Before you hit the slopes for a day of skiing, be sure to spend some time stretching to loosen up muscles and avoid injury. Dr. Brian Cole, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and avid skier, believes that going out cold is one of the quickest ways to get hurt. He suggests doing some of the following core and leg-based warmups before heading out for a day on the slopes:
You’ll often see Olympic skiers doing leg swings to loosen up before a run. Before you click in to your boots, plant your poles in front of you on a snow-covered surface where you won’t slide and swing one leg repetitively from front to back. After a minute or two of repetitions, switch legs. For added challenge, raise the heel of your planted foot.
The lower body is critical in the mechanics of skiing, and lunges are a perfect lower body warmup. From a standing position, step forward with a large stride. Then dip to close to a 90-degree angle with the front knee and the rear leg extended. Hold the position as long as you feel comfortable, and then alternate legs. This stretch focuses on quads and hamstrings as well as hips.
Before suiting up, do some short jumps from front-to-back and side-to-side to help to loosen up. Flex up and down on each jump to emulate skiing movements.
Heel and Calf Stretches
For a good calf stretch, stand near a wall, place one hand on the wall for balance and lift the leg closest to the wall slightly. Then lift your heel on the other foot to stand on your toes. Repeat the raising and lowering motion for a minute or two and switch legs.
Before putting on your boots, lower to a lunge position and then jump and switch to the alternate jump position.
Finally, after your day on the mountains take some time to cool down and stretch again. Stretching will help reduce soreness by improving blood flow, getting rid of metabolic waste and delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles so you can hit the slopes pain free the next day.
Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center
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