Proper preparation is the key to enjoying your time on the slopes! It takes at least six weeks to get in shape for ski season. Not only should you strengthen your legs, but you should also focus on “core stability,” which means strengthening your abdominal and back muscles. A strong core means stronger balance, and stronger balance means easier skiing. Use these exercises to be in top shape your first time back to the hill this season.
Core Exercise for Skiing
Crunches are a good way to build abdominal strength. To perform crunches safely and effectively, it’s important to keep your knees bent and your spine flat. Lying on your back, keep your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms on your chest, and gently lift your torso. But don’t bring your shoulder blades more than 4-6 inches off the floor.
Stretching Exercises for Skiing
Back flexibility is important for skiers and non-skiers alike. Here are a few easy stretching exercises for skiing that can help you improve your back flexibility. For each stretch, hold the position for several seconds and repeat five to eight times, two to three times a day:
KNEE TO CHEST
Lie on back. Pull one knee into chest until comfortable stretch is felt in lower back and buttocks. Repeat with opposite knee.
DOUBLE KNEE TO CHEST
Lie on back. Bring legs up one at a time, then pull both knees into chest until a comfortable stretch is felt in lower back.
Lie on back. Support back of thigh behind the knee. Starting with knee bent, attempt to straighten knee until a comfortable stretch is felt in back of thigh.
LOWER TRUNK ROTATION
Lie on back. Keep back flat, feet together, and rotate knees to one side. Switch sides.
HIP FLEXOR / QUADRICEPS
Lie on side, pull heel of top leg in toward buttocks until a comfortable stretch is felt in front of thigh.
PRONE ON ELBOWS
Lie on stomach with arms under body. Raise up on elbows as high as possible. Keep hips on floor and back relaxed.
Lie on stomach with hands under shoulders, palms down. Straighten arms. Keep hips in contact with floor and lower back and buttocks relaxed.
STANDING BACK EXTENSION
Put hands on hips and keep chin tucked in as you arch backward.
How to Build Endurance for Skiing
You can build endurance by using a Stairmaster, stationary bike or simulated skiing machine. Ballistic movements (doing a quick move from a standing position, like jumping quickly from side to side) are another important part of a ski conditioning program. Aim for a 30 – 45 minute workout three to four days a week. If you experience pain, however, you should discontinue your exercise program and get a medical evaluation.
Read our Ski Season Preparation & Safety Guide for more information. If you are experiencing trouble stretching, consider contacting the Aspen Valley Hospital physical therapy department at 970.544.1177.