Ski Injury Prevention

Great Article by Elizabeth Quinn

Strength and Conditioning Exercises to Prevent Ski and Snowboard Injuries

Downhill skiing and snowboarding can result in both serious and minor injuries if you aren’t prepared. Skiers and snowboarders often require specific conditioning and workout routines to not only perform better and prevent fatigue, but to help reduce the risk of injury on the slopes.

Strength, flexibility, endurance and agility drills for skiers and boarders are essential for both recreational and the expert skiers. Most skiers return to the slopes after months away. While some athletes participate in other sports during the off-season to stay in shape, many are weekend warriors. No matter what type of a skier you are, you could wind up with minor aches, pains or a serious injury if you don’t spend a little time preparing for the demands of your sport.

Skiing and boarding require both technical and physical skills including strength, endurance, agility and balance.

Muscular Strength

Muscular strength improves your ability to relax and still maintain control, while making quick adjustments needed on uneven terrain. All the major muscle groups of the body, especially the core, are used for skiing. A great strength exercises is a single leg squat. A second great strength exercise is a weighted quadriceps squat.

Explosive Power

When strength training is combined with speed, quickness and agility training, power is developed and expert level skiers are born. Exercises that create power include:

  • plyometrics
  • sprinting
  • agility drills
  • weighted step ups
  • hill or stair running

Plyometrics are commonly referred to as explosive types of exercise drills often used in the conditioning program for skiers along with weight training because the combination of squatting and cycling develops the quality leg and hip power necessary for high performance skiing. One great exercise is to stand on a bench or box (12 inches or so), jump down and then immediately back up. Do this 10-30 seconds at a time, rest and repeat. Experts can try to do one-leg jumps.

Flexibility

The best stretches for skiers and boarders focus on the lower extremities and snow boarders need to stretch the upper body as well. One great core stretch is a core twist. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your arms crossed in front of you. Slowly look over one shoulder and let your whole body follow until you feel a good stretch in the back and side. Hold 5 seconds and repeat in the other direction. Hamstring and Quadriceps stretches are also recommended for skiers.

Endurance

For cardiovascular endurance good preparation exercises include: road, mountain or stationary biking. It build the heart and lungs and focuses on the leg muscles used during skiing. To Warm-up with an easy spin of 5 minutes and then add high intensity efforts (sprint) for about 30 seconds. Spin easy for a minutes and repeat 2-5 times depending upon your fitness level. Cool down about 5 minutes and you have a great workout.

Technical Skills

Technical skills start with lessons from a certified Physiotherapist.

Balance Training

Working on balance can include one-legged squats or work on balance boards.

Agility Exercise

To improve side to side agility stand in a relaxed half squat position and step quickly side-to-side (maintain the squat). As you improve, jump side-to-side keeping the inside foot off the ground and the focus of your weight on your outside foot/inside edge. Perform for 30 seconds, rest and repeat several times.

Plyometric Exercise

Many fitness experts use plyometric exercise to build power and speed, improve coordination and agility and effectively improve performance. It is important to point out that plyometrics, if performed incorrectly by the wrong individuals, can increase the risk of injury.

ACL Injury Prevention Training Program

While this ACL injury prevention program was designed for soccer players, the training routine, principles and concepts apply very closely to skiing and snowboarding expert terrain.

This ACL Prevention Training has been discussed in a previous Blog – see earlier.

Consider adding this great warm up to your training program before you head to the slopes.

Take a look at these great video posts by Austrailian Sports Physiotherapists Randall Cooper and Andrew Wynd of their top 10 tips for the prevention of alpine skiing related injuries.
Click here.

If you are interested in finding out more or get proper training tips from a certified Physiotherapist with Alpine experience, Contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.

By Dana Clark