Just back from an amazing week skiing at the Lac Salin Hotel & Moutain Resort in Livigno (where I also run a mountain biking business in the summer, www.monkeymtb.com) in the Italian Alps and boy do I feel like I’ve been skiing for a week!
I have been trying to increase my leg work recently in preparation, but having lessons where I was learning to carve at high speeds for 4 hours each day really pushed my body to its limit, not just in terms of strength, but also flexility and range of motion. So whilst this blog post is probably a bit late for many of you this year, I thought it best to write it when my body was still telling me what it needed and this will hopefully serve as a little reminder for us all next year!
Also as I write the exercises that I think would provide you with the most benefit, I’m aware that many of these take months to perfect and sometimes even longer to really gain the strategies and strength needed to really perfect the moves and get them subconsciously into your nervous system.
So this is a plan of where you need to get yourself to, ready for next year. So you can use this year to build your movement patterns to a place where you can master some of these complex moves with ease - hopefully transferring them to the mountain with as much ease…and grace!
So when we think of skiing prep we usually think of lots and lots of squats. But what I thought was interesting was what part of a squat movement is it that’s really important? What is it that a squat movement patterns is trying to teach us that means it’s relevant for ski training? It’s not simply the strength to squat and hold squats, it’s also about what the squat is trying to teach our bodies: quality knee flexion, ankle flexion plus endurance to the muscles - all key components for skiing at any level. How many of you have sore knees after skiing? If you do, we need to be looking at how to improve your dynamic movement patterns in your legs to prevent the knees from being overloaded.
Trapeze Table: Assisted Squats including one leg versions, rotating disc variations
Chair: Achilles stretch, Forwards Lunge
Mat: Leg circles - important for internal rotation of hips which you’ll need if you’re just learning to ski for the first time
Reformer: Footwork with rotation variations and single leg variations, Leg Circles
The skiing position also demands a lot of your pelvis, and therefore your lumber spine, in rotation, when the legs are also under load. This explains why your lower back, especially on one side, can feel tight after a day on the slopes.
Mat: Pelvic clock, Side to Side with legs down and in table top
Reformer: Bridging with rotation and push out variation
It’s really important that you understand how to keep your spine stable when required and also have the mobility in it when the position or the slope calls for it. You see new skiers and they look really stiff (either very upright, or almost like they’re sitting down) and haven’t mastered the ability to move on their skis (usually for fear - don’t worry this comes with practice!). You need to be able to stand up and bend your knees to get down into the turn. And to do that you need to have good rotation, good flexion and good lateral flexion of the spine.
Mat: Spine twist, standing roll down,
Reformer: Mermaid, Cleopatra
Trapeze Table: Roll Back, Swan on the Ball, Circumduction
Chair: Reverse swan, Mermaid with rotation
Your arms are often overlooked when training for a ski holiday but boy did my triceps feel it this year. All that polling yourself to the front of the lift queues and carrying your skis back from the apres-ski bar does take its toll!
Mat: Leg Pull
Reformer: Arm Arcs, Kneeling Arms (especially facing back)
Chair: Frog Facing Out, Tricep Dips
As I started to pick up more and more speed this year I really noticed how much my core was working to keep me balanced as the G-Force pushed on my body. So having a strong core which knows how to react with the appropriate amount of force for the load is really important.
Mat: Chest Lift, Single Leg Stretch, Double Leg Stretch, Criss-Cross,
Reformer: Kneeling Arms - facing back, Inverted V
FULL BODY INTEGRATION:
Skiing is a full body discipline, so it makes sense that to really train you also need to put all the aspects together and the Pilates Studio equipped with the machines is the perfect place for this.
Reformer: Russian Splits, Semi Circle
Trapeze Table: Magician, Breathing
Mat: Roll Down into plank & push up, Side Twist
I haven’t written up here how to perform all these exercises as most of them need supervision and a build up of lots of prep exercises in order to meet the positions and movement. The best way to do this is to join one of our Machine Classes where we work on all these pieces of equipment. If you’re interested in joining one of our classes then please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org