Skiing can be a mixed bag, one minute you are flying down the slopes, then next you have a crashed and you have mouth full of snow. If you're lucky you haven't sustained an injury, a twisted knee, a sprained wrist or worse a broken bone.
There are some things you can't control on the slopes, other skiers, the weather, the visibility, but there are measures you can take to make sure you have the strength in your legs to maximise the fun factor and hopefully prevent any falls.
Your ability, skill and experience play the biggest role in how well you ski and how many falls and injuries are actually prevented, but the better your balance is and the stronger your legs are, the safer you will be and the more efficient you will ski.
There a three major muscle groups that should be trained to give you maximum benefits on the slopes.
The first is the quadriceps. This is the group of muscles that are at the front of the thighs and join onto the knees. They help to straighten the knee but are also the main muscles that help you to squat down or hold a squat position.
These muscles are incredibly important in maximising your ability to withstand the G-Forces you create when skiing. As you carve down the slope or you turn around a bend you will feel some resistance coming up from the ground, your boots and skis and the stronger your quadriceps muscles are the more speed you will be able to withstand without your legs giving way underneath you and thus increasing the fun factor when hurtling down the slopes.
The second muscle group is the gluteals or otherwise known as the buttocks. These play the second biggest role in skiing but probably the biggest in stabilising the legs and helping you to balance. The buttocks are a group of several muscles, the two major ones are the gluteus maximus, which largest of them all and the gluteus medius which is more at the side of the hip joint.
However, there are many other smaller important muscles involved in stabilising the legs and body as well and they all need to be worked to achieve the best results.
The problem is that most of us have lazy bottoms as most of the time they are being sat upon and not used! Believe it or not, you can go for a run without actually using your buttock muscles much at all many of us compensate by using our thigh and calf muscles instead.
On the other hand, exercises such as lunges and squats, whilst great, tend to work the gluteus maximus muscle only (if at all) and forget the smaller muscles around the sides of the hips. Without a doubt, the most effective, targeted way to tone your buttocks is by doing some simple Pilates buttock exercises.
These exercises target not only the larger muscles, but also all of the smaller ones giving you the strength needed to stabilise the legs in such an active and dynamic sport such as skiing.
The third muscle group that will help to improve your skiing is your abdominals. The abdominal muscles help you to balance and also prevent back pain. This is important for both a happy and healthy ski holiday. It's important to train all of the abdominal muscles to increase your 'core stability'. The abdominals are made up of different layers of muscles, the most important of this muscle group is the Transversus Abdominus.
This muscle is often the hardest to activate and the most often neglected when training the abs. To engage the Transversus Abdominus imagine a horizontal line connecting the hip bones on the surface of the stomach and to activate this muscle, focus on drawing that imaginary line down towards the spine and drawing the hip bones together.
If you visit a Pilates studio your instructor will be able to help you to activate this muscle and increase your awareness of it. Your local physiotherapist should also be able to help. Pilates will help you to train the abdominals and especially the Transversus Abdominus to increase your core stability, minimise back pain and increase your balance.
It pays to prepare:
It's important to start a focussed exercise and strengthening routine at least 12 weeks before hitting the slopes. Your body will take time to change and gain strength and adapt to the training you are doing. Combine any Pilates with running for leg endurance and cardio. Try to do some rebounding or jumping exercises to get you joints ready for any impact from rough terrain or the many bumps and moguls that appear in the snow by the end of the day.
Your should try to exercise most days in the 12 weeks leading up to your ski trip but being mindful to rest when you need it.
For some great Pilates leg workouts at home try the Miniskirt Makeover or the Brazilian Butt Toner DVDs from Studio Pilates International® which give a 45 min all over body workout with a focus on the legs and buttocks. For a full range of Pilates products and DVDs to help you to injury proof your body before hitting the slopes, visit the Studio Pilates International® website at www.studiopilates.com or Click here to purchase
To do classes in a Studio Pilates International studio call 07 3899 4555