Dr. Richard D’Agostino, board-certified sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at OAM, offers injury prevention advice including exercises to begin at home and tips for the day you’re hitting the slopes.
Skiing can be one of the most enjoyable winter activities and is a great sport the entire family can enjoy. A targeted conditioning program can make all the difference to help prevent injury.
Skiing is predominantly a lower body sport and it pays to train the muscle groups of the entire kinetic chain. This means working the core muscle groups (abdominal muscles and the lower back), the hips, the thighs, the knees and the calves. Some upper body training can also be helpful. Training for the ski season should (ideally) begin 2-3 months before that first run.
Here are six key exercises that can improve strength and conditioning and help prevent injury:
Begin by lying on your stomach. Lift your whole body up, supported by your forearms and toes. Lift your right leg and left arm straight out. Lower back down and repeat with left leg and right arm. Repeat for10 repetitions on each side.
Begin standing with weights in your hands (can start with 5 lb. dumbbells or lighter). Keep your knees slightly bent, your stomach muscles tight and your back flat. Let your arms and trunk move forward, keeping your chest up. Lift back up and repeat for 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
Double legged squats
Begin standing with a medicine ball at your waist. (Alternatively, you can use weights in both hands.) Lower your hips to the floor, keeping your stomach tight, your back flat, and your knees in line with your toes. Lift back up and repeat for 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
Single legged squats
Stand holding a medicine ball. Squat down on one leg, keeping your hips, back and your knee in line with your toes. Try not to lean your trunk or let your knee fall inward. Repeat for 2 sets of 15 repetitions on each leg.
Begin with a medicine ball at your waist. Take a large step to the side; sit your hips back and squat down, keeping the opposite leg straight. Lift back up, step together and repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions with each leg leading.
Stand with your heels hanging off a step. Pick up your left foot. Standing on your right leg only, lift your heel all the way up, then back down slowly. Repeat for 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg.
Additionally, there are things you can do to condition your body right before and during your day on the slopes:
Warm up: Taking the extra few minutes to acclimate yourself by doing some light runs on an easy trail can put the body and mind in the right framework for the more difficult runs that lie ahead. Some light stretching can also be helpful to stimulate the muscles that will play an important role in skiing.
Cool down: Stretching (preferably by maintaining a certain pose for 15-20 seconds at a time and repeating that for 3-5 repetitions) can loosen up the muscles and prepare them for the necessary recovery after skiing.
Know the risks and minimize them: Most skiers know that the risk of injury increases in the afternoon or early evening as individuals become more fatigued. So it pays to STOP WHEN YOU ARE TIRED! However, the risk of injury also increases when visibility is decreased, when a skier skis above his or her skill level, or when the ski conditions become very icy or very soft. When these factors are present, instead of skiing the more difficult slopes, you should consider easier runs.