Get your winter body ready
Ski season is coming up, and that means engaging with an activity unlike anything we do for the rest of the year.
Even the most limber and active of us rarely put our bodies through the types of intensive movements that we do on the slopes.
Every year, Simon Moyes treats dozens of conditions that are sustained as a result of skiing and snowboarding injuries. Click here to find out about some of the typical ski injuries that the Capital Orthopaedics team treats.
So, it’s really important to prepare your body for the winter sports season. It’s never too late, but the sooner you start to work on your strength and mobility, the better the results will be. And it’s not just about preventing injuries – your style on the slope will improve if you have greater strength where it matters. You can do a few exercises every day, but as your holiday approaches, it’s a good idea to ramp this up to about 25 minutes a day.
We know that accidents DO happen, no matter how prepared you are. If you’ve come back from a winter holiday with a severe or chronic injury, make sure that you get in touch with the team at Capital Orthopaedics. Our sports medicine experts use the very latest in diagnostic technology to get you started on your treatment plan as quickly as possible. Whether it’s a course of targeted physiotherapy or arthroscopic surgery, our team is highly experienced at dealing with skiing and snowboarding injuries.
Swivelling, twisting, powering through your legs – all of these are dependent on strength and mobility in the muscles and tendons around your hip joint. There are plenty of exercises to choose from online, but look for exercises that encourage the hips to rotate forwards and improve your balance. Here are some of our favourites:
Single leg raise: take a dumbbell in each hand and keep your arms straight down towards the ground, shoulders straight. Tip your torso forward (with a straight back) while raising one leg straight behind you, keeping your arms straight down. Your standing leg should be slightly bent. Work towards 15 reps per side.
Dumbbell step-ups: hold a dumbbell in your right hand and step up onto a high step with your left leg. Stand straight and step back down. Repeat with the other leg and opposite arm. Increase the height of the step and the weight of the dumbbell to make this more challenging. Work towards 15 reps per side.
Half squat challenge: holding one dumbbell with both hands close to your chest, bend your legs into a half squat (toes facing forwards), then lift left leg bent at a right angle behind you, toe facing the ground. Keeping your torso upright and leg bent behind, bring the dumbbell out in front of your left shoulder as you straighten your arms, bring it back to the chest and straight out to your right shoulder. Repeat 15 times per leg.
Stretch: a good hip stretch is the pigeon pose. Sit on the ground cross legged. Keep one leg in front, stretch the other leg out behind you and lean forward. Hold for 1-2 minutes per side.
CONDITIONING CORE AND LEGS
Build fitness and endurance with a HIIT workout. This one works the muscles you typically use in skiing and snowboarding. It involves doing each of the three exercises for one minute, resting for one minute and then repeating the four exercises. Work towards 20 minutes in total. The faster you go, the more of a workout you will get!
Step back lunges: squat with one leg while stepping the other back in a reverse lunge. Keep your core muscles tight. Alternate legs for 1 minute.
V-Ups: This is a version of a crunch with straight arms and legs. Lie on your back, and bend at the waist, while raising your feet and hands in the air hands as high as they will go. Avoid arching your back and keep your core engaged. Breathe out as you lift up and in as you release. Continue for 1 minute.
Burpees: Stand tall, then put your hands on the ground and jump both feet back into a plank position, then jump your feet between your hands and spring to standing. If this is too intensive, you can start with stepping back into the plank, and stepping forward from the plank position to stand. To work harder, try bringing your chest to the ground from the plank. 1 minute
Active stretch: go into a low lunge – front leg bent, back leg straight. Put one hand on the ground (opposite your bent leg) and raise the other arm straight up to the ceiling, twisting your upper body. Repeat 20 times on each side.
There are plenty of exercises that you can do in the gym or at home to build up strength in your legs. Remember to focus on hamstrings (backs of your thighs) and calves as well as quads. Your leg strength is absolutely key to providing stability in your knees, and reducing the likelihood of typical snowsport injuries like sprained ankles, ACL tears and meniscal damage.
Here are three exercises that you can do at home:
Dumbbell deep squats: use two dumbbells for this (it needs to feel challenging, so the heavier, the better). Bring the dumbbells up so they are just touching the top of each shoulder. Go into a squat with your legs at a right angles and feet facing forward. Drop your backside into a deeper squat, and stand up. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Repeat 8 times (that’s one set). Rest and repeat. 4 sets in total.
Dumbbell split squats: holding two fairly heavy dumbbells, stand a foot or so in front of a block or dining chair, facing away from the chair. Bend one knee behind you to about 90 degrees, and rest your foot on the chair. Squat with the standing leg and bring the knee of the other leg towards the floor. If you feel pain in your knee, try widening your stance, reducing the weight or reducing the depth of the squat. Repeat 8 times (one set) on each leg and repeat each set 4 times.
Plank with moving object: go into a plank position and place a light dumbbell or any object that you can move easily to the outside of your right hand. Pick the dumbbell up with your right hand and move it to the other side under your left arm. Transfer your weight to the other hand and repeat on the other side. Keep your back straight, core engaged and quads and glutes tight. Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Do this exercise for four minutes.
Dynamic stretch: sun salutation yoga flow. There are many videos of this yoga movement online. Try to do each move with one outward and one inward breath. Stand straight with your arms above you, hinge in the middle and drop your hands down towards your toes. Hinge upwards slightly from your hips, straighten your back and hinge back down with an even straighter back. Hands on the ground and jump or step back into a plank. Elbows tucked in next to your torso, hands under your shoulders, lower your body down to the ground. With the tops of your feet on the ground, straighten your arms to lift your shoulders and upper body upwards, keeping your hips on or near the ground (cobra). Return to plank. Push up into downward dog – try to press your heels down, legs straight and backside pointing to the ceiling to feel the stretch in your calves. Step or jump your feet back towards your hands and stand up slowly with knees slightly bent and slightly rounded back. Repeat 10 times.