Ski Tune Your Core and Balance
BY KEVIN HENDRY
If you have Yet to visit the slopes to carve fresh tracks, it’s time to get out and make the most of ski season. Skiing requires mobility, stability, muscular endurance and strength, agility and proprioception in an uncontrolled environment.
You have to ski to become a better skier. But it’s imperative you amp up your fitness to prepare your body for the sport’s demands. Have a functional screen carried out by a fitness professional to uncover asymmetries and weaknesses that increase the risk of injury and limit potential. Train optimally by making gains in areas that translate to improved performance and keeping your body durable.
The most common ski injuries affect the ACL (21%) and MCL (12%) of the knees, while skier’s thumb is common after falls on an outstretched hand (7%). As such, you need to improve multi-planar ankle, knee and hip stability (focusing on the different directions your joints are forced to move during activity — referred to as the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes), as well as balance and proprioception to prevent taking a spill.
Whether you race, want to improve your prowess or simply make it down the mountain upright, this training program is for you.
Before you attack this workout or take your first ski run of the day, it’s vital that you’re prepared physically and mentally. Perform a 10-minute, ski-specific dynamic warm-up that will greatly reduce the risk of injury.
Perform self-myofascial release with a foam roller to decrease muscular adhesions and increase mobility.
Use a roller or Body Ball to relax muscles in the calves, hips and mid-back. Then perform exercises that activate stabilizers of the knee (single-leg squat), low back (glute bridge) and rotator cuff (front plank on a stability ball with small circles).
Start slowly and increase the inten-sity and complexity until you break a light sweat.
Goal: Deceleration control to improve carving and absorption with terrain changes.
Good for: Frontal plane hip stability; preventing collapse of knees; functional core stability.
How to: Assume an athletic stance and firmly grip a loaded cable handle. Lunge with the outside leg and cross over the mid-line of your body. Focus on neutral spine, keep your weight through your front heel to load the hip and imagine the head of the femur floating outwards to prevent the knee from collapsing in.
Guidelines: 8-12 reps for three sets on each side.
Don’t: Allow your shoulder to get pulled out (tuck shoulder blade in towards spine); Allow the front knee to collapse; Forget to cross midline of body with the back leg.
Goal: Dynamic equilibrium and leg power.
Good for: Learning to bring your centre of mass to the inside of the turn radius with the sensation of going downhill.
How to: Attach an over-speed band around your waist and stand on a bosu. Hop to one side and land on the outside leg a fraction of a second before the inside leg. Land softly by absorbing the impact with your core and hips then take off with two feet and hop back onto the bosu. Go side-to-side and focus on speed and power with proper form.
Guidelines: 30-45 seconds — see how many times you can go side-to-side.
Don’t: Land on the inside foot first on the lateral hop; Allow the band to pull you forward into poor posture.
Goal: Explosive hip power.
Good for: Initiating skiing movements with your core; training shock-absorption from jumps.
How to: Kneel down, ensure neutral spine and engage your core. Swing your arms for momentum and generate power through your hips to explode into the air. Land softly with a slightly staggered stance, then get back to kneeling. Alternate the leg that lands in front.
Guidelines: 8-12 reps for three sets.
Don’t: Lean forward and use your back; Lose control of the landing.
Goal: Posterior chain strengthening; lateral weight transfer and balance.
Good for: Strengthening the weaker muscles on the back side of your body; biomechanics of slalom.
How to: Place two boxes on either side of a bosu, flat side up. Stand on the bosu holding a kettle bell and reach over to tap one of the boxes. Gain momentum and swing the kettle bell to shoulder height by extending your hips, then decelerate and lower towards the other box. Go side-to-side, ensuring you’re under control.
Guidelines: 8-12 reps, going side-to-side for three sets.
Don’t: Lift with low back instead of hips and hamstrings; Use a kettle bell that’s too heavy; Allow the bosu to tilt excessively.
Split-Squat Cable Lift
Goal: Functional strengthening of oblique slings; unilateral leg strengthening.
Good for: Addressing strength differences between legs and developing timing and co-ordination.
How to: Assume a split-squat stance with feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure feet and knees are pointing straight forward. Firmly grip a loaded cable handle and lift from hip toward the opposite shoulder.
Guidelines: 8-12 reps for three sets on each side.
Don’t: Lean forward; Throw off your body alignment.
Goal: Improve visual acuity, concentration, balance and tracking abilities.
Good for: Ankle, knee and hip stability in a stance similar to that of skiing; preventing falls.
How to: Stand on a wobble board (or other unstable surface) and assume a low athletic stance. Bounce two balls of different size and weight side-to-side while maintaining balance. When this becomes too easy, keep your head up.
Guidelines: 30-45 seconds — try not to let the wobble board tap the ground.
Don’t: Bounce the balls too quickly; Allow body weight to fall forward toward the toes.
Kevin Hendry, BHK, CEP, FMS(2) is a professional training coach and exercise physiologist at Innovative Fitness in White Rock, B.C. He trains elite team sport athletes as well as runners, cyclists and Ironman triathletes.