Fit for Skiing
REMEMBER THE OLD WAY OF CONDITIONING OURSELVES FOR A SKIING TRIP?
Spend three to five minutes hovering against a wall, legs bent at 90* until the pain in the thighs became unbearable. Then stagger off the wall, hands on hips, shaking the legs, until eventually the pain went. Ready to go skiing.
The majority of skiing injuries, in fact all sports injuries are due to a lack of conditioning and strengthening of not only muscles, but also ligaments and bones. You are more likely to get injured at the beginning of the week, or the beginning of the season, because the body needs to get used to the different stresses, strains, angles and the immense pressures placed upon it. To avoid injury, we need to toughen up the body and learn to be in control in increasingly demanding situations. We do this through accessing the muscles.
We do adapt very quickly; once on the slope, our balance, fitness, strength and endurance will all increase at a phenomenal rate. People can learn the simple elements of skiing in hours. This alone is testament to the fact that our bodies can adapt, learn and strengthen, remarkably rapidly.
TRAIN ON MULTIPLE PLAINS
What I am going to ask you to do when you train for skiing, is to think carefully about all the angles your joints will be put through. Think about the movements your knees will make, and those your ankles, hips, back and shoulders will make. This may seem obvious. However, most people train in one plain of movement; up and down, yet the most common injury is a rotation injury, whether it is the back, shoulder, hip, or, most typically, the knee. This doesn’t mean you should neglect the up and down movements, just incorporate rotation and side flexion at the same time.
It’s also important to think about the type of energy system that we use when we
are skiing. There is a lot of power (you may need to make a sudden turn to avoid another skier), and bouncing from side
to side requires a lot of power and timing. And then there is the lactic strength that is required as you go through the longer distance runs. This must be reflected in your training program. Try to get that burning, lactic feeling in the legs. Make sure your movements are powerful but also controlled.
This will lead to stronger muscles, ligaments, bones and cartilage. You will have more control over your muscles and therefore your limbs and your skis. By working in a number of plains of movement you will increase core strength. Almost all balance, power and control come with a strong core from which our limbs can work.
Balance is perhaps the most important element to a successful skiing trip (except a good snow fall), and there are some very simple techniques to improve your balance and increase the speed at which you progress. The most important tip is that the part of you closest to the ground has the most control on the skis/ board and therefore your balance. This may again seem very obvious, however, at the top of ski lifts throughout the Alps there will be arms and ski poles flying in every direction, which, contrary to helping the skier balance, does quite the opposite and causes a delayed reaction and the skier’s upper body will be over the wrong side by the time the lower body has corrected the balance, leaving the skier in a heap and the ski lift closed for another two minutes. If you watch a good skier, there will be very little upper body movement, whereas a novice will try to regain control using hands and arms.
The key to balance is in your toes, feet, ankles, knees and hips, in that order, and of course a strong core. You can learn to balance at any age. If you want to practice and can’t find a dry ski slope, jump on a bus, tube train or some thing else that is moving under you. As you lose balance
you will have an urge to grab the nearest handle, but try to use your feet to correct yourself. If you are finding this easy, try it on one foot, and then try it with your eyes closed. Don’t hurt yourself. The old trick about keeping the head still, eyes fixed
on a stationary object (a relatively short distance in front of you on the slopes) works, as it gives you an idea of where stability is and therefore an idea of what your muscles need to do to get back
Cardio vascular fitness is also an important element of preparation for a ski trip. The thin mountain air, lack of oxygen, and increased levels of exercise mean that if you are going to get the most from your skiing trip, you need to work on increasing lung size and functional capacity.
PROGRAMME DESIGN FOR MOUNTAIN FITNESS
One Element Fitness training is one of the very best ways you can get fit and strong for skiing. We do loads of speed and agility work, leg strength, power and cardio work. So if you can, you’d be very sensible to try to make a couple of sessions per week for the three months before you go skiing.
I recommend that each week you do a couple of One Element sessions a couple of extra training session for an hour (i.e. a run, a game of tennis, any other sport, even some hill walking).
We have designed the following program specifically for skiing to complement the One Element training sessions.
1. Warm up
2. Run 1- 5 km, this is preferable as it uses the whole body, (muscles working together to make and release energy).There is an element of impact, so you are strengthening the bones, ligaments and cartilage (connective tissue). Running outside or on uneven ground is an advantage, as the small changes in direction will help strengthen connective tissue and improve balance.
3. Then do 16 squat jumps from side to side.
Feel free to design your own program. As long as you keep the strength balance and control concepts in mind and try to replicate the movements you will be performing on the mountain, you will have success. It is important that you maintain a strong back, pull the core muscles in and increase flexibility as, having a full range of movement is vital for control.
Over the six weeks leading up to your trip introduce the following morning circuit session, which should take you about ten minutes. i have played about with a little program you might like to use. Also do have a look at reset for a very quick way to get fit and strong.