Can you feel it? That cool whisper creeping into the air? Shorter days. Colder temperatures.
Like it or not, winter is coming, and we’re not talking Game of Thrones. We’re talking ski and snowboard season up on the mountain, that joyous time of year where the promise of a bluebird day draws eager riders to high-altitude resorts around the country. Vale. Tahoe. Brian’s Head. Mammoth Lakes.
They’re vast, they’re beastly, and to tackle them safely this coming ski season, you’ll need to make sure your body is ready, no matter your preferred manner of chasing freshies.
Why do you need to prepare your body? Easy. A lack of conditioning leads to fatigue, fatigue leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to injuries. Falls, unexpected tumbles, and collisions present a real danger, no matter your skill level.
Common Ski and Snowboard Injuries
- ACL sprains and tears
- Ankle sprains
- Leg fractures
- Back pain, spinal damage
- Wrist, hand, thumb
- Shoulder dislocations, collarbone fractures
Looking at the list, you might feel like you could have written it yourself given the nature of winter sports. But you’d be surprised how often these injuries are caused not by a lack of skill, but a lack of conditioning, strength, and preparation.
And even if you’re in great shape, few people make it to their second day on the mountain without muscle soreness (alongside a couple bumps and bruises). Think about it: constantly bending the knees; holding a crouched position for extended periods of time, doing things you’re not used to doing after spending so much time commuting or sitting at work. Snowboarders are often one foot in, one foot out, “skating” toward the lift, which puts the legs in an awkward position.
And don’t forget the long, cramped lift rides to the top of the mountain.
So, here are six exercises you can do to make sure you’re ready to do more than just avoid injury.
These exercises will have you ready to shred.
Yes, we must start with core strength. Elbows and toes on the ground, holding the legs and back straight. Hold for thirty seconds. Turn to your right side and hold thirty seconds. Same thing on the left. Repeat three times.
Reverse Exercise Ball Crunches
Lay yourself down with the exercise ball positioned just above your midsection, legs straight back, toes touching the ground. Touch your hands to your head and lift upward. Complete three sets of 15-30 repetitions, depending on how you feel.
Free Squat and Lunge Circuit
Squats and lunges are amazing because they train a broad range of muscle groups and you can do them anywhere. Complete one set of 10-20 squat repetitions, depending on your level of conditioning. Be sure to keep your heels planted, pushing through them as you dip no lower than parallel with the knee. Once complete, it’s time for a set of 10-20 front lunges. Be sure to keep your forward knee over your ankle, and do not overextend. Take it slow. Repeat this circuit three to five times, depending on your level of conditioning.
Cardiovascular conditioning is crucial, especially when you’re skiing or snowboarding in the high thin air. And you know what that means: time to hit the pavement! A twenty- to thirty-minute jog, three times a week, can go a long way. Use a treadmill, if that’s more comfortable, but be sure to work in some ripples: backward runs; side shuffles; sprints. Get the heart rate up and watch how it translates to better endurance on the slopes.
How about a dose of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Look no further than the all-enduring, ever-present burpee. These things are like cockroaches, the way they stick around. But there’s a reason that this is the total-body training exercise of choice for the military, football teams, and boxing gyms. Perform three sets of 10-20 repetitions; or complete a bigger number in one sitting for maximum results. How to do a burpee.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include yoga as a wonderful way to increase flexibility and, once you’re on the mountain, warm up for a full day. Lest we bore you with a wordy description of sun salutations A and B, here’s a really good ten-minute routine from SnowboardProCamp.
There You Have It
Our list of exercises will surely get you ready for a towering somersault into knee-deep, highly shreddable pow-pow. Set up a routine that includes these exercises in the months leading up to your first trip, and you’ll be well on your way!
Oh, and please don’t forget to stretch.