As the winter season descends upon us, the Mid-State Health Center’s Physical Therapy Department is gearing up to assist skiing enthusiasts in preparing their bodies for the slopes. With the snow-covered mountains beckoning, it’s crucial to ensure that your body is conditioned and ready for the physical demands of skiing. To aid in this preparation, our expert physical therapists have curated a comprehensive set of stretches and strengthening exercises tailored specifically for the ski season.
Stretches to Enhance Flexibility
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Maintain flexibility in your hamstrings to enhance your skiing performance. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hinge at your hips, and reach towards your toes. Hold for 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch along the back of your thighs.
- Seated Piriformis Stretch: Sit on the floor/chair with one foot crossed over the opposite knee, hug your knee, and gently twist towards the bent knee. This stretch targets the piriformis muscle, crucial for hip mobility and preventing discomfort on the slopes.
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on one knee, push your hips forward, and keep your back straight. This stretch targets the hip flexors, vital for maintaining an upright posture during skiing. Hold for 15-30 seconds on each side.
- Standing Quadriceps Stretch: Standing on one leg, bend the other knee, and bring your foot towards your buttocks. Hold your ankle with your hand to feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Maintain balance and hold for 15-30 seconds on each leg.
- Standing Calf Stretch: Doing one leg at a time, stand with your toes on a step with heel off the back. Make sure you have something to hold on to. Lower the heel off the step until you can feel a stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each side.
Strengthening Exercises for Power and Stability
- Squats/Sit to Stands: Build lower body strength essential for skiing by performing squats or sit-to-stands. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body as if sitting in a chair, then rise back up. (Modify this by starting in the chair sitting on the front edge. When descending, go slow and controlled.) Repeat 10-15 times.
- Reverse/Forward Lunges: Enhance leg strength and stability with reverse and forward lunges. Step backward or forward with one leg, lowering your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. (Use a chair at the side for safety. You may have your back knee hover the floor, it does not need to touch the floor.) Repeat on each leg 10-15 times.
- Standing Hip Abduction: Use a resistance band around your ankles to perform standing hip abduction exercises. Lift one leg sideways against the resistance, targeting the hip abductors. (Lift without band to modify.) Repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
- Calf Raises: Strengthen your calves, crucial for navigating varied terrain, by performing calf raises. Stand on a flat surface, rise onto your toes, and then lower your heels. (Stand in front of counter/sink or back of chair to stay tall.) Repeat 15-20 times.
- Forward & Side Planks: Develop core strength with forward and side planks. Hold a plank position for up to 30-60 seconds, ensuring a straight line from head to heels. Engage your core muscles for stability. (Modify by resting on elbows/forearms and/or knees.)
- Bridges: Lie on your back with knees bent and lift your hips towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds, engaging your glutes and core. Repeat 15-20 times.
By incorporating these stretches and strengthening exercises into your pre-ski routine, you can enhance your flexibility, strength, and overall performance on the slopes. The Mid-State Health Center’s Physical Therapy Department encourages all ski enthusiasts to prioritize their physical well-being to make the most of the upcoming winter season.
For further information or to schedule an appointment, please contact: 603-536-5533.