Try These Simple Exercises To Avoid Injury During the Ski Season
Stay healthy and boost your performance with a simple, body-weight circuit
When I strap on my ski boots this winter, I will do so with the inner confidence of a true athlete. At the top of my first run, like an Olympic downhiller preparing to launch from the gate, I will crack my poles together assertively, letting people know that yes, I am prepared for this moment.
That was the plan anyway. But, like last year, that plan was followed by very little actual working out. If you can relate, don't despair! I have learned that it's just as important to maintain an exercise routine throughout the ski season as it is to start strong.
Adding a few simple exercises to your weekly routine will protect you from injury and help you build your skills all season long.
Considering my tendency to avoid fall ski workouts, I knew I would need something simple, easy to learn, and with basically no equipment. With those key ingredients in mind, I went on the hunt and, I am excited to report, found some excellent options!
It All Starts with the Core
What does 12-time Olympic medal winning swimmer Dana Torres know about ski workouts? Well, first of all, if you watch this video, you will notice that 50-year-old Dana Torres looks amazing- she is doing something right.
Secondly, think about how often you are twisting your body as you come down a run. Skiing and snowboarding involves a lot of rotational movement. On top of that, your core is key in helping you maintain a balanced body position against forces generated by hard turns, bumps and landings. A solid core reduces your likelihood of falling, and protects your body when you do fall.
I loved this 6.5 minute core workout video from Dana Torres because it goes beyond the simple plank. She knows her stuff, and shows you which ab muscles are being worked, and how little tweaks can add or reduce the challenge. As I mention after the video, one move in particular has been a revelation! Take a look...
Dana makes it look easy, but remember, she's only 50- it's a tough 6.5 minutes. A strategy to get started- add or replace a few of these moves into the workouts I will share below. And switch it up regularly for variety!
*Special note on Dana's plank with hip rotation: It rocks! I found it to be a really effective rotational move, and the best exercise I have ever tried for working the edges of my abs, giving that "on my way to a six-pack" look quickly! (Also known as the- "I had a six pack in college" look).
The Base Workout, a 10 Minute Circuit
Now comes the base workout. This is a solid, ski-focused body-weight circuit from SELF and Linda Scholl, ski fitness program coordinator at the University of Utah Orthopaedic Center. (Utah = skiing savvy)
This program caught my interest because it has just 6 simple moves and clear animations to show how each is done. And, I can swap in some of Dana's ab moves at the end for variety. Take a look...
There you go- simple, yet effective for the key muscles involved in skiing and boarding. Except one...
The Hips- An Overlooked Area
Thanks to Shakira, I already know that "my hips don't lie."
In addition to Shakira's hips, I found Dr. Tom Hackett to be a trusted source of information. He is an orthopedic surgeon at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, where he works with U.S. Ski Team athletes. According to Dr. Hackett, hip-strengthening exercises are often overlooked when it comes to most people's ski and snowboard workouts, which can lead to unnecessary injury.
In this video and article from The Know Outdoors website, Sonya Garrison, a physical therapist at the Howard Head Sports Medicine clinic in Vail notes that "Weak hips can allow knees to collapse toward the midline of the body while skiing, and that can cause ACL injuries."
Here is a link to the video and article on The Know Outdoors.
Like the previous workout circuit, these exercises can be done at home without expensive equipment. The only thing you need for this circuit is an elastic resistance band. On Amazon, I found a set of 5 bands, offering 4 different resistance levels, for $9.97. Done!
There are certainly other exercises and other workouts that are snow-sports focused. If you think you are tough, just Google "leg blasters" and give that one a try, but don't say I didn't warn you... I chose these not just because they come from experts, but also because they are quick, simple and I can get started right away, which, for me, is essential to getting in a routine.
Plus, my hips are clearly letting me know that it's time to get in gear, and, as we know, they don't lie.
I hope you have a wonderful and safe ski season, and, of course, remember Paleo Eats bars for nutrition on the slopes and your post-workout recovery!