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When skiing season comes around, a lot of us are a bit out of shape. While we might have been keeping fit with other stuff, we might not have been making great use of our skiing and snowboarding muscles.
Not being in shape can result in an increased risk of injury to your knees and hips, and an increased risk of back pain. It can also increase the risk of an accident by compromising your form and control. Because of this, you need to specifically strengthen your muscles before you get back on the mountain, especially developing leg and core strength. Here are some exercises you can do at home with no equipment to help you get strong for the slopes.
To do good squats, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, then bend at the knees, pushing your butt and hips backward. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground. Then stand back up. 20 reps are good for most people, but you should be able to push it further as you regain fitness. Or you can make squats more challenging by holding your arms above your head or placing your hands behind your head (prisoner squats) to emphasize your core.
Squats strengthen your glutes and relax your hip flexors, as well as giving you a stronger leg.
Stand with your feet close together then step forward with one foot until that thigh is nearly parallel to the ground. Alternate legs. Do not let your knee travel past your toe as that can overextend tendons in the knee and result in pain. Do ten reps on each side to start with. To make lunges harder on your core, raise your arms above your head. You can also do reverse lunges, where you step backwards instead. Try to do lunges on a mat or soft surface so that you are comfortable if your back knee touches the ground.
Lunges stabilize the muscles around your knee joint, reducing your risk of a knee injury.
This exercise is deceptively hard. Find an empty wall, then squat down so your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your back and the back of your head in contact with the wall. Rest your hands on your thighs or, for more core strength, hold your arms out in front of you. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then stand up. Repeat three times. This exercise is really good for leg strengthening and will give you a solid burn. Another challenge is to lift each knee slightly alternately, so your foot is slightly off the ground. This strengthens the muscles on the front of your thigh.
When starting out with this exercise, position a chair nearby to help support yourself when you stand back up.
The classic plank remains one of the best exercises for core strength. Lie on an exercise mat with your stomach down, then go into a push up position and hold for twenty to thirty seconds for three sets. Start by resting on your forearms, then when that becomes easy, put your hands down and straighten your arms. Make sure that your body is completely flat.
For increased challenge, upgrade to mountain climbers. While in a plank position on your hands, alternately draw your knees towards your chest.
With all of these exercises, don’t push it if you start to experience sharp pain rather than burning, especially if you know you are out of shape. Physical therapy can help if you are really out of shape or recovering from an injury.