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Well, we got an early dumping of snow this season which put me in a great mood right away save of course for my getting stuck in the storm for six and a half hours as I tried to make my way home! Ugh… But I can never get too mad at the white stuff. It means that ski season is finally here and we can all finally start cutting turns. While trapped in that barely moving traffic, I got to thinking about how important stretching and warming up is before you hit the slopes. I know for myself, the first few runs of the season bring with them an anxiousness that can easily make me forget to loosen up my muscles before I start out. After a long offseason, it’s sometimes easy to forget to do it especially when you are amped up to cut some initial 2018/2019 turns. But that’s the most important time to start getting yourself into the habit of warming up each and every time you head out into the white.
But don’t just take my word for it, listen to two-time Olympian skier and personal trainer Jillian Vogtli. Jillian is an expert on preparing your body for skiing success. In her words, “The importance of warming up before skiing cannot be emphasized enough. The best way to warm-up before skiing is a 10-minute jog (sans ski boots) followed by a few minutes of active stretches.”
She adds, “Although it only takes a few minutes, the physiological benefits of a gradual warm-up are huge. It raises your body’s core temperature before intense exercise, will activate your metabolism, improve joint mobility and boost muscle reaction time too. Research shows that warming up to ski, rather than skiing to warm-up can give an increase in elastic properties of the muscle by as much as 15-20 percent, improving performance and preventing muscle strains.” So the next time you pull up to a packed
resort parking lot, be glad, not bummed out about the hike. A good, long walk to the base, while carrying your equipment
is a perfect pre-ski warm-up.”
With the season about to get into full swing, long lift lines will be a given, but you can even help your muscles while you wait in line. Generate heat with some narrow stance squats and front lunges. Big arm swings are a great way loosen stiff shoulders and keep your fingers from going numb. Once on the lift you can continue that beneficial muscle work by swinging your legs, slightly pausing near the top of the swing to strengthen the quadriceps. Make sure not to hit your skis together though cause nothing is
worse than having a ski fall from the chair possibly injuring someone on the slope and leaving you to ski down on one plank. The chairlift is a great time to focus on posture too. “In today’s world, so much of our days are spent bent over, (driving, texting, typing, picking up children, etc…)” continues Vogtli, “Focus on engaging the core, sitting upright with your belly-button pulled inward. It’s amazing how much heat you can generate simply by activating your back and abdominals while seated.”
Here are a six things I personally try to do before taking my first run.
#1: Swing Those Legs
Stand tall, (using your ski poles for support if needed.) Moving through your hip joint, swing a straight leg forward to
a full extension. Then swing it backward. Pendulum the leg back and forth until it loosens up. Repeat with the other leg
and alternate until you feel both legs are nice and flexible.
#2: Hurdle Those Steps
With your shoulders facing forward, raise one leg up to 90°. Rotate the leg to the outside and place the foot down. Reverse
the motion using the same leg. Move it up to 90°, rotate it back to the front and place the foot down. Repeat this motion
using the same leg or alternate legs for a few more reps.
#3: Crunch That Core
Stand tall. In one motion, bring your left elbow down and your right knee up, crunching your core. Alternate with the other elbow and knee. Aim for 10-15 core crunches until you feel a bit of burn.
#4: Touch Those Toes
Raise your arms above your head. Bend at the waist and touch your toes. Rise up halfway and bend to the left to touch the left toes with both hands. Rise up halfway again and bend to the right to touch the right toes with both hands. Stand up halfway and then rise up to repeat the sequence again.
#5: Loosen That Back
Keep your shoulders and head pointed forward as you rotate your back to the left and then the right. Keep going until you
feel nice and loose.
#6: Circle Those Arms
With your arms outstretched, make little circles going forward. Then make little circles going backward. Repeat on both sides and try to enlarge the circles as you go until they become big arm circles.