How to Take Care of Yourself and Get Ready for Enjoyable Skiing

Skiing smartly and care free down the mountain, you are confident you are the next woman’s Olympic champion, joining the ranks of Lindsey Vonn, the defending Olympic downhill gold medalist, or Maria Riesch the double gold medalist in slalom and combined.

Or you may experience the agony of defeat and all sorts of unusual funny leg, arm, and body positions…while flying through the air or lying on the ground.

Whether you are just starting out, an immediate, or top-notched skier, you should know how to exercise properly. By taking care of yourself, you can improve, avoid hurting yourself and enjoy skiing for a lifetime.

Exercises to do before and after skiing
Preparation for pleasurable and injury-free skiing involves exercises to increase muscle flexibility, strength, and endurance. You can then: 1) navigate ski turns and obstacles more tightly and quickly, 2) better accommodate and recover from unexpected skiing positions before and after falls, and 3) ski longer and harder courses and for a longer time without fatiguing, developing leg cramps, and increasing your injury risk.

A workout partner can help you further benefit from exercising than if you worked out alone.

Get a checkup and clearance from a physician before you start, especially if you have a medical condition.

To monitor your workout intensity, you can monitor your heart rate, how you feel, and your level of sweat. The American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate of 50-75% of your maximum heart rate (220-your age).

Breathe properly
The exercise of inhaling and exhaling is an essential component of all exercises and skiing. Some exercisers do not learn how to breathe properly, thereby increasing their risk of injury. Holding your breath at the wrong time can increased body, eye, and head pressure and strain, leading to fainting, dizziness, heart attacks, strokes, and hernias.

Breathing correctly will help you maximize your workout productivity by bringing to your body essential oxygen for aerobic functions. The skiers’ power and stamina come from the following energy sources:

………………….Adenosine Troposphere (ATP) Energy: % Derived From
………………….Aerobic (oxygen-required) Anaerobic (absence of oxygen)
Ski Course ………………………………………..Creatine Phosphate….Lactic Acid
Downhill……………………45 ………………………10 ………………………….45
Slalom …………………….10-40 …………………..20-40……………………..40-50
Giant Slalom……………..20-40……………………20-30……………………..40-50

Inhale slowly and fully. Then do the same for exhalation. Repeat. Inhaling and exhaling steadily and slowly are appropriate accompaniments for skiing and all flexibility and endurance exercises. During resistance and strength exercises (e.g. weight lifting), exhale during the exertion phase.

After skiing, do you feel leg heaviness or cramps, to the point where “they are lead”? These symptoms point to a significant muscle lactate buildup and insufficient body oxygen. It is a warning that your muscles are reacting slower or not at all and you are now at higher risk for ski injuries. Recover by resting, breathing properly, eating nutritious food, and stretching to clear out the muscle lactate. Otherwise, you may be done skiing for the rest of your vacation or contest. At least you get to enjoy the ski lodge.

Rotational Side Leg Lifts (works most of the leg muscles)
Lie on your left side. Then lift your right (top) leg up (abduction) and hold for 10 seconds (you can increase this holding time, as you advance). Move your whole leg in clockwise and counter clockwise circles. Repeat 10 times.

While the upper part of the leg remains stationary, flex and extend at the knee 10 times. Then flex, extend, and rotate your foot at the ankle 10 times, while keeping the remainder of the leg stationary. Flex and extend all your toes 10 times. Move the right leg back to the starting position (adduction).
Lift your left or bottom leg up. Hold for 10 seconds or longer. Repeat 10 times.

Turn over and onto your right side. Repeat the above exercises, except now with the legs reversed.

Hamstring and Hip Abductors Stretch
Lie on your back, with arms straight on the ground at 90 degrees to your body. Move your left leg across your body, so that it is 90 degrees or less relative to your torso. You should feel a comfortable stretch of your hamstring area. Hold for up to 1 minute. Perform the same exercise with the other leg. Continue alternating legs and repeat 10 times for each leg.

Calf and Shin Stretch
Find a safe staircase with side rails or wall onto which you can hold. While holding onto the rails, place your feet so that the balls of the feet (forefoot area) are on a stair and the hind foot areas are midair. Raise the left leg off the ground. Let your own weight move your right heel below the level of the step. You should feel a comfortable calf stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Then rise up on the ball of your right foot as high as possible. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Then repeat, using the other foot and leg.

Front Lunges (stretches mainly hamstring, calf, thigh muscles)
Stand straight. Move your left foot as far forward as possible, while keeping the left knee bent at 90 degrees. Rest your hands on the left thigh and keep the right leg straight. Start the exercise again, except instead move your right foot forward.

Side Lunges (stretches inner thigh hip adductors, thigh and knee area muscles)
While standing straight, move your feet far apart sideways with your toes still pointed forward. Extend your arms fully forward and gradually shift your weight laterally right until you are almost sitting down. Keep the left leg straight. In a similar fashion, move your body and weight toward your left foot. After each good stretch, repeat the above 10 times.

Jumping Over a Box
Find a small box, over which you can jump (e.g. start from 1/4-1′ in height) and one that would not hurt you if you landed on it (e.g. cardboard). Stand still on one side of the box and jump over the box from any direction: forward, backward, sideway.

Congratulations, you just jumped over your first box mogul!

Jump as many times as you like, or for 5-30 minutes. To be even more advanced, you could line up many boxes in double black diamond mogul fashion and jump over them one at a time…on your way to gold!!

Jumping Up and Down a Hill in Zig Zag Fashion
Find a grassy hill with a gradual incline (5 degrees for starters, while up to 30 degrees for advanced skiers). To cushion any falls, grass is preferable to asphalt and concrete hills. Jump in a zig zag fashion up the hill and then back down. Repeat as often as you wish. The hill jump can be turned into a 30-60 minute ski workout.

These superb exercises can be the start of your first ski workout… or can spice up and complement your existing one.

Get ready for some great skiing!

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