How Do You Prepare for the Ski Season?

What may work for one individual may not for the next.

Itís that time of year again where the weather is getting colder and the snow is soon on its way. For a lot of us winter enthusiasts this is a welcome change of season since this means the snow is coming and the skis are coming out. Most ski bums are eager to get on the slopes as soon as possible to get their first turns of the year in, but easily forget that they have not been using various muscle groups or motor patterns for the last 7 Ė 8 months which could potentially lead to an injury and a short season. You may be asking yourself: How do I prepare for this season, and stay injury and pain free?

First of all, anyone who is preparing for a sporting activity or event should be properly assessed and screened by a physiotherapist and/or movement professional prior to any new activity. This will give your practitioner insight into past injuries, current limitations and mechanical dysfunctions you may have and sets the foundation of any good strength and conditioning program. Re-assessments should be conducted periodically to make sure the program is working and imbalances donít occur from the sport itself.

Once the assessment and screening has been completed and information has been collected, corrective exercises to achieve baseline mobility and stability will be the cornerstone for any good program, they may not look very sport specific but they can correct any movement or muscle imbalances. A lot of problems we see in the general population is poor hip flexibility and strength. This is a common problem, as most of our jobs require us to sit for the majority of our days, our hip flexors become short and tight and glutes become long and weak. This can be a huge problem for a skier, when pressuring into turns requires good hip extension and strong glutes to control forces and the position of the knees.

  • Hip mobility/stretches followed with bridging, balancing and various squat and deadlift exercises are common exercises prescribed to fix the dysfunction at the pelvic complex.
  • Core exercises are a staple we use to teach stability at the trunk, correct posture and prevent back injuries from occurring.

The best way to predict if someone is going to have a back injury is to see if they had one in the past. When combining the forces placed on the spine while skiing without sufficient strength and endurance in the trunk musculature is a recipe for injury. A lot of people are doing ďcore exercisesĒ but it has been our experience that 99.9% of everyone coming in is not doing them correctly, it can look like youíre doing it correctly but it doesnít mean that you are. They look good, but when taking a closer look the wrong muscles are being recruited. We tell everyone the devil is in the details with all the exercises and itís those details that make the exercise effective or not.

As mentioned above the hips and core should be a main focus when training for the ski season and a reasonable amount of strength and mobility should be acquired before clicking into the skis.Good balance needs to be established since when turning the downhill ski is or should be taking most of your weight in the turn. If you canít balance on one leg for one minute on either leg there is some balance and strength issues there which need to be sorted out. Squatting and balancing on foam discs, bosu balls are good pieces of equipment for balance and body awareness but if standing on a flat stable surface is difficult you are not ready for the other equipment yet.

This article may or may not have been helpful with regards to any specific training for skiing but Iím hoping that it gives some insight on how to have a healthy and injury free ski season and how to stay strong in the process. If I were to just name off some random exercises and tell everyone this is what they need to do to ski better would be very irresponsible of me and may potentially cause more harm than good. Everyone is built a little different, have old injuries and have different habitual postures. What may work for one individual may not for the next and a good program cannot be built online or read in magazine. If you are truly passionate about skiing or any sport for that matter, get assessed / screened by a qualified health professional and get set on the right path for you.

Tom Swales