For so many of our patients, colder weather means hitting the slopes for the first time since last year. Winter sports are a fun way to maintain both cardiovascular and muscular endurance, but whether you’re a snowboarder, skier, ice skater, or snow tuber, preparation is key to preventing winter injuries. Here are some exercises to get you started:
** Always consult with a medical professional before starting any exercise program in order to determine your target heart rate and signs/ symptoms of any distress.
Squats are somewhat of a total package for lower extremity strength, including your hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and quadriceps.
Wall Squats with PhysioBall
Start with a physioball behind your back against a wall. Slowly bend your knees, approaching a 90 degree angle. Be sure not to let your knees pass in front of your toes — if they do, step your feet out further. Once you bend down to a comfortable angle, stand straight up. Repeat.
These are specifically great for improving isometric strength, which you use when maintaining a squatting position in both skiing and snowboarding. Start with your back on the wall with your hips and knees at 90 degree angles. First, hold for 15 seconds, then increase the time as tolerated until your quads fatigue.
Also called a curtsey squat; is a single leg squat where your back leg ends up at approximately a 45 degree angle behind the front squatting leg. Again, be sure that your knee translate in front of your toes too far. Extending your hands in front of you will allow you to sit back into the squat better. When you stand back up, drive the back leg up towards your chest for an extra challenge.
Sports like skiing and snowboarding require quite a bit of hip stability. These exercises will help you to strengthen your hips to avoid placing increased stress on your knees.
Lay on your side with both knees bent. Keep your feet touching while lifting your top knee. Be to keep your pelvis still and not rotate your whole body. Repeat 10-15 times for 3 sets. For an extra challenge, tie a theraband slightly above your knee before beginning.
Start by placing a theraband above your ankles and begin in a squat position with arms extended. Keeping your chest upright and in line with your lower body, take wide steps sideways, bringing your feet together between each step. Continue for 15-20 ft, then continue facing the same direction as you do the same movements back towards your starting point. Repeat 2-3 times.
Core strength begins with torso stability and provides a foundation for both lower and upper extremity motions. For all three of these exercises, start on a yoga mat, and remember to keep your core and gluteal muscles tight throughout.
Lay on your stomach with your forearms on the ground and your elbows located directly below your shoulders. Push up through the forearms until your chest and stomach rise off the ground and your body is in a straight line. Focus your gaze 6-12 inches in front of you to keep your neck in line. Hold until fatigue.
Lay on your side with your whole body straight; keep your lower elbow bent at 90 degrees, directly below the shoulder. Push up through your forearm, keeping the body in a straight line throughout. Focus your gaze directly in front of you to keep your neck in line. Hold until fatigue.
Side Planks with Leg Lift
Assume the same position as side planks. Once you feel stable here, begin to lift the upper leg 1-2 feet up in the air and slowly return it back towards the lower leg. Stay in this side plank position and repeat the leg movement several times. Continue until fatigue then switch sides.