Hitting the slopes this season? I hope not!
by Dawn McCarron
As a fan of cross-county skiing and a trained Nordic walker, I know just how strong and fit you need to be no matter what your preference of ski style is. Put simply, the better prepared you are for your time on the slopes, the more fun you’re going to have!
Whether you’re a season snow bunny or looking to try the slopes for the first time, let me give you an idea of what you might need to think about prior to any trip…
Fundamentally you will need to recruit your skills in balance and rotary movements to embrace regular steering of your skis, transferring your body weight on the edge of the skis (also applies to snowboarders!) and control throughout all movement.
Developing a strong centre (often referred to as your core or powerhouse in the world of Yoga and Pilates) will help to keep you upright, avoiding falls and enabling you to move squarely down the line.
Most, if not all, of the lower body muscles such as quads, gluts, thighs and abdominals are used throughout the action of skiing and, when pole planting, the upper body muscles are recruited.
Then, of course, there is stamina, without which you will tire and not only have less time on the slopes but likely sustain an injury or fall when the muscles are fatigued.
Finally, you must consider your flexibility, which in skiing terms means ‘how well do you bounce’? However accomplished you are, eventually you’re going to make a mistake and enjoy that moment of reflection, just before you start your nose-plough down the slope. The more flexible and supple you are, the less likely you are to pick up an injury when you do fall.
So much to think about!
Undoubtedly most people fall whilst attempting a turn, so…
Let’s take a look at the three steps of the ski turn…
- Firstly, a transfer of body weight occurs as the body shifts forward. This requires core strength, strong legs and gluts.
- Next, a turn is initiated by shifting the hips that requires mobility and balance as well as strength in the quads, gluts (again) and lower back.
- Finally, The fall line, where the skier increases pressure on the knees and hips followed by preparation for the next turn whilst maintaining speed.
Got all that? Great! Because you have about 3 seconds in which to make sure you engage each of those muscles correctly whilst performing your turn, or you’re gonna have a bad time.
“There must be an easier way” I hear you cry, I just wanna have fun! Well, it may not be easier per se, but specific ski preparation can sure make your experience a whole heap better.
And it just so happens I’m starting such a course next week, on the 2nd November!
- Increased power and endurance to avoid fatigue on the slopes.
- Improved balance and core engagement for quick reactions through trunk
- Leg strength to protect knees.
- Ability to absorb changes in ski angle and terrain.
- Better coordination of movement with breath.
- Overall better condition of muscles to prevent common injuries in knees, shoulders, lower back and wrists.
- Strong mind-body connection.
The course will focus on the following objectives, to ensure we tick off every aspect of a ski-fit body!
- Combination of exercises that combine strength, flexibility and balance.
- Train large muscle groups such as hamstrings and gluts to gain greater strength for stabilization of body in flexed, downhill ski position.
- Train secondary muscles inner and outer thighs that work hard to keep the skis under control and help steer the body.
- Strengthen core muscles to protect back from injury and help with keeping the body stable and so avoiding falls.
- Arms take some ‘hammering’ too with constant pushing and pulling off poles so bicep and triceps exercises to achieve better tone in these muscles.
- Improve stamina using cardio exercises using fitness and Pilates method plus yoga asanas to focus on stretch and to enhance an overall better performance on and off the slopes.
- Strengthen and stretch muscles to help prevent common injuries.
- Build intensity through added resistance and load week by week.