February 27, 2018
You haven’t done any work on your ski fitness…Does it matter?
YES, I’m afraid it does. Skiing whether you’re beginner or advanced is an intensely physical and demanding activity, especially as you’ll be doing it for several hours a day, six days in a row and at high altitudes. Unfortunately, very little of our busy lives – whether sitting in traffic/at your desk, playing on your phone/tablet, watching TV or eating out will have significantly prepared your body for skiing’s many challenges.
The last thing you want to do is spend huge amounts of money, only to find you are too exhausted to get out of bed by the third morning.
Don’t despair, even 2-3 weeks of exercise can make a difference and benefit your skiing. However, in an ideal world we would recommend an 8-12-week exercise programme before you go skiing especially if you currently do minimal exercise. Preparing for your skiing holiday by improving your fitness, strength, balance and flexibility will increase the likelihood of a more enjoyable and safe experience on the slopes.
Non-Gym bunnies, don’t panic. There are many ways to increase your fitness and strength within in your normal daily routine immediately.
- Use the stairs not the lift/escalator
- Cycle/walk/jog to work instead of driving
- Walk/complete some exercises during your lunch/breaks
- Heel raises/single leg balance/squats when cleaning your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil/microwave
- Swap your seated position for a wall squat (back flat against the wall, knees at 90 degrees) hold for 10-30 seconds regularly.
Build Cardiovascular/aerobic fitness
Building your aerobic capacity will help you ski for longer and speed up your recovery time. This will involve you working hard, increasing your heart rate and becoming out of breath, this should be completed for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times weekly.
There are many different forms of cardiovascular exercise, some of which include running/jogging, brisk walking, skipping, cycling, swimming, cross-trainer, step machine and rowing. If you prefer classes spinning, circuits or HITT classes can be very effective. HITT/Tabata training involve high intensity periods of work 20-30 seconds combined with a rest period 10-20 seconds, this variability in intensity of training can help prepare you and your body for the on-off nature of skiing. You can try this yourself with burpees, high knee running and squats.
Boost your strength, stability and co-ordination
Not only is aerobic fitness important, but good muscular strength and stability is vital for skiing. You will spend a lot of time in a squat, pushing from one leg to another and dare I say it, possibly picking yourself up from the snow.
Strengthening of key areas such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and calves are key. Alongside strengthening of your back, core and upper body.
Exercises such as lunges, squats, wall squats, bridging, heel raises, press-ups are great ways to work your muscles at home or in the gym, or if you prefer classes circuits or body pump are also great options.
Skiing is an inherently unstable sport, you will need to be able to very quickly transfer your weight from one leg to another on uneven terrain and adjust your body position to cope with the demands of the piste, therefore balance and stability is hugely important
Exercises such as single leg bridging, BOSU/wobble board squats/single leg balance, side to side jumps/hops, plank/side plank are just a few exercises that you can try to challenge your whole body to develop better control.
To aid your muscles and joints during skiing you should begin by working on areas that are tight or have restricted range of movement, becoming suppler will help to maintain an effective and safe skiing technique.
Stretches can be static (held) or dynamic (moving), aiming to hold your static stretches of muscles for 30-60 seconds will have a more beneficial effect.
You want to improve flexibility for the whole body as skiing is a full body work out. Key areas to work on are ankles, knees, hips, lower back, upper back and shoulder mobility. Stretches of main muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and gluteals alongside joint mobilisation, massage and foam rolling can all assist in improving your flexibility.
Depending on when you are skiing, you want to gradually build your exercise programme in intensity, frequency and duration as you get closer to the event, making sure to add in rest days as appropriate to allow the muscles to recover and get stronger.
If you are interested in getting ski-fit and want a tailored training programme, have a personalised biomechanical assessment or have any niggles/injuries that you want to have assessed prior to your skiing holiday please don’t hesitate to give us a call at Physiotherapy Matters for some advice or to book in an appointment with one of our fantastic chartered physiotherapists.