Injuries are common on the slopes, not least because skiing uses completely different muscle groups to other more conventional types of Cardiovascular exercises. Some simple preparation leading up to a ski trip as well as doing exercises while on your holiday can help improve your ski performance and help avoid strains and aching joints.
Stand in front of the mirror in shorts with feet parallel in a skiing position and check the following
Draw an imaginary dot on the centre of your knee cap and make a vertical line down to the floor. This line should land in a central position between your second and third toe. In most people the line will drop closer to the big toe or even onto the floor between the feet. This means you won’t be able to carve properly on the slopes, in particular the uphill ski will not hold an edge, and it can cause problems with the knee cap joint.
• Move your knees up and out so that they are central.
• Do 30 reps of the corrected alignment every day, until it becomes your default form.
Examine your body from the side. Make sure your bottom is not sticking out too much or tucked in too far. You need to find the position in which your muscles work best, keeping your upper body relaxed.
• To find the neutral stance, stick your bottom out and up – this is one extreme of the movement ,then tuck your bottom right under,– this is the other extreme.
• Your pelvic neutral is half way between these movements.
• Practice bending your knees into a skiing position maintaining pelvic neutrality – 30 reps every day until it feels natural.
• Bend your knees into a skiing position, keeping your pelvis neutral, and see where your hips move to.
• Stand up again and this time as you bend your knees make sure the weight is coming forwards, as if you are going to tip over.
• You should not have any body weight on the front of your ski boots but by balancing the weight forwards from your core you are ensuring your weight is balanced over the centre of your skis, affording maximum control and ability to turn the skis smoothly.
Quads training is an often neglected element of strength. Doing step downs off a step is a perfect way of working your quads eccentrically. Make sure your alignment is perfect. Start with 30 reps and add weight when it begins to feel easy to do.
Next, work the lateral hip muscles. There is no sport that relies on external hip rotation as much as skiing, so the importance of training these muscles cannot be underestimated.
• Lie on your side with your hips and knees in a skiing position.
• Keep your ankles together and your hips steady as you lift your top knee, like a clam opening and closing. You should feel the muscle working in the outside of your buttock. Repeat 30 times.
• Practice the same movement in a standing position, so you can learn to use those muscles while skiing.
Once you have built up your strength and fitness, move onto propulsive movements.
A good place to begin is jumping sideways on and off a step, starting with a low step and gradually making it higher – this will particularly help on steep narrow slopes where fast movements are essential. Always make sure your alignment is perfect.
If you are fit you may be able to get away with a lower level of cardiovascular exercises. However, for most of us, interval training is the most efficient form of cardiovascular training. Try cycling or a step machine to work some of the muscles used in skiing. Remember to build up slowly
Skiing does not require too much flexibility – except when you fall over. Work on strengthening the calves taking care when stretching out.
It’s worth noting that if you experience any form of discomfort or pain during any of the following exercises, stop the exercise and see a physiotherapist for help.
Note that comprehensive travel insurance covering skiing trips are available.