Are you Ski Fit and Ready for the Slopes?
If you've already booked your winter ski holiday, we know you will be looking forward to the thrill of skiing or snowboarding down a snow-covered mountainside with clear blue skies overhead and fresh mountain air in your lungs. However we also know the importance of preparing to ensure a safe and injury-free holiday! The perfect way to do this is by taking part in a Pilates class of course!
As any keen skier will tell you, preparation and pre-ski training should focus on:
- Correct core stabilization
- Good pelvic stability
- Mobility, strength and flexibility of key muscles
By focusing on correct core muscle engagement, Pilates exercises helps a skier to focus on allowing the movement to start from the centre of the body and move outwards. The result is a stronger and more adaptable skier with improved body awareness and proprioception. By practicing Pilates, you will develop a strong core and improve balance and agility. With the additional core strength, the skier can improve his or her edging and transfer a powerful line of energy into the skis. A strong core, coupled with improved alignment, will also reduce impact on a skier’s back, hips, and knees. As a result, the skier becomes energy efficient and reduces wear and tear on his or her joints.
Good posture and alignment will help maintain control whilst skiing. Good skiing alignment follows the same principles as a standing Pilates set up position with the torso being upright and the shoulders soft thereby allowing the jaw and neck to be at ease. Ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders are held in stacked alignment, thereby eliminating any pressure on the joints.
Pilates is excellent cross-training for skiers to regain muscle balance and avoid sport specific injuries. Bringing the body back into balance requires stretching the muscles that are dominant in skiing and strengthening the less dominant muscles; many Pilates exercises do both.
Skiers run the risk of many different injuries, but most commonly, those to the knees, where anterior cruciate ligament tears (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the meniscus. Pilates helps skiers really focus on a dynamic and full range of motion and the strengthening of the hamstrings, which can help balance overused quads as well as serve as back up support for the ACL.
Another area overused a lot in skiing is the lower back. Injuries here often occur from fatigue and weak core muscles. Often the hip or lower extremity moves and then the pelvis and lumbar spine follow, increasing the stress on the spine as well as causing unnecessary muscle imbalances, and ultimately injuries.
By including a Pilates class in your weekly fitness regime you can safely prepare for the ski season.
Happy skiing and snowboarding!