Fitness

Shape up for the slopes

Get fit for ski with four simple exercises you can do at home

For savvy skiers who want to make the most out of their time in the snow, it’s important to prepare the body, mind and muscles, to avoid the fun being curtailed by sprains, aches and pains. Richie Norton, nicknamed ‘The Strength Temple’ and who works as a trainer at Our Retreat, claims that simple daily rituals can improve fitness, balance and posture; taking you from a nervous novice to master of the mountain. Practising a circuit of exercises that build strength, stability and stamina in the run-up to the trip will lower the risk of injury and increase a speedy recovery.

Exercise 1 – Skier’s Squats

Stand straight with your feet hip or shoulder-width apart, keeping weight through your heels to prevent lift; take a breath in to help brace the body before you lower down. If doing this with just your bodyweight, lift the arms to provide a counterbalance, and send your hips back as if you were about to take a seat. Take the movement down as low as feels comfortable, aiming for a neutral spine and an engaged core throughout. Exhaling breath at the top of the movement, then repeat.

Exercise 2 – Side Lunge   

This is a slightly more advanced lunge that aims to improve range of motion, mobility and strength. Start standing as you would in a normal lunge, chest high, head forward and feet shoulder-width apart. Take a large step out to the side, bending that knee and aiming to keep the other knee straight. Concentrate on pushing the hips back, as if going to sit down, and keep the foot of the bent leg flat on the ground. Maintaining good alignment and braced ‘core’; think neutral spine. You can also add a rotation here if you want to increase your range and feel challenged.

Exercise 3 – Spinal  Articulation

Promoting movement through the spine is essential to achieve mobility, increase range of motion and help prevent injury, keeping the spine healthy and prepared for the extra wear and tear snow sports often add. Spinal articulation can take several forms, but Richie recommends a Yoga-inspired version that can be advanced depending how much you want to free up the movement. On all fours (table position), shoulders over hands and hips over knees, moving slowly, on the inhale look forward as you lift the chest, drop the shoulders back and raise the hips. On the exhale, drop chin to the chest, push away from the floor to open up the space between the shoulder blades, rounding the back, tucking the tail bone, and releasing the full length of the spine.

Exercise 4 – Classic Lunge (with optional twist)

Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Keep your chin straight – staring at something in the distance can help – and engage your core. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90˚ angle. Your front leg should be directly above your ankle, and your other knee just above the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to starting.

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