Getting Your Body Ready for Winter Sports
Velocity Sports Performance shares the secrets of the Olympians with the rest of us.
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By Marco Ferdinandi
December 5, 2005
There is no better way to beat the winter blues than to get out there and stay active. Escaping the New York City for a weekend to enjoy nature will keep you excited about life during the darker months.
Winter sports enthusiasts have more choices today than ever before. Do I ride or ski? Telemark or Parabolic? Freestyle or Slalom? Mountain sports offer something for everyone. One thing is certain, how you train off the mountain is as important to your enjoyment and staying injury free as the equipment you use and the conditions you ski in.
A good ski & board sports conditioning program is about more than time spent on a treadmill or lifting weights. These sports require high levels of endurance strength, power, stability and mobility along with the athletic prowess of agility (changing directions, start and stop) and quickness (reaction time). General fitness programs do not prepare the winter sports athlete, recreational or competitive, enough to enhance performance and prevent common injuries. The most common injuries in skiing affect the knee, while board sports enthusiasts often suffer from ankle and wrist injuries. No studies to date show the relationship between injury rates and fatigue, especially in recreational athletes. However, many performance coaches believe a proper training program can reduce injuries from falls with improved performance in the later and longer runs.
So what exactly should be included in a performance program? Ideally, athletes will begin their advanced preparation at least 6 months prior to their ski season, building a strength and endurance base. The following sample workout is designed for the recreational athlete looking to train 2 to 3 times per week when getting close to or in season. (Editor’s Note: Just in case anyone is feeling litigious, athletes should check with their doctor before beginning any exercise routine.)
Active Dynamic Warm-up (15-30 mins.)
These are movements that will get the body warm, activate muscles, teach athletic skill and increase your mobility and stability. Skipping rope is an excellent starter for developing reaction time and the strength you’ll need in the legs. Keep your toes up so you land on the balls of the feet. This allows you to use your foot like a springboard. Follow the jump rope with some general mobility and movement drills. This can include arm circles (palms up), neck clocks (12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions), and movements such as skipping and walking active stretches.
Movement Skills and Energy Systems (20 - 30 mins)
Change of direction and lateral movement drills will help you negotiate the terrain on the slopes while improving your cardiovascular conditioning. Ladders, cones, hurdles and free movement all incorporate speed, agility, quickness and power and elevate the heart rate much like high intensity intervals. One of our favorite drills is a micro-hurdle jump. Set up six micro-hurdles (6 inches) in a row and complete this series: jump in place over a mini- hurdle, jump forward without arm movement, jump forward with arms, jump lateral without arms and jump lateral with arms.
Strength and Power (20 – 30 mins.)
Strength and power include whole body power, upper and lower body strength, stability/balance and core strength. Core strength is essential for snow sports. Start with Core bridges and Side bridges and progress to Russian twists seated on the floor with a medicine ball. Balance can be improved with single leg exercises and various balance tools. Follow a smart progression, two feet to one foot to two feet unstable to one foot unstable.
Our athletes will get into the Olympic lifts, the Clean, Jerk and Snatch, followed by a complete resistance program, but these should be completed only with a professional coach. A basic resistance program should include Squats, Lunges, Presses and Rows.
Marco Ferdinandi, MS, CSCS, is the Sports Performance Director for Velocity Sports Performance in Manhattan, NY. Velocity Sports helps athletes of all ages and ability levels to excel in sports and improve their athleticism. To contact Marco please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-593-3278.