Written by James Adam
Over the last few weeks I’ve been hearing about people heading off or planning amazing holidays to the slopes. So after the holiday is booked and you’ve dug out your salopettes from the loft so you’re good to go, am i right? Wrong. Unless you’re going to plonk yourself in front of a log fire in an apres-ski bar with a stein in one hand and a bratwurst in the other ask yourself these questions. Do you feel unhealthy? Are you deconditioned? Have you had previous injuries (lower limb/knee especially)? Do you want to enjoy your holiday as much as possible and not feel those quads for days later?
If the answer was yes to any of those questions read on!!
Unhealthy? – Get up 20 minutes minutes earlier, beat the winter blues with a homemade juice or glass of ice cold water to get your metabolism firing, play loud music and get out there and work out. It doesn’t have to be in the gym but it can be in the comfort of your own living room.
Deconditioned? Skiing is basically lunges or single leg squats on steroids so ensure you’re pumping away at them (the squats not the steroids) but make sure you’re doing the basics right or else your sloppy form will translate onto your skill on the slopes; you want to resemble a young Bode Miller or Kjetil Andre Aamodt (a quick google search of the top alpine skiiers of all time) not Aled Jones’  snowman! Tailor your squats to your hips; find your sweet spot in terms of how wide your stance needs to be before you ‘butt-wink’ (your hips tuck under your spine). Ensure your knees stay out and don’t go over your toes and your bodyweight is fairly central using your upper body (or upper arms if its a bodyweight squat) to counterbalance. Check? Clench your butt cheeks and tense your quads and squat, squat, squat. As a rule of thumb work your endurance by doing 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Lateral knee stability is key, two of the most common injuries are ACL, MCL ruptures and meniscus tears, prevent that with good knee control with a single leg squat or lunge and plump up your gluteus medius by placing a theraband around your knees (or feet to make it harder) and doing monster walks or speed skaters.
Additionally, you’ll need a strong reactive core to stabilise your lumbar spine while moving at speed, mix it up with longer (30s-1 minute) static holds of a plank or side plank with more explosive strength of a pallof press – remember to repeat both sides (3×15).
Both snowboarding and skiing need great single leg proprioception and balance. Try this, stand on one leg and look at your ankle. Are you as still as a statue or is it really working to maintain your balance; even worse are you using your upper body to balance? A quick fix – brush your teeth on one leg, swapping halfway through. Once you can manage that try turning your head slowly for side to side. For a tougher challenge try out a wobble board!
If you have had previous injuries then you already know you have a ‘weaker’ side. Be more meticulous with your form on this side and look out for any strength imbalances. If you can’t correct this with exercise alone then book in with one of our practitioners to find the root cause.
Improve your endurance by cycling, its low impact on the knees so you’re less likely to injure yourself before you go and great for mobilising the hips and improving strength in the quads and gluteals.
So to recap; put your foot on the gas 20 minutes earlier, juice and give this routine a blast all before you’d normally get up for work!
Gluteus medius activations (speed skaters/monster walks) – 12-15 x 3
Squats – 15 x 3
Lunges/Single-leg split squats – 15 x 3
Plank 30s-1m x2
Side plank 30s-1m x2
Brush your teeth on one leg and cycle for balance and endurance respectively.