Is trying on your ski pants and jacket from last season the way you check your readiness for hitting the slopes? While it might be a place to start, there are some other considerations.
As with most sports, early-season conditioning should be in all of our thoughts. Easing into a routine is helpful so you’re not put off by the aftermath of going too big, too early in the season. In other words, you don’t want to be so sore that you’re one the sidelines for a few days or longer.
Start with stretching – something that can be done in the comfort of your own home. If you haven’t already started a stretching routine, now is the time to activate those skiing and riding muscles. This way you will get the most out of your first week and to continue to condition yourself for the season to come. Stretches that involve the muscles in our shoulders, neck, and arms to back, hips, legs and ankles should all be considered so we can give it our best this season. Here are a few reminders regarding stretching.
- Do a light warm-up of walking or jogging for several minutes prior to stretching.
- The key to stretching is to be relaxed while you concentrate on the area being stretched. Your breathing should be slow, deep and rhythmical. Don’t worry about how far you can stretch. Certainly if you have had any recent surgery, muscle, or joint problems, please consult your personal health care professional before starting a stretching program.
- Stretching should be done slowly without bouncing to where you feel a slight easy stretch. While holding the stretch for 5-20 seconds, the feeling of tension should diminish. If the tension does not go away back off slightly into a more comfortable position. Stretching in this way reduces tension and readies the tissue for further stretching. Hold only stretch tension that feels good to you.
- After holding the easy stretch move a fraction of an inch farther into the stretch until you feel mild tension and hold again for 5-20 seconds. If the feeling becomes painful, you are over stretching. Ease off a bit to a comfortable stretch. Stretching in this way reduces tension and you will notice increase flexibility. You will be rewarded later for your efforts on the amazing power days where you will be able to just keep skiing. Don’t forget to keep up your stretching after skiing too.
Along with stretching one of my favorite ways to condition my muscles for the slopes is hiking. I’m lucky to live walking distance to many great trail heads which gives me a vertical climb that gets the cardio going and strengthen the legs. Hiking at altitude similar to your favorite resort (Canyons’ altitude ranges from 6,600’ at base to 9,990’) also conditions the lungs and muscles. I also enjoy getting out and walking in the snowy weather. I feel the weather itself can start preparing our bodies for what is to come.
I also encourage activities like yoga as a way to develop better balance and agility. Being in balance can help our sliding movements in a way that allows us to be more efficient going down the hill. Balance alone is not going to be enough to getting you from top to bottom, but it’s a great start.
Another great way to improve your skills this season is to jump into a Canyons Ski & Snowboard School program. For more information on programs for adults and kids of all levels, visit: http://www.canyonsresort.com/ski_school.html.
P.S. Here’s to fitting into last seasons gear!