By: Dr. Patrick Schroeder, PT, DPT, OCS
As somebody who loves to ski, I find myself starting to think a lot about the ski season this time of the year as the weather starts to change. A lot of those thoughts consist of looking into buying season passes, deciding what mountains to go to, planning trips with friends and daydreaming about being out on the slopes! One of the biggest things that you should be considering is making sure that your body is prepared for the season ahead!
It is important to be sure that your body is able to be able to move in the ways that you will have to do on the mountain. This goes especially for someone who may not have been very active over the summer, or is recovering from or dealing with a nagging injury. This blog post will go through the various ways that skiing challenges your body, and will give some solutions on how to optimize success to ensure a fun season on the mountain.
Ask anybody who has ever skied before, and they will agree that ski boots are not always the most comfortable thing to wear. One of the reasons for this is that the boots position your foot in a large degree of dorsiflexion with not much room for movement. This is by design, as it allows your leg to be in an optimal position, as well as preventing excess motion at the ankle that can lead to injuries. There are two big ways to help reduce any discomfort associated with this. The first is to ensure that you have adequate dorsiflexion mobility (Being able to bring your knees over your toes with your heels on the floor). Here are some exercises to help with this area:
Ankle Dorsiflexion mobilization: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDeDqgZ9cLg
Gastrocnemius Stretch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_ZrG8PHKrk
The other important aspect to consider is to ensure that you have properly fitting ski boots. Ski equipment can be very expensive, but the boots are the most important piece of equipment, even more so than the skis. If you have to choose one piece of equipment to prioritize, I would recommend a pair of high quality well fitting boots.
By far the most important area to train for skiing is your quads. While downhill skiing your knees are in a constant state of flexion meaning your quads are working hard to keep them in the position they need them to be in, and helping to prevent your knees from moving into positions that put you at an increased risk of injury. The importance of this is magnified when going down trails with steeper terrain, moguls, or when there is more fresh powder on the mountain. The best way to prepare your quads to handle these challenging demands is by strength training 2-3 times/week. This will help improve your ski performance, as well as potentially reduce your chance of injury. Some good exercise options include the following:
Goblet Squats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-Vf2yRRqOg
Multiplanar Lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-kVgKs9jqY
Step ups/downs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZknEYboBOQ
Single leg Strength
A big component of downhill skiing is the frequent transfer of weight from one leg to the other while making turns. As a result it is important to train yourself to prepare for moving your body weight with one leg. Some beneficial exercises for this include the following:
Single leg deadlifts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtHxnWmMgzM
Lateral ski hops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up-62Sn25bs
These exercises offer a good starting point to get ready for the season. As with any exercises, it is important to increase or decrease the intensity based on your experience and skill level. If you have any questions about any of this, please reach out to a physical therapist at the Green Room!
Schedule an evaluation or send your questions here: Registration and Inquiries