Joint Prep for Skiers: 3 Exercises to Dominate Your Season
As summer winds to a close, with cooler days and longer nights, we have just one thing on our minds: hitting the slopes! There’s nothing quite like waking up to some fresh powder and heading to the mountain. The winter adventures await, but is your body ready for it?
Joint prep is important for skiers, especially if you haven't been working your lower body in quite the same way during the off season.
We all know someone (or maybe it is you!) who, on the first day of the powder season, landed themselves on the sidelines with some sort of injury. It's not about being careful, it's about being ready! Here at GymnasticBodies, we love the mountain as much as you, which is why we are committed to helping you enjoy a healthy, full-length ski season by zeroing in on the most common injury sites, strengthening them up just in time to grab the poles and head out the door.
The top injury site for skiers are their knees, at the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) to be exact. During skiing, the ACL and MCL can incur small injuries, such as a sprain, or more severe issues such as tears that may require surgery to correct. An ACL injury is typically caused when the knee is suddenly forced backward, side to side, or twisted, such as when making a sudden turn on the mountain, or coming to a fast stop. MCL injuries are most common when your knees are bent, and you change direction quickly. Knowing this, we can strengthen those knee movements outside our everyday range of motion. Include the following exercises into your ski prehab routine!
Find more movements for knee health in the Gymnasticbodies Foundation Series.
Joint Prep Drill #1: Speed Skater Squats
Knees, ankles, and hips scream for joint prep! The speed skater squat takes all lower body joints into account; strengthening and mobilizing them, making you feel like a brand new person! Try it with us. Start standing on one leg, with the other leg bent at a 90-degree angle behind you. Keeping your shin parallel to the floor, squat down until your shin is resting on the floor a few inches behind your supporting heel. Do your best to have the foot and knee both touch down and rise from the floor at the same time. This exercise will help all the little pieces of your knee work together to stabilize you while you’re flying down the mountain. Repeat for 5 reps and then switch sides.
Joint Prep Drill #2: Squat Hold
Since keeping your weight balanced while skiing is of utmost importance, skiers have to keep their knees bent for long periods of time. If your knees aren’t used to this position, you might end up hobbling away at the end of the day. Practicing your squats can help prep your leg muscles for this work and give your knees some back-up when they need it most. Start standing with your legs hip-width apart. Squat down to the lowest position you can maintain hold for time. Work on increasing the depth of your squat and the amount of time you can hold it. 2 minutes is an excellent long-term goal!
More important than the depth of your squat is to pay attention to your knees and make sure they are always in line with your toes. If your knees have a tendency to roll inward as you squat, lessen the depth and focus on pulling your knees out so they are lined up with your feet. This will ensure proper tracking when you’re skiing too, increasing the chances that you walk away with plenty of pep left in your step!
Joint Prep Drill #3: Skiers
A fitting name, and rightfully so. This joint prep movement will help strengthen your side-to-side knee stability. Start standing upright with your feet together. Twist your hips to one side as you lower your behind, trying to get your glutes in line with your knees, but stopping at a depth that feels comfortable. Straighten back up to the starting position before repeating on the other side. Repeat for 10 total reps (5 on each side).
Keep working these exercises and you’ll start to feel more stable and controlled on the slopes this season: hopefully faster and stronger too. We hope you have a safe, healthy and awesome winter! Tell us about the adventures you have planned below!
These exercises are meant to be preventative while strengthening you up for the season ahead. But, as always, be aware of your body and see your doctor if you suspect you are injured. A successful ski season means prepping your joints and lower half to withstand the elements of nature. Our Foundation One and Two Courses contain Coach Sommer's basic lower body prehab programming, including the knee series (along with full body mobilizing and strengthening exercises) so be sure to click the link and get started now!