Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ready to Ski

Do you love hitting the slopes and cruising through the snow all in the midst of beautiful scenery? If you have ever been out on the slopes, you know how fun skiing is but also how exhausting it can be by the end of the day. Downhill snow sports are some of the most challenging, vigorous, and exciting forms of exercise around.

Skiing is a unique activity in that you can only participate a few months out of the year. It is easy to be excited about getting on the mountain and tell yourself it will just take a few runs to be acclimated but it is important to physically prepare your body in advance.

There are a handful of factors that come into play while skiing. These dynamic factors are the reason a skier can become so exhausted by the end of a long day on the slopes:
·      Changing terrain
·      Shifts in center of gravity
·      Balance
·      Speed
·      Visual perception of terrain

Adjusting to these factors is important for performance as well as reducing the risk for injury. These are basic physical fitness qualities that must be developed to control the dynamic challenges:
·      Endurance
·      Strength
o   Concentric
o   Eccentric
·      Balance
·      Flexibility

Developing all qualities in preparation for a ski trip is simple, requires minimal equipment, and can be added into your regular routine with ease.

Preparing for the slope: 

Cardiovascular endurance

o   A ski run can last from a few minutes to ten minutes. During this time of intense activity, your body will get close to or above your anaerobic threshold followed by periods of rest on the chair lift.
o   To prepare for these bouts of exercise it is most beneficial to incorporate interval training into your exercise routine for increased endurance and cardiovascular recovery.

Dynamic balance

o   The terrain during a ski run varies tremendously. It is important to mimic this in your training.
o   Exercise using a variety of surfaces and equipment for simple body weight exercises that will challenge both balance and stability.
§  Exercise using Bosu
§  Exercise using ½ roll
§  Exercise on grass
§  Exercise on hills

Lower body endurance and strength

o   Skiing requires whole body fitness but the lower half does the majority of work. Concentric strength is needed for push off skating and jumping. The ability for a muscle to eccentrically contract to absorb impact from jumps, bumps and other terrain is just as important.  Also isometric strength is required. Condition concentric, isometric, and eccentric movement for strength and endurance to give the body the ability to maintain performance throughout the day.
o   Focus on performing these movements with:
§  High repetitions
§  All directions
§  Varied speeds
§  Different surfaces
§  Isometric holds


o   As in all physical activities and sports it is important to have both muscular and joint mobility. This will improve performance and reduce the risk for injury.
o   It is important to work on flexibility through stretching but also to increase freedom of movement by training in varied directions.

Correctly prepare for a ski trip and it will be awesome! Remember that preparation continues on the trip and it is import to warm up before your first run. Check out this great dynamic warm-up prepared for skiers from Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist Eric Chandler and come back later this week for Drew Sifflard’s blog post on exercises to improve performance throughout the ski season.

Blog post by Ryan Kempson.

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