Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, getting your body ready for ski season means focusing on three areas: strength, balance and endurance.
The ratio of these components will depend on your skill level and type of activity, says Jason Berg, a personal trainer at Infinity Fitness in Spokane. Mogul skiing requires a focus on strength and muscular endurance, while cross-county skiing along narrow trails on thin skis requires a greater focus on balance.
Some basic exercises to consider are squats, lunges, push/pull movements, bends and twists. Berg highlights squats because thighs are usually where you feel the burn. He will often have clients squat for an extended period of time and then work through basic skiing patterns — adding lunges, bouncing and hand weights to mimic pulling and pushing poles.
Berg starts people off on the floor and progressively reduces the base of support by having them perform movements on an angled step, on one leg, or on a Bosu ball or wobble board. These changes are more relevant to what the slopes are really like, Berg says, and they train knees to correct for a bump or icy patch without injury.
Preventing back injury starts with a good core program that ensures the structures that support the lower spine are strong. This goes beyond just crunches, Berg says, to integrated stabilization of the deeper abdominal muscles. He has clients do chest presses and planks, gradually reducing support again to one foot and with various movements.
Once you are in shape and ready to go, Berg says, make sure to get a good warm-up in, to avoid injury. Dynamic stretches that incorporate movement are important before skiing. Berg recommends squats and lateral lunges to warm up thighs, and shoulder circles to ready arms for pole use.
“You want to prepare the body for movement,” Berg says. “You don’t necessarily want to stretch all the muscles out all the way so that they lose a lot of their elasticity.” The time for those static stretches while the body is at rest is at the end of the day, when the body is in recovery.
Of course, not everyone needs a personal trainer to get in shape for the season.
“If you are somebody who is familiar and comfortable with movement, maybe is an experienced skier, and has a reasonable level of fitness, you could probably get through it on your own just following a few basic things,” Berg says.
On the other hand, beginners, or people struggling with an injury that was fairly severe or has happened more than once, should consult a professional. Berg says he gets a lot of clients, January through March, who have injured themselves on the slopes.
“When they don’t come in to see me before ski season, they usually come to see me after ski season,” Berg says.
Welcome to Snowlander
Every year at this time, it’s a guessing game as to when we might start skiing. We’re always hopeful of a Thanksgiving opening, but we know that many years December is the first month for sliding on snow.
Going into a season guessing keeps me on pins and needles. Every little shift in the weather has me thinking the big storm is rolling in. And last season was one of wonder. Early season, I was wondering if the snow was going to keep falling in such epic proportions. In January I was wondering if it was ever going to stop raining. In May, I was wondering if the snow would ever let up. Overall, a great year.
Now ski season is a reachable grasp away. Ski movie premieres are in full swing, garages are being cleaned out as old gear is dropped off at local swaps. Life is consumed with finding the perfect jacket, dreaming about buying new ski goggles (even though I already have way too many) and scraping off the old wax and getting the tuning bench all set up.
Here at The Inlander, we’ve been busy plotting a new chapter in the local ski scene — Snowlander, your resource for skiing and riding all over the Northwest. In addition to the monthly printed insert in The Inlander, starting with the one you are reading right now, we’ll be keeping you posted on all developments in the local scene every week online.
So check out our new web page, Snowlander.com, for an interactive resort map, stories, blog posts and enter-to-win contests. We’ll also be actively updating our page at Facebook.com/SnowlanderNW. That’s where you can post comments, read the latest news items and check out user snapshots and videos. Check ’em both out now and you can enter to win either a brand-new Rossignol snowboard or a pair of Rossignol skis.
Keep looking for snow, and hopefully by this time next month I’ll be writing this between powder turns!
Jen Forsyth Snowlander Editor firstname.lastname@example.org