Exercises to Help You Stay Safe on the Slopes

By Dr. Carl Wierks & Chris Wise PT, DPT

If you want to enjoy a full day of skiing and snowboarding, regular exercise and the proper conditioning is vital to avoid injury. Many injuries occur toward the end of the day, when people become fatigued. Here are some exercises that will get you into the best shape and ready for the hill.

Upper/Lower Extremity Extension – On your hands and knees, tighten your stomach and raise your right leg and opposite left arm. Keep your trunk rigid. Bend trunk and touch your elbow to your knee underneath your body then return to starting position. Repeat 15 times on each side. Repeat for 2 sets.

Gravity Resisted Half-Kneeling –While “taking a knee,” slowly take deep breaths in for four seconds and out for six seconds while balancing. If you need more of a challenge, raise and lower your arms during the exercise with your stomach tightened. Continue this for 60 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Repeat for two sets.

Bracing with March in Bridging –While lying on your back with you knee bent up and feet on bed, tighten pelvic floor and abdominals and lift your bottom up from the bed. While holding this position, march 15 times in place by lifting opposite legs back and forth. Repeat for two sets.

Gym ball: Hip Lift –Lie on your right side with your feet together on a ball. Support your head with your hand and lift your hips up off of the floor in line with your knees. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat two times on each side.

Gym ball: Prop on Forearms –Prop yourself onto a ball on your elbows with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep your back straight and body off of the floor, roll the ball backward and forward. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat two times on both sides.

Unilateral-Forward Lean – Stand on your left foot with your hands on your hips. Keeping your hips level, bend forward kicking the back leg out in alignment with the rest of the body. Hold for three seconds and then relax. Repeat 15 times each leg for two sets.

Band Walk: Side Stepping –Tie a stretchy “TheraBand” band around your legs, just above the knees. Step 15 feet to one side then step back to start. Repeat for two sets.

Quad Strength: Single-Leg Step-Up– On a step, step up and straighten the leg to stand tall. Return to your original position. Repeat 15 times on each leg for two sets.

Glutes/Thighs Lunge –With your legs shoulder-width apart, head up, back straight, step forward bending the right leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Alternate legs. Repeat 15 times on each leg for two sets.

Wall Sit –Place your back against the wall and slide into a sitting position. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes and then raise yourself back up. Repeat for 2 sets.

Plank –Lie on your stomach on the floor. Then prop yourself onto your elbows and toes, keeping your body rigid like a plank of wood. Hold for 1-2 minutes and then lower back down. Repeat for 2 sets.

Quadriceps Stretch –Lie along the edge of the table with your right knee bent up, and your other foot on the floor. Using your hand or a belt, pull the heel toward your buttock. Hold for 30 seconds.

Hamstring Stretch –Place your right foot on a stool with your knee straight, slowly lean forward keeping your back straight until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds.

Hip Stretch –Sitting on an edge of a table, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Let your right knee fall downward but keep ankle in place. You can push down gently with a hand or lean forward to help you feel a stretch in the hip. Hold for 30 seconds.

Remember, you can’t “ski yourself” into shape. It is important to spend a few weeks before you hit the slopes getting some aerobic activity, stretching, doing core exercises, and working on your balance so that you can ski and snowboard all day without tiring out.