Today, we share some ways to get ready so that you’ll be safer on the mountain. Do this now, because you must train to ski and get in shape, which take time. Set up your program now for your first trip to the mountain. We also have added some safety tips to make sure your ski vacation is an enjoyable one; after all a broken limb may get you autographs, but it will certainly loose its luster very soon.
Improving your fitness prior to your skiing holiday can reduce the risk of injury and increase your enjoyment. Here are a list of exercises to help.
Endurance Exercises: Do start regular cardiovascular activity 3 to 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes duration. This will help prepare your body for skiing so you don’t get as fatigued as you would otherwise. Because of the high altitude, above average aerobics conditioning is preferred. Use an exercise bike, StairMaster, or treadmill. If you don’t belong to a health club, running up and down stairs is a substitute, as is a step aerobic class. What else will get you an aerobic workout? Well, you can jog, swim or cycle, and get the same results. We have written about many of these sports, so look back at exercise articles for information.
Strengthening Exercises: To strengthen a muscle it should be overloaded. Increases in the resistance, weight, time the position is held, and number of repetitions or sets will help to overload muscles. Three sets of ten repetitions is a common goal.
Hip Strengthening: Lie on your side, lift your top leg slowly up towards the ceiling, and then slowly lower. After you are done with your first set, flip over and repeat with the other leg. You can add weights or cords for resistance if desired.
Calf Raises: Stand on the floor, hands on a wall, and raise your heels standing on your toes. Once you are comfortable with that, try this same exercise using a stair or step or curb, and allow your heels to go below stair level, then raise to your toes.
Wall Sit: Lean against the wall with your knees bent 60-85 degrees making sure they do not go past your toes. Hold for about 30 seconds, gradually increasing to 5 minutes.
Jumps: Bend your knees to about 30 degrees, keeping the upper body straight. Jump 1 foot to the side while tucking your knees up to your chest. Then start all over to the other side. Start with 10 repetitions and gradually increase to 3 minutes.
Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly squat down with your knees bending over your second toe, then slowly rise. Never squat below a seated position. I always think of a squat as trying to sit on a chair and at the last minute realizing it’s not there so I have to stand up.
Lunges: We do these in exercise class along with the rest of these exercises, and to tell the truth, they are not my favorites but they are great for strengthening and balance too. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward taking a long stride with one leg, bending the knee until reaching a 90 degree angle. The back knee will bend until it almost touches the ground. repeat with the other leg. If you want you can add hand weights to increase resistance.
X-Jumps: Mark a “X” on the floor with tape. Jump in each of the four areas, for example from 1 to 3 or 2 to 4. Repeat for 1 minute. You’ll know what aerobics means.
Now you will need to do some stretches. Note that each stretch should be held for 30 seconds. As you hold the stretch your muscles will release. Things to remember about stretching are that it should not cause pain, but they should produce a feeling of gentle tension. Never, never bounce when you stretch. We all know that one because sometimes it makes the position easier, but don’t. Finally stretch on warmed-up muscle. The best time to stretch is after a workout.
Lower Leg Stretch: This is an Achilles tendon stretch. Stand at arms length from the wall. Put one leg in front to stabilize yourself. Lean forward, until you feel a stretch in the back lower leg. Keep the heel of your back leg on the ground. After holding this position for 30 seconds, bend your knees still keeping your heel on the ground. repeat back and forth 3 to 5 times. Alternate legs.
Quadriceps Stretch: While standing, support yourself with one hand on a wall. Reach with your other hand and grab the foot from the outside pulling it toward the buttocks until you feel the stretch and repeat with the other thigh.
Hamstring or Back of Thigh Stretch: While seated with your feet together, reach down and grab your ankles or toes. Keep your knees straight. Hold until you feel the stretch in the back of the thigh.
Butterfly Stretch: Sit straight with the bottoms of your feet together. Pull your feet towards your groin and let your knees fall out to the side. Slowly push down on the inside of your thighs and hold once your feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. With each try bring the feet closer to the groin.
Hip Flexor Stretch: This is the way I end every exercise session that I do for myself. Kneel on the floor. Place one leg back. Lean forward stretching back the back hip. Hold, then switch the legs. Finally sit back, trying to get your hips on your legs and stretch forward, head on floor, with your arms as far ahead of you as you can, so that you feel a stretch in your entire back.
Hip Stretch: Here’s another on that just plain feels good. While seated, bend one leg and cross the other over it-the outside of your foot will be next to the outside of the opposite knee. Twist your trunk toward the knee, placing your elbow on the outside knee. Push the outside knee until you feel the stretch. Unfold your legs and do the other side.
Ham String Stretch: Lie on the floor and grab the back of your thigh and pull it up. Extend the foot vertically until you feel the stretch.
Do start to get into shape early. What ever you do don’t tackle the mountain with weak legs and body muscles. You’re asking for a cast or worse. Next, we’ll talk about ski safety tips.