Last February, while skiing with an instructor at Keystone, Colorado, we learned a set of on-snow warm up exercises. Here’s what we were told: “First thing in the morning, our muscles as not as pliable as they are at the end of the day. These exercises wake up the muscles and get lactic acid out of them.”
That’s right. These exercises get us ready to ski and ride.
On-Snow Ski and Snowboard Warm Ups
These tips are good for anyone, of any age.
They can be done anywhere, although the preferred spot is at the top of the mountain, after your first lift ride of the day, immediately before you start skiing.
All of them are done without skis or snowboard. You can use ski poles for support if you desire.
So click out, and get moving.
1. Leg Swings
Stand up tall with your legs straight. Moving through the hip-joint, swing a straight leg forward at full extension. Then swing it backward. Keep it going back and forth until you feel the leg loosening up. Switch legs.
This exercise stretches the hamstrings, the quads and the calves.
2. Hip Swings
Standing tall, raise one leg so that the thigh is parallel to the ground, with your knee bent at 90° and facing forward. Maintaining the bend in your knee, rotate the knee 90° to the outside. Set the heel down.
Reverse the motion, moving your leg up, rotating it forward and then setting your foot down in your starting position. Do this with one leg until it feels more limber. Then switch legs.
Hip Swings stretch the hip flexor and you should feel it where your hip-joint meets your pelvis.
Here’s a video that demonstrates Hip Swings and Knee Raises.
3. Knee Raises
Knee Raises warm up your core on days when you will be more aggressive, say, skiing trees or moguls.
Stand up tall. Bring the left shoulder down and the right knee up, crunching the core. Return to standing up tall. Bring the right shoulder down and the left knee up, crunching the core.
Do this 10-15 times per leg and shoulder.
4. Toe Touches
If you’re mostly skiing groomers, try Toe Touches to get your core engaged.
Standing tall, raise your hands high over your head. Bend at the waist and touch both toes. Rise up halfway, then touch the left toe with both hands to engage the left oblique.
Rise halfway again, and then touch the right toe with both hands to engage the right oblique.
Return to the starting position with both hands straight above the head.
Repeat until your core feels warmed up.
5. Mid and Lower Back Stretches
Stand up tall. Keep the head facing forward and rotate the shoulders to the left. Then rotate them to the right.
Repeat, keeping the head facing forward, until you feel your back loosening up.
6. Arm Circles
Stand tall with your arms outstretched to the sides. Make little circles going forward. Then make big circles going forward. Reverse and make little circles going backward and big circles going backward.
While this may sound like a lot of exercises, the whole sequence shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.
When you’re done, you should have generated some heat and literally feel warmed up. Your muscles should feel loose and pliable.
Now, you’re ready to ski!
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