Tahoe skiing: Get strength for the slopes with these 4 preseason exercises
As ski and snowboard season nears, winter sports enthusiasts can’t wait to get back on the mountain. But an injury can quickly derail that enthusiasm.
A successful return to the slopes starts with proper preparation and conditioning. While some injuries can’t be avoided, an exercise routine leading up to the first time on the mountain can help ease the transition to getting back on skis or a snowboard.
“It’s getting in shape to play a sport, not playing a sport to get in shape,” said Jeremy Vandehurst, an athletic trainer with Barton Health on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore. “That’s a huge component of any activity.”
In the weeks leading up to opening day, an every-other-day routine that focuses on core, hip, quad and glute strength — muscles typically engaged while skiing or snowboarding — is a good place to start.
Along with that, exercises should ideally last 30 to 120 seconds — the length of a typical run.
With those ideas in mind, Vandehurst recommends four exercises to prepare for the upcoming season. Wall sits, single-leg lunges, bridges and planks are a good foundation for a winter sports-oriented workout routine — and can be done differently as strength increases.
“There’s so many different variations we can do with these exercises,” Vandehurst said. “It gives a person that’s just starting out and somebody that is already pretty fit different options.”
1. WALL SITS
This exercise synonymous with basketball practice activates the core, hamstrings and quads — and will quickly be felt.
Put your back flat against the wall and sit on an imaginary chair, starting with a 75-degree angle for 30 seconds — then go up time and move closer to a 90-degree angle as strength increases.
Note: Start with 30 seconds and increase time as needed.
2. SINGLE-LEG LUNGES
Vandehurst said single-leg exercises are pivotal for snowboarders, who typically don’t have a balance between both legs while on the board. Lunges are a starting point for single-leg exercises.
“A lot of times snowboarders rely on that one back leg and they don’t switch,” Vandehurst said. “A program that incorporates both legs individually is important.”
Stretch one leg forward while bending the knee of the back leg to perform this exercise, which is great for increasing quad and glute strength.
Drive your weight through the heel of the front foot, and don’t put your knee past your toe while moving forward — add weight as strength increases or a twist at the end to engage the core.
Note: Start with three sets of 10 total lunges.
A common issue that leads to knee injuries on and off the mountain is disproportionate strength between quads and hamstrings.
Performing the bridge exercise is one way to build hamstring strength. While laying down flat on the ground, bend your knees and lift your hips in the air — pause at the top and slowly lower back down. This exercise can also be performed with weight.
Note: Start with three sets of 10.
Not to be confused with the past Internet phenomenon of laying flat in random areas, this exercise hits the core to prepare it for the upcoming twists and turns on the mountain. Many variations exist for this exercise, with the basic being to rest on your forearms and elbows while keeping everything else off the ground — if that’s too tough, start on your knees.
Note: Start with 15 seconds, and increase time as needed.