Skiing or snowboarding can be intimidating sports to learn or get back to after a long break. Fortunately there are several easy and effective ways to prepare yourself year-round on dry land to prevent injury, have fun, and make the most out of your winter season!
Having a Strong Core
The first and most important aspect of preparing for these winter sports is having a strong, balanced, and responsive lumbopelvic core. This is important in order to ensure you have the ability to make powerful and quick turns, avoid trees and other skiers, and maybe even dig yourself out of the powder if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. The other important reason for having a solid lumbopelvic core is because everything down the kinetic chain (hips, knee, ankles, and feet) rely on stability from the core. This can be achieved through several different exercises: 4 way hip on instability foam, side plank clam shells, single leg bridges with marching, single leg reverse lunging, split stance trunk anti-rotation. Another benefit of the above mentioned exercises is that many of them challenge not only the core, but the entire lower extremity. For this reason, your workouts will be both effective and efficient – because no one likes spending all afternoon at the gym.
Increasing Foot and Ankle Stability
One very commonly ignored aspect of training for skiing and snowboarding is foot and ankle integrity and stability. This will prevent the dreaded “foot fatigue” experienced by many skiers and snowboarders in the latter part of the day. The most basic way to train this is by incorporating instability foam, rocker boards, or a BOSU ball into your workout. For instance, if you are performing triceps extensions, perform them while in single leg stance on an instability foam. This way you are not only training your triceps, but also important foot and ankle muscles necessary to ski and snowboard. An even more effective way to utilize instability foams is by performing single leg core and lower extremity exercises (i.e. reverse lunges) while standing on them. This trains not only power and strength, but responsiveness, balance, and proprioception. It is also important not to forget about intrinsic foot strength. This can be improved through an exercise called “short foot” or “yoga foot” in which you stand and actively contract the muscles in the arch of your foot by shortening your foot without curling your toes. Basic over-the-counter arch support orthotics have also been shown to improve certain aspects of proprioception, balance, and foot structure; all of which may help with your skiing and snowboarding performance and reduce risk of injury.
And great news: It’s not too late to start your training for this season. It only takes about 2 weeks to start seeing significant changes in strength, balance, and performance with the above mentioned exercises to ensure you have a safe and stellar winter season! If you have any questions about your winter sports prep, contact our clinic. We’d be happy to help guide you in that process.