What does December to April mean to you? For some it’s winter festivals; cuddling up in front of a log fire and long snowy walks in the countryside. For others though, it means only one thing: skiing.
Yes, it’s time to get out the winter resort brochures and get that hotel booked! But isn’t there something else to do first? Get fit for the season ahead!
You may think you’re in good shape, but skiers and snowboarders use a different set of muscles when out on the slopes. On their own, exercise regimes that look after your cardiovascular system may not be up to the job. Injuries can occur when snowboarding and skiing because you haven’t prepared properly, especially if your job demands you sit behind a desk all day. So whilst you’re deciding where to go this season, follow a simple exercise plan especially designed for getting the most out of those winter sports muscles.
Exercise for the Piste
Let’s begin with most important muscle group for skiing. Strength in these muscles is vital for skiers and snowboarders. These muscles do the work of keeping you in the right position and also protect your knees. Leg strengthening exercises should be at the top of your exercise plan. For people who take to the slopes for the first time, quad strain can be the first thing they experience and this can stop them from fully enjoying the sport. Simple exercises for strengthening quads are step-ups, squats and lunges.
Both inner and outer thighs play a very important role for skiers. They are the muscles that are used to keep your skis in the correct position. We have all seen those hilarious images of first time skiers who legs are moving farther and farther away from each other as they slip and slide down the slope. Skiers use their thighs to keep their legs together as they ski. Simple exercises for strengthening this group of muscles are front lunges and squeeze balls (squeezing the ball between the legs as hard as you can). For inner thighs, side lunges, and squeeze balls can be used to good effect too.
Glutes and Hamstrings
These exercises are all about flexibility. When skiing and snowboarding your body needs to be able to flex, particularly when moving downhill at speed. You need to lean your body to control your direction, speed and stability. This puts tremendous strain on your glutes and hamstrings. Simple exercises for strengthening these muscles can range from simple lunges to more strenuous exercises using weights, sports equipment and discs.
Strengthening the Core
This is so important for skiers and snowboarders. As important as these muscles are for improving the quality of your days on the slopes, exercises to strengthen the core can be amazingly simple to do and require no gym equipment. The last thing you want when enjoying the snow is bad pain. Push-ups help strengthen the core. The plank position is also easy to achieve with results showing in a short time. Lie on your stomach in a straight position and extend your arms to the front of you, then raise your arms and legs as if you intend to take flight. Hold this position for a short time then repeat. Core exercises are incredibly powerful so don’t overdo these exercises. Start with just a few repeats and as your back gets more flexible you can turn on your side and attempt to raise yourself up on one arm. Again these power exercises can show significant results if you stick with them.
Getting fit for your winter sports adventure is a good investment of your time. There will be few days when you are laid up with aching muscles.
Any discussion about planning an exercise regime need to include safety tips. As keen as you are to show off your prowess on the slopes always take care when exercising and follow some simple rules
- Never exercise before doing some simple warm up exercises
- Do exercises correctly. Go to a gym or study the correct exercises from an instructor or a good online source
- Allow yourself to cool down between sets of exercises
- Go at your own pace
- Do not repeat the same exercise too many time as you could strain your muscles
- Drink plenty of water when doing strenuous exercise
- Don’t put your body through exercises it can’t manage
- If you feel unwell or overly stiff do not exercise that day.
The slopes await you. Enjoy!