If you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to hit the slopes this winter, but before you dust off your skis and polls and snap on those boots, it’s wise to get in shape physically in order to avoid injury that could sideline you for the season. Physical therapists and sports trainers suggest several key things to focus on:
Strength training your core and legs
Think about all the leaning you need to do to steer yourself in the right direction while skiing. You need a strong core to do it. To strengthen your core, try holding a plank position for 60 to 90 seconds, then repeat two more times. Lower-body strength training is also extremely important for downhill skiing with the risk of knee injury and other muscle and joint injury that it presents. Lunges and squats are an easy way to go or you can use a weight machine to work on hamstrings, quads and buttocks. Do three sets of 8 to 12 reps. Keep building muscle by adding weight gradually (you can hold hand weights while you’re doing squats and lunges). Do this strength training two to three times each week.
You want to have the endurance to make it down challenging runs all day, so get ready by doing cardiovascular exercises now such as running, cycling or hiking. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes at least three times a week.
Prepare your body for those sudden turns and stops by doing lateral jumps. Start with feet hip-width apart and sit back into a shallow squat. Then spring up and jump to the side, trying to land as softly as possible before immediately jumping back to the other side. Do this for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat two more times. Jumping rope and running stairs are also good high-impact workouts.
The more flexible you are, the better you’ll be able to handle the various ways you’ll need to stretch and bend while skiing. Stretching is an easy way to increase flexibility or you can try incorporating yoga poses into your workout. Almost every yoga pose improves flexibility, and as an added bonus, yoga also improves strength and balance.