Denver, don’t pack up those boots and gloves just yet. Sure, Spring appears forthcoming: sundresses hit the racks, flip-flops are aplenty, and those malicious jelly beans are taunting us from every store shelf. Before you retire that North Face down coat for the season, remember- it’s not too late to hit the slopes. And it’s not too late to suffer a ski-related injury.
Whichever you prefer, skiing and snowboarding are just one of those hobbies that once you try it for the first time, you are bound to be hooked. Fresh air, gorgeous mountain panoramas, hot cocoa, and speed. Lots of speed. The faster, the better. Surges of adrenaline when you land off of your first jump. When you successfully dominate the moguls. When you narrowly miss that tree.
Since moving to Colorado, I have had to rethink my approach to training: people here move a lot more than anywhere else. There’s a greater drive to achieve and surpass corporeal goals. It also seems that there’s a much greater willingness to take physical risks in the name of sport and recreation– or, as I like to call it: Play now, pay later. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We are living our lives to our best potential, right? Living in the moment, being present, and taking full advantage of what our state has to offer. All I ask is for a little preparation.
Injuries sustained on the slopes are almost a rite of passage- given that you survive them. Every week it seems one of my clients will come it for their workout wearing a sheepish grin, anticipating my reaction to their newest battle wound. These usually range from bumps and bruises to more serious afflictions such as swollen ankles and angry knees. My recent favorite was “I ran into a tree branch”. My first questions were, “Why were you skiing in the trees, and why weren’t you wearing a helmet?”. His response? “The branch knocked the helmet from my head” (you know who you are). Of course, we laugh about it now, but every year tragedy strikes due to loss of control or less-than-ideal weather conditions.
Can’t do much about the weather, so let’s focus on building a solid base of strength and stability to minimize the potential for serious setbacks.
Obviously, leg stabilizer exercises are a given. But think about that core: it holds you up, keeps you up when you begin to fall, and gets you back up after a spill. It needs to be strong, too. Here are some great exercises I put all of my skiers (and some non-skiers) through:
- Mogul jumps. Duh, right? Perfect for training lateral movers in the legs. If you are looking for less impact, try holding a pair of TRX straps to lessen the pounding and increase core activation.
- Wall sit. Targets entire lower body and develops muscle endurance. Make sure, though, that your feet are far enough away from the wall that you can wiggle your toes. Want to make it harder? Place a sponge ball or Pilates ring between your knees, adding a little inner-thigh burn.
- Box jumps. Increases explosive power while also improving joint mobility in hips, knees, and ankles. Land softly, though- crash landings are terrible for the knees, even in the gym.
- Pilates jumpboard. Pretty much anything you do on the jumpboard will help your performance in any sport. If you haven’t done it before, ask someone to show you.
- Plank. Plank. And more plank. Nothing beats it for overall core strength and stability.
Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She currently contributes to 303 Magazine as a Health and Fitness writer. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]