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Get fit to Ski this season


Finally! The new ski season is rapidly approaching upon us and it's time to wax those skis, dust off your boots and see if those few pounds you put on over the summer are preventing you from getting into your salopettes.


Now I know that you've taken great care over your equipment throughout the off season, so that you can get the best out of it on day one of your trip, but did you take any time to think about how your body will handle it?


The answer here is invariably - NO. We take for granted that our body will do it's job but in reality it is the one bit of equipment that is most likely to break. If you haven't skied for a year it's possible that your balance and coordination are not as honed as you might think. Going from our dry (ok wet) environment to the slippery slopes of the alps is a challenge for the body in the first hour or so of skiing. Altitude takes it's toll on your energy, and your muscles, along with all other tissues in the body, have suffered an age old problem of wasting from under use. Simply put 'Use it or lose it' is what your body thinks about muscles. This is because it takes energy to use them, so if they are not needed the body sheds the extra load.


So doing a few simple exercises to gain back the muscles lost over the summer will pay dividends for injury prevention and flat out enjoyment on day one of your holiday. Here are my recommended top three exercises for getting back that bit of lost strength.


The Ball Squat - Now, I teach this using a 3kg medicine ball but anything would do, like a large bag of flour. Basically use something that you could easily drop if you held it between your knees. Now you've found something to use as a weight, stand upright with your feet about hip width apart, toes pointing forward. Place the ball between your knees and grip it tight with your legs so it doesn't fall out. While keeping the ball in place, squat down into a tuck position, hold for a count of 5 and then come up to standing. Repeat 15 times or until fatigue sets in. This will work the muscles of the inner thigh (adductors) as well as the other thigh and butt muscles. And it's more fun than the old fasioned ski sits.


The Belt Squat - The second exercise is almost the same but instead of a ball between your knees you use a belt around them. As you repeat the squat movement you push your knees out into the belt so that it doesn't go loose and fall down your legs. Don't cheat this exercise by taking your feet out wider. Keep them hip width apart. Again, squat down, hold for 5 counts and then return. Repeat 15 times or until fatique sets in.


Toe Touches - The last exercise is Toe Touching. Standing on one leg with your knee bent about 20 degrees, touch your other toe as far out to the side as you can reach it, then quickly reach it acorss in front of you and as far to the other side as you can reach it. Keep the standing leg as stable and still as possible so you don't feel any stress on your knee. Return to centre and then I like to then touch my hands down to the floor in front of my foot, still on one leg, then come up and repeat the toe touch again. This will really work the hips and your balance. Do 15 - 20 reps and then change legs. Always quit when you feel fatigue set in so you maintain quality of movement.


These exercises are great starters for getting the muscles ready for skiing. They aren't the be-all and end-all of ski exercises but it'll give you a good start. You'll need a really good stretching programme to go along with these exercises but unfortunately stretching is not a one size fits all solution. Get yourself assessed by a trained Functional Exercise Professional and you'll have a recipe for your best ski season yet.


Have fun on the slopes!



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