Most people who ski are only able to go for one week, once a year or every few years. With so little time on the slopes we really want to arrive feeling strong enough and fit enough that we don’t have to hobble to the lifts on stiff legs from day 2, or stop gasping for a breather at the bottom of every run.
How can we build fitness before our holiday as well as reduce our risk on injury on the slopes?
To ski longer, harder and safer we need good endurance (cardiovascular fitness), strength (particularly core and legs) and flexibility.
1. Endurance - cardiovascular fitness – try to run or walk at least 2-3 times a week for 20-60 minutes from 6 weeks pre trip. Walking, running, cycling, rowing and the cross trainer are the most effective forms of exercise for skiing. If you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine you will be surprised how many steps you can rack up. Walk an extra bus stop, take the stairs rather than the lift, give the dog an extra short walk a day.
Leg strength – quads, glutes and calves all work very hard when skiing; to strengthen these areas, start exercises 6 weeks before skiing. Build from 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise to 3 sets of 15 reps. Or start with 30 seconds of each exercise building to a minute.
- Squats : stand with shoulders hip width apart, push your hips back as if you are going to sit in a chair and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand back up and repeat. Make sure you keep your weight back over your heels and keep the movement slow (count 2 down and 2 up).
Progression: hold weights in your hands
- Calf raises : stand on a step, the toes and ball of foot of one foot on the step, the other leg bent behind you. Raise up on to your toes then slowly lower back down. Complete the reps or time then repeat on the other leg.
Progression: put a weighted backpack on your back.
- One legged multi-directional squats : stand with feet hip distance apart; lift the right leg and lunge forwards, push back to standing on the left leg, lunge to the side, push back to standing, lunge backwards, back to standing then courtesy and back to standing. Repeat this 3-4 times through on each leg, using your balance to keep your foot raised as you come back to the start position after each lunge. This exercise will help balance as well as increase leg strength.
- Squat jumps : standing with feet hip distance apart, squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor then explode up into a high jump. Try to land as lightly as you can. Progress from 3 sets of 6 jumps to 3 sets of 10 (or 30 seconds to 60 seconds).
If this plyometric move is too much, or for some variety, try a wall sit. Feet hip distance apart, back to a wall, slide down the wall until your ankles knees and hips are all at right ankles. Hold this position for 30 seconds, making sure your weight goes through your heels and not your toes); progress to 3 x 1 minute. To include the glutes in this move, put an exercise band around both legs, just above the knee, and push out against the band as you are squatting.
- Resisted glute bridge : lie on your back, knees bent, heels close to your bottom. Put a resistance band around both legs just above the knees. Raise your hips as high as you can, pushing your knees against the band as you do so. Hold in the top position for 5 seconds before lowering to the floor. Repeat for 3 sets of 6-10 raises.
Progression: single leg raises, repeat as above but keeping one foot on the floor and one leg raised.
Variation: in standing, put a resistance band around both ankles. Stand with feet wide enough apart to feel resistance from the band. Maintaining this resistance throughout, take 10 small steps to the right, then 10 to the left. Repeat 3 times, keeping hip tucked under you so that the glutes are working.
Click here to purchase exercise resistance bands : https://enertor.com/collections/all/products/exercise-bands
Core strength – core strength is very important when you are skiing because this is what will help you maintain balance. Try the below, building from 3 x 30 seconds to 3 x 60 seconds for each of the exercises.
- Mountain climbers : get into a push up position. Engage your core and make sure you keep your back flat (if it starts to sag, stop, take a short break then continue): on your hands and toes, bring your right knee to your right elbow, back to the starting position then left knee to left elbow. Keep alternating legs until the time is up – the movements should be slow and steady.
- Russian twists : sit on the ground, knees bent and feet on the floor. Tap the floor to the left and behind you, then twist to touch the floor to the right and behind you.
Progression: hold a weight between both hands; raise feet off the floor slightly.
Increasing flexibility will decrease injury risk, aid recovery and improve the all important skiing style. With feet in rigid boots all day, it is important to stretch from the feet up. With après ski calling, stretching is not something many people make time for! But just a couple of minutes after time on the slopes can make a huge difference. Try holding each of the below stretches for as long as it takes for the stretch feel to wear off.
- Plantar Fascia stretch : place toes against a wall, keeping heel on the floor. Gently lean forwards until you feel a stretch in the sole of the foot and bottom of the calf. The Plantar Fascia can get very tight when skiing, if this is the case for you, try also rolling a ball along the length or your foot sole (barefoot or in socks).
- Calf stretch : facing a wall, place both hands on the wall at shoulder height; place right toe against the wall, left foot about a foot back. Squat gently so that both knees are slightly bent and feel a stretch at the bottom of the left calf; increase the stretch by bending the knee further. When this has worn off, straighten the left knee and push in to the wall. The stretch will move to the top of the calf. Repeat for both legs.
- Quad stretch : lie on your right side with legs stacked. Bend the left leg and grab the ankle with your left hand. Keeping your hips at right angles to the floor, gently pull the foot towards your bottom to feel a stretch in the left quad. Repeat on the right leg.
- Hamstring stretch : from standing, place left foot on a bench or high step. Keeping back straight, slowly extend the bent knee until a gentle stretch is felt in the back of the thigh; hold then repeat on the other side. Gently lower chest to increase the stretch.
- Piriformis / glute : lie on back, both knees bent, feet on the floor. Lift the left leg and cross the left ankle over the right thigh. Hold right thigh in both hands and pull towards you, to feel a stretch in the left glute. Repeat on the right.
How can we make ski days more comfortable?
Skiing involves long hours of standing, something our feet are not necessarily used to, particularly if we sit at a desk for most of the day. This can cause pain and cramping in the feet.
We recommend Enertor’s walking insoles to provide day long comfort and support and to improve recovery https://enertor.com/collections/all/products/px1-walking-insoles
These insoles have a shock absorbing arch support to improve your posture and reduce pain not only in feet but also in ankles, hips, lower back and legs.
Additionally, the unique material used by Enertor in the insoles acts as a great insulator, so no more cold toes!
Wearing multiple layers when skiing is preferable to wearing one thick garment.
Layers allow moisture to wick away from the skin, provide greater warmth by trapping air between the layers and also allow you to remove or add garments as the day gets warmer and then cooler again.
As Easter approaches and days get warmer, we recommend wearing arm sleeves with a short sleeve technical t-shirt under your ski jacket.
Arm sleeves can easily be pushed down to the wrists if you are too warm, but then quickly be pulled up as the day gets cooler or wind picks up.
For Enertor arm sleeves go to : https://enertor.com/collections/all/products/arm-sleeves
It is really important to keep well hydrated when you are skiing. Cold temperatures can disguise the fact you are thirsty and getting dehydrated. Skiing is very physical, and you will be sweating and losing moisture.
Enertor soft water bottles provide an easy way to carry water with you. Being soft and light they can be easily carried in a pocket or waist pack; with a bite and suck top to extract water they will not leak. As you drink, the bottle gets smaller and the vacuum caused by sucking the water out prevents water sloshing around.
Also – when filled with snow – they can provide very handy ice packs for any bumps and bruises!!
For Enertor water bottles go to : https://enertor.com/collections/all/products/soft-water-bottle
Enjoy your ski trip, being the best prepared version of you!