Ski holiday preparation

By 15th March 2008 August 27th, 2013 Uncategorized

By Nathan Schmid
Tokyo-based personal trainer

How many times do you hear it on the slopes, bars, restaurants and shops “My legs just couldn’t go any more, I had to call it a day.” Or “My first day I skied ‘till 4, next day ‘til 3, and yesterday I came in after lunch.” Not adequately preparing for the rigors involved in a skiing holiday, will not only decrease the amount of time you are able to ski, but it greatly increases the likelihood of getting injured, and experiencing post exercise aches and pains. With a little commitment to preparation; an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of pleasure on your holiday! Particularly if you are involved in sedentary work and a little out of shape, a week or two of skiing can come as quite a shock to your body. Even if it’s too late for you this season, you’re probably planning for next season, so here are some sure fire ways to ensure you are can get maximum pleasure on the slopes when you come back to Niseko next time!

Increase flexibility and improve riding posture
Skiers and snowboarders should primarily focus on increasing the flexibility in their trunk and leg muscles to ensure they are able to assume the correct positioning when going down the mountain. Tight muscles can hinder you from making nice turns, absorbing bumps and also increases your chances of being injured. Here is some of our favorite snow conditioning stretches:

The following stretches should be performed before going to bed and again before hitting the slopes:

Lower calves
• Stand near a wall, bring a leg forward for support.
• Draw your belly button inward.
• Keeping the rear foot flat on the floor bend your rear knee until slight tension is felt.
• Do not allow your foot and/or knee to collapse inward or roll outward.
• Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat for 2-3 reps.

McKenzie press up
• Lie on your stomach. Place hands just outside the tops of your shoulders.
• Inhale deeply and begin pressing upward (push up). As you slowly push up, exhale and leave your pelvis on the floor! It is very important to relax the buttocks & spine muscles.
• As you inhale, slowly lower your body to the floor.
• Repeat 10 times.

• Lie on your back with knees bent to 90 degrees keeping the lower legs relaxed.
• Place your hand on your thigh while keeping the other arm outstretched to help stabilize.
• Slowly let you legs roll to one side until you feel a stretch in the lower back.
• Hold for 5 seconds and then repeat other side.
• Repeat 5-6 reps each side.

• Stand with “tall” posture and grasp one ankle.
• Tilt your pelvis upwards whilst squeezing the butt muscles of the stretching leg.
• Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat for 2-3 reps.

Hip flexors
• Take a staggered stance.
• Draw your belly button inward.
• Tighten butt muscles and do a posterior pelvic tilt.
• Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat for 2-3 reps.
• Avoid arching low back!

• Begin with one leg straight and the opposite bent.
• Both feet face forward.
• Draw your belly button inward.
• Next, slowly move in a sideways motion toward the bent leg until you feel a stretch in the straight leg groin area.
• Hold for 20-30 seconds, repeat for 2-3 reps.
• Switch sides and repeat directions.

Set the core
Most people don’t realise that all movements of the extremities originate in and emanate outward from the ‘core’ of your body. Core activation is essential to stabilize the pelvis and rib cage, which in turn provide the working foundation for the legs and shoulder girdle. Below is our favorite pre-ski core activation exercise:

Alternate knee raise
• Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
• Place your hand directly under the belly button.
• Draw your belly button in towards your spine until you can feel moderate pressure on you hand.
• Raise one foot off the ground until your thigh is perpendicular to the floor, keeping the pressure on the hand at all times.
• Place foot back on the ground and repeat.
• Perform 12-20 each leg.

Improve balance
The undeniable relationship between balance and on-snow performance needs no explanation! It could almost be said that the worse your balance, the poorer your chances of achieving high level performance. Below is our favorite pre-ski balance exercise (always performed after stretching).

Single leg diagonal reach
• Start by standing on one leg, with the knee slightly bent (to about 20°).
• Extend the arms straight out in front of the chest.
• Rotate the arms in the direction of the stance leg, keeping them at chest height.
• Return to the starting position.
• Maintain a tall posture throughout the exercise and good stability through the abdominal complex.
• Repeat 10 reps each side.

With the body limber, and the core activated, all that’s left to do is put it to the test on the mountain! Enjoy the feeling of free movement, and responsive turns as you sail by the unprepared.

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