A Whole9 guest post by Eva T., two time Olympian in Alpine Skiing and a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team
The majority of seasonal skiers I speak to do nothing to prepare for the ski season. They simply hope it won’t be their year for a tweak or an injury. Then, there is the other population who want to make it to the next level in their skiing and prep for the season, but they are missing specific components to their program. Finally, there is the skier who is totally on it and is serious about going hard this season; they have great programs, but need an adjunct or a travel plan to stay consistent with their workouts. So, we have the totally unprepared skier who hopes for the best; the motivated skier who misses the mark; and the well-prepared pro who needs a little extra.
The important thing to remember for all levels of skiers looking foreword to the season is that there are some specific movements that are unique to skiing and you need to address them before buckling up those ski boots. I am not talking a full conditioning program, I am speaking of tissue prep, waking up those nerve pathways and putting your body into the corners you challenge when you’re on a black diamond mogul run and have lost control of your speed. And, what if you fall? It makes sense to prepare with movements that will give you that bit of protection that draws the line between being sore, and ending up at the doctors office. From the 10,000 foot level, here’s my advice.
Tips to get ready for ski season:
- Make sure your range of motion off the slopes, matches your range of motion on the slopes. This means that you should be able to move freely into all the positions you will potentially be in when you are on snow. This does not necessarily mean stretching, it means being able to move dynamically into and out of those positions.
- Be “full body” strong, meaning it is not only legs we need for skiing but a fully functional body to withstand spills. A minimal amount of conditioning can shield you from serious injury. That’s not a guarantee, but a little bit of effort will pay off greatly! Can you handle 20-30 minutes a day?
- Make sure your spine stabilizers are awake and strengthened. Your body inherently protects the spine through isometric contraction, meaning that if you twist your spine in an unusual attitude, the muscles around the spine will “brace” you to avoid a catastrophic outcome. That is why it is important to practice gymnastic-like holds pre-season.
- Train reaction time and quickness so you can signal your body to keep you on your feet. The ability to make a quick change of direction is mandatory for safety and performance. Don’t let your first crack at moving quickly from side to side be when you are pressed between two other skiers! Prepare yourself by doing skiing-like, quick movements off the snow.
- Check in with your knees and hips to see if they can still angulate and bend to full range of motion. We rarely, if ever, do much angulation in our day-to-day lives. Working on angulation movements prepare us for a head start on the season.
Plant your foot on the ground and angle your shin bone across the plane of the floor, like this:
Angle your whole leg across the plane of the floor, keeping your upper body fairly upright, like this:
Consider this a menu for different levels of skiers and their training, plus some main points on preparing your body for the ski season. Remember, the movements in skiing are far from what we do in daily life, and often far different than anything we do in the gym.
Preparing your body, even if it is a minimalist approach will help you enjoy a safe and productive ski season. For more specific workouts please look out for my e-book, SkiStrong Pocket Workouts coming out mid October that will walk you through a 28 day cycle of workouts that take under 30 minutes, need no equipment, and will get your body revved up for the season!
Eva T. is a two time Olympian in Alpine Skiing and a 12 year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team. She is a World Technical Skiing Champion and has won 6 National Championships, a World Championship Bronze Medal and, in 2011, was inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. She is also a Masters Weightlifting Champion and is now applying her experiences, training, and education as a Kalish Institute Certified Functional Wellness Practitioner to helping others achieve and maintain health, strength and fitness. Hundreds of people from all walks of life have benefited from her popular, safe and solid, personal and online coaching and health orientated recommendations.
(Top photo credit: Skistar Trysil /cc. Example photos by the author.)
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