AVOID INJURY THIS WINTER
By Bill Gabriel, MPT
Ski season is just around the corner in southern California, as the weather
gets colder and the mountains begin to get snowfall. Before you hit the
slopes this year, be sure that your body is prepared to avoid injury.
“Skiing and snowboarding are just like any other sport–they
require training”, notes Dr. Alan Beyer, a sports medicine specialist
at Newport Orthopedic Institute. “These winter sports utilize the
entire body, not just the legs. Having a strong core, primarily the abdomen
and back, is important because it provides stability. The core maintains
a base of support while the arms and legs move. Strength training, flexibility
and cardiovascular conditioning also help you to avoid injury and maximize
Preparation training for skiing and snowboarding should cover three areas:
core (trunk) strength, specific muscle strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular
conditioning. A few exercises are included here to get you going, but
you might want to be efficient and try enrolling in a well-integrated
exercise and movement program, such as Pilates, that can address most
of these areas efficiently at one time.
1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Perform crunches
(2 sets of 15 repetitions), but keep your pelvis stationary allowing only
the upper body to move (the movement is small).
2. Lift the chest (again keeping the pelvis stationary) and twist your
upper body to the right (think of pulling your shoulder toward the opposite
knee – the movement is small again). Return to the center maintaining
chest elevation, then repeat to the left. Try to do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
3. Lying on your back, bring your legs up so that the knees and hips are
both at 90° angles. Keep the knees squeezed together. Rotate the legs
to the right, and then use the opposite side of your abdominals to pull
the legs back to center. Repeat to the left. Try to do 2 sets of 15 repetitions
of this exercise, as well.
1. Wall squats. Stand with your back against a wall with the feet out in
front of you and bend the knees. Lower yourself, until the thighs are
parallel to the floor, then return to standing position. Make sure the
knees stay in line with your feet but don’t go forward beyond your toes.
2. Walking lunges. Take a large step forward with the right leg; lower
your body straight down until the left knee is hovering off the floor
and the right thigh is parallel to the floor. Push off from the left toes
and step forward with the left leg; lower again. Make sure the knees don’t
go forward over your toes or bounce on the floor on this exercise.
3. Calf Raises. Lift up on the ball of your foot, and then lower. Then
progress to walking calf raises; take a step and lift onto the ball of
your foot. You can hold weights in the hands on any of these exercises,
as you get stronger. Try 2 sets of 15 reps on all of the above.
1. Hamstrings. Lie on your back with the towel around the ball of your
right foot. Keep the knee straight and lift the right leg off the floor
until a stretch is felt in the back of the leg/thigh. Then lower your
leg out to the side until a stretch is felt on the inner thigh. Stretch
and hold for a minimum of two 30-second intervals on each leg.
1. To feel better on the slopes and enhance your stamina, cardio conditioning
is essential. You can practice your ski moves on the cross-country machines
at the gym. The elliptical machines provide good work for the heart with
less stress on the knee joints. Try to do at least 30 minutes, with the
heart rate elevated, three times a week.
Investing time in prepping your body now will pay big dividends later on
in terms of performance and injury prevention. Preparing your body for
winter sports may not guarantee that you’ll be the hottest thing
on the slopes this ski season, but it can help you enjoy more time on
the slopes and decrease your risk to injury!