Slope Fit

Posted on December 15, 2014

Woman skiingSlope fit

Feeling fed up and off-piste with exercise? Try ski based moves to revamp your workout routine and build strength, agility and flexibility to improve your body's performance. Let's look at the key areas that will provide ski fit form.

Quads and knees

An experienced skier can hold their body in complex poses for long periods of time, thanks to powerful quad muscles supporting the knees. Refining and strengthening the quad muscles and knee joints will improve all leg movements, not just those used for taxing exercise such as skiing.

A simple at home exercise is a wall sit. Put your back to the wall and shuffle towards the ground, keeping the feet still, until your knees are at a 45 -degree angle. Hold the move for around 30 seconds, or for as long as feels comfortable and slowly build up wall sits in sets to improve strength. To stretch the joints and muscles after wall sits, stretch one leg at a time by holding the ankle and pulling it towards the body, near the tailbone, which will elongate the quad.

Pelvis

Lower back pain is a problem area for frequent skiers and can often be caused by a rotated or tucked pelvis, which causes the spine to bend and puts strain on surrounding muscles. This same pain can be experienced due to incorrect sitting posture. A relaxed pelvis ensures the spine is stacked in comfortable alignment and can also improve the performance of major muscles including the thighs, hamstrings, glutes and lats1.
 
Mindfulness, rather than vigorous exercise will help to improve pelvis positioning and overall wellbeing. When sitting, take note of your posture and, if the shoulders are rolled forwards, tuck the pelvis forward and push the shoulder blades into the back of the chair. This small adjustment will improve your sitting position and align the spine and muscles. It will also give a taller torso appearance and protect your muscles when you stand up or perform vigorous exercise.

Proprioception

Proprioception, or position sense, is the immediate muscle response to changing environments. Monitored by the nervous system and controlled by the cerebellum in the brain, limbs are assigned to complex tasks thanks to the calculations made intuitively by these organs2. Pro skiers have enviable balance and coordination, and this is all thanks to a sharp proprioception system.

Their refined movement can be fine-tuned off the slopes in a series of training exercises such as lunges, calf raises and squats. For something more challenging invest in a wobble board to improve balance. Master balancing with two feet and then switch to one. The simplest proprioception task is to run forwards and backwards in sets with the focus on refining form, rather than speed3.

Strength and flexibility

Skiing is a high speed sport that can cause problems for the lower limbs and joints. It can also affect the shoulders, wrists and fingers, meaning there is a risk of injury when replicating these moves at home. The Achilles, back and quads are the most susceptible areas, but there are some simple stretches that can prepare them for exercise and relieve them when you're done.

Stretch the Achilles by placing the ball of the foot on a raised object, such as the bottom step of the stairs. Bend the knee of the raised leg and lean forward to feel the stretch.

To strengthen the quad muscles, kneel on one knee, place your hands on your hips and push the hips forward. To extend this pose try rolling up onto the toes and lifting the knee off the floor.

Finally, stretch the back in a lying knee roll pose. Lie on your back, stretch your arms out to the side and bend your knees before rocking the knees from side to side4.

Cardio

Spending 30 minutes on the slopes could burn up to 266 calories5, and exercises all the major muscle groups in the body. Spending 30 minutes conditioning your body for the ski season (even if you're not venturing to the Alps) will keep you fighting fit.

This intense ski based routine is bound to get the heart working, using twists, jumps, dips and squats. Another simple way to get some heart pumping ski moves into your routine is to get out in the garden. Loading up a wheelbarrow and pushing it up an incline mimics the pressure created while skiing, teaching the muscles to manage a dynamic weight6.

If, after all the prep, you want to head out onto some snowy mountains for ski action, make sure you are covered for any accidents that might happen with a Personal Accident Plan.

1 http://www.nzsia.org//moola-bandha-the-path-to-stronger-skiing
2 http://brainblogger.com//what-is-proprioception
3 http://www.ideafit.com/how-to-improveproprioception
4 http://injuryfix.com/archives/stretches-snow-skiing
5 http://www.health.harvard.edu/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-activities
6 http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ski-like-bode-miller

Back