Are You Ski Fit Yet?

POSTED 12 December 2016 BY Verity IN Ski, Richmond Staff

Richmond SKier - cliff drop jump

With the beginning of the ski season – and hundreds of ski holidays taking place over the next few months we thought we would come up with a list of the best exercises to strengthen those muscles before hitting the slopes!

We have identified the five key muscle groups to focus on strengthening and Andy and Adam from the Richmond Office have put these exercises to the test!

1) The core muscles – These help you to maintain your balance – always important when it comes to skiing! Often skiers with weak core muscles are the ones you see tearing down the slopes with flailing arms or falling over unable to balance on the snow.

Exercise A: Front Plank

1.       Balance on your forearms in a push-up position, so you are facing the floor

2.       Use the strength of your abdominals and glutes to keep your hips raised to shoulder height (take extra care not to sag in the midsection.)

3.       Hold for 30 – 60 seconds

Front Plank

Exercise B: Side Plank

1.       Shift 90’ from the front plank position onto one hand, so you are no longer facing the ground.

2.       Extended the other arm straight into the air or on your hip and have your feet stacked.

3.       Hold for 30-60 seconds

Complete three sets (One set = one front plank, one side plank on right side and one side plank on left side)

 Side Plank

2) The Gluteal Muscles – One of the essential muscle groups used when skiing, they are responsible for the movement of the hip and thigh. This muscle moves the leg away from the centre of your body (eg snowploughs) and assists in leg rotation, which is important to steer your skis!

Exercise A: The ‘Clam’

1.       Lie on your side with your hips and knees tucked up in a skiing position.

2.       Keep your ankles together and your hips steady as you lift your top knee, like a clam opening and closing. You should feel the muscle working in the outside of your buttock.

3.       Repeat 30 times, lying on each side.

The closed clam  The open clam

Exercise B: The Forward Lunge

1.       To start, stand with your feet together, shoulders back, and core tight.

2.       Lift your right leg off the ground and take a big step forward.

3.       Lower your body toward the ground until your right upper thigh is parallel to the floor and your right knee forms about a 90-degree angle.

4.       Straighten up by pushing through your right heel to return to standing position.

5.       Repeat 5 times on each leg.

 The Lunge

3) Knee flexors and extensors (hamstrings and quadriceps)– When skiing you will find yourself bending and straightening as you absorb the impact of the slope. Your hamstring and quadricep muscles protect the anterior cruciate ligament, a particularly sensitive knee ligament that can snap if put under too much pressure.

Exercise: Wall-Sit Strengthening

1.       Stand with your back against a wall.

2.       Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, and maintain your back flat against the wall.

3.       Keep your lower legs perpendicular to the floor and be sure your knees do not go out past your toes.

4.       Hold the pose for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, then repeat. You should feel a stretch in your quad muscles, but no pain in your knees.

Complete three sets. You can increase the difficultly by holding the position for longer – see how long you can hold it for, can you reach 5 mins?!

 Wall sit

4) Lower Leg – the sole of your foot is turned outwards using the muscles found in the lower section of the leg – this rotation happens every time you ski on the ski’s edges, so it’s important to have these muscles in good shape as it will improve both your skiing technique and stamina.

Exercise: Static heel raises

1.       Start by standing bare feet on a stair, step or something similar, so your heels drop lower than your toes.

2.       Keeping the balls of your feet on the step, lower your heels as far as you can toward the floor.

3.       Repeat 30 times.

4.       To add intensity to the stretch add weight eg hold some dumbbells – if you have them or a can of beans in each hand if not!

Static heel raise down   static heel raise up

5) Foot and ankle – This muscle group is responsible for the edging, pressure & rotational movements when skiing, these muscles also keep your shins pressed into the tongue of your ski boot.

Exercise - Feet and ankles stretches:

1.       Sitting on a chair, stick your left leg out in front of you - so it is not touching the ground.

2.       Bend your toes back up towards you and hold for 5 seconds

3.       Then push your toes down, hold for 5 seconds

Repeat 5 times for each foot

foot stretch up  foot stretch down

Also, if you have a tennis or golf ball place it on the ground, rest your foot above the ball and roll it underneath the sole of your foot – this will help release the tension in your foot. (and it feels like a foot massage!)

ball under foot

We recommend that you try going through these ski exercises daily (or a few times a week) in the run up to your ski holiday. Finally, when you’re on holiday remember to stretch out those legs before you head out of the boot room each morning!