you perform of each is dependent on your ability.

Proprioception
This refers to the “sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.”  In essence this refers to sensory perception in controlling balance and sensory function. This can help your body’s “positional sense and is important for skiing in bad visibility” according to Macdonald. Proprioception exercises challenge your equilibrium and improves your “control” of balance, increases response time on the slope, and can thus help decrease injury.balance-board

  • Balance boards are excellent for practicing balance in the “skiing” position (see image to the right) … but to really hone your sensory functions, try it with your eyes closed. (Always do such exercises with you hand hovering very near a stable object to prevent a fall – be careful and of course, try this at your own risk!)
  • One Leg Balance: Stand on one leg. Raise your opposite leg forward, the bring it to the side, then behind. You can do this either in steps or all as one motion.  Next – try it with your eyes closed!
  • Crossover Walk: Stand with feet in normal stance. Walk forward with your right crossing your left leg, then your left leg crosses over your right.table-top
  • Table Top: Using a mat to protect your knees, get on all fours on the floor in table top position. Make sure the back is flat and the neck is aligned with the spine.

While looking at the floor, raise and extend your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Keep a tight core. Hold for 3–5 seconds and repeat on the other side. (from DrAxe.com)

Cardio
This one is simple.  The longer you can keep your heart rate within the cardio zone in training for a ski trip, the longer you’ll be able to ski and the less likely you’ll succumb to an injury as fatigue can lead to poor decisions on the slope.  Some great cardio exercises for skiing include:elip-squat

  • 90 degree squat run on elliptical. Use the stationary handles while going in the forward motion on the elliptical, extend your arms all the way back while holding on, lower yourself to a 90-degree angle while still rotating your legs forward.
  • wood chop twists.
  • power-incline walking, rowing machine, or stair climbing. (From Active.com)

Obviously, there are a lot more exercises that can be performed to address these three key areas of ski fitness.  Regardless of which you choose, prepping for you next trip with a little bit of work will make your next run all the better.

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