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Shape Up for Winter Sports

Exercise prep

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Shape Up for Winter Sports

If youv'e ever strapped on a pair of skis or a snowboard without pre-winter training, you are most likely familiar with delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS).

If you’ve ever strapped on a pair of skis, a snowboard, or some snowshoes in your adult life, you are most likely very familiar with delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS).

DOMS is that nasty aching and stiffness that you experience a day or two after either learning one of these new sports, or after the first day of performing the sport after an extended break. In addition to muscle soreness, DOMS is also responsible for making you wonder, “How am I ever going to get back up again?” as you sit down gingerly at the breakfast table the morning after the first day of the season.

Prevent pain with prep

So how do you stop this silly nonsense and get rid of DOMS for good? Well, you can stop doing the activity that causes the pain in the first place, or you can condition yourself so that on your first day out on the slopes you don’t provide DOMS with the opportunity to accompany you back to your place when you return from those snowy hills.

The human body is an amazing machine. Give it a new and unexpected stress (like the first day on the slopes) and it will initially respond negatively. However, if you prepare the body for the stress it is about to encounter on the mountain, it will not let you down. It will allow you to perform your activity efficiently, injury-free—and also allow you to laugh and cough pain-free the next day. 

Add these sport-specific movements to your regular gym routine to tailor your workout to your particular sport. Aim for a strength training program at least twice a week a minimum of four weeks before the season starts to ensure success when the snow starts to fall.   

Downhill skiing

Wall Sit
This exercise is a classic ski-specific movement and is designed to work the lower body muscles—in particular your quadriceps—in a ski-ready position.

  • Stand with your back against a wall and your feet about 3 feet ahead, hip-width apart.
  • Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the floor and hold this position for as long as you can.


Snowboarding

Mountain Climbers with a Tap
To be able to maintain a strong position on your board, you need a strong core to assist you.

  • Assume a push-up position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a long line.
  • Starting with the left leg, keep it straight and swing it out to your left side as far as you can and tap the ground.
  • Swing the left leg back to centre and then bring it under your body and tap the foot on the ground to the right side of your body and then bring it back to start.
  • Keep your hips still and squared while doing each tap.
  • Alternate legs to complete 10 reps for each leg.

Cross-country skiing

Walking Lunges
Lunges are an important part of any skiing exercise program, especially cross-country. Not only do lunges train all the big guns of the lower body (quads, hamstrings, and glutes), but they also challenge your balance just like those skinny skis do.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step one foot forward, with your heel touching the
    floor first. When it touches, your knee should be at a
    90 degree angle and lined up with your toes, without going past them. Keep lowering your torso until your back knee almost touches the floor.
  • Lift your body back up again and swing the back leg forward and perform a lunge with that leg.
  • Keep travelling forward until you have completed 30 reps for each leg.


Snowshoeing

Hamstring Curls
Don’t forget about your poor hamstrings (the muscles behind your thighs). By targeting them specifically, you will help alleviate any muscle imbalances that tend to happen between hamstrings and quads (front of the thigh muscle), and you will experience less leg fatigue when out hiking on those snowy slopes.

  • Lying on your back with your shoes off, feet hip-width apart, and a towel under each heel, lift the hips as high off the floor as you can.
  • Maintain this hip lift while slowly sliding the left foot forward until the leg is almost straight.
  • Pull it back to start and slide the right foot out, then in again.
  • Repeat to complete 15 to 20 reps for each leg.

Please note: this exercise must be performed on a slippery surface, such as hardwood or laminate flooring.

Ice skating

Incorporate this drill in between your regular strength training exercises, and turn your program into a sport-specific workout and a calorie-burning circuit workout.

  • Place two dumbbells about 3 to 4 feet away from each
    other, resting on their ends so that they are standing tall.
  • Stand behind one dumbbell and leap sideways to other dumbbell, landing on the outside leg in a quarter squat while the other one trails behind you (you should look
    like a speed skater in this position).
  • Touch the dumbbell with the opposite hand and then propel yourself back to the other dumbbell.
  • Keep going side to side as fast as you can for
    46 to 60 seconds.

Navigating icy sidewalks

For our older generation, walking on ice and navigating through the snow can be challenging activities. Follow these simple fitness tips to improve your balance and coordination. Be sure to position yourself close to a wall or have someone spot you to stablize you in case you lose your balance.

  • Stand on one leg while performing simple movements such as bicep curls and shoulder presses.
  • Stand on a foam roller, lengthwise, and perform a lunge.
  • Balance on one leg for 30 seconds with your eyes closed.
  • Hike during the spring, summer, and fall months to improve your ability to walk over rocks, roots, and other uneven surfaces.
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