Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Heading to the slopes this snow season? Good physical preparation for your snow trip will not only minimise the risk of injury but will enable you to ski for longer.
Sarah Golding is a Clinic Director at Bayside Sports Medicine Group.
Being fit, strong and ready for your trip to the snow will make your experience so much more enjoyable.
It is important when embarking on your first snow trip, or going back to the snow for the first time in a while, to understand which muscles you will be using and preparing them for the demands of skiing or snowboarding.
Which main muscle groups do skiers and snowboarders use?
While snowboarding and skiing are vastly different sports, they both involve using the legs and core muscles.
Abdominals/core: The frequent changing sides from heel to toe whilst turning, traversing and stop/starting, and even just moving forward require strong control and balance of the core muscles.Quadriceps: You need really strong knees and thighs! Snowboarders need to maintain a slight bend in the knees for balance and it is also crucial for minimising impact on the knees and the rest of the body.Calves: Snowboarders spend the majority of their day in a partially squatted position. The angle of your bindings and boots ensure that the calf muscles are always switched on and can be susceptible to cramping, so getting calves nice and strong will help to prevent any painful burn.
Quadriceps: From the moment you put your boots on in the morning your quads are immediately engaged. Any skier will tell you that this is their sorest body part after a session on the slopes! With your knees constantly bent these muscles are sure to feel burn throughout the day. Strong thighs help to minimise impact on the knee joints and aid in suspension upon landing when skiing.Abdominals/core: particularly the deep core muscles. A strong core is essential for stability and balance when gliding down the mountain. When you are at the level of parallel skiing it is important for protection of your lumbar spine and to aid your balance/control down the slopes.Hamstrings and glutes: the side-to-side action of skiing, as well as the all day semi-squat require good dynamic hip stability. Unlike snowboarding your lower limbs are not connected which means great glute and hamstring strength is required for single leg stability when using one leg at time.
Slopes strength preparation
Once you have your snow trip planned it’s important to have at least 4-6 weeks of strength, balance and endurance training incorporated into your program that targets the necessary muscle groups. This will allow you to be able to tolerate higher amounts of lactic acid, meaning you will not fatigue as quickly on the mountain and will be able to ski for longer. Integrating proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body) exercises into your pre-snow routine - like multi-directional one leg hops on a bosu or trampoline - may reduce the risk of injury as it prepares your body to activate stabilizing muscles around the joints.
Here are some exercises you could incorporate into your routine
Static lungesJump squatsSingle leg squatsBand work: side-stepping, forward, backwardCalf raises
V sit with weight - rotating side to sideFull body plankSide plankLower abdominal leg raises
Bosu Ball squats: great for quads and glute strength as well as challenging your core/balanceSingle leg balance: try standing on a pillow, bosu or closing your eyes for an extra challenge!
Good physical preparation for your snow trip will not only minimise the risks of injury but will enable you to be able to ski for longer. If you have any niggling injuries or pain please check with your Physiotherapist or trainer prior to commencing a new exercise regime.
Fingers crossed we have a bumper season!