Get fit before you hit the slopes

  • Sharon Wootton / Outbound Columnist
  • Friday, November 10, 2000 9:00pm
  • Life

It happened again, didn’t it?

Ski and snowboarding season is just around the bend but you’ve been too busy to get those muscles in shape.

Don’t put it off another day. Move those muscles with an injury-free season in mind. There’s still time to minimize the damage before heading downhill.

Many books and videos can give you directions for activity-specific exercises. Actually doing them is another matter.

Sometimes company helps. Check out parks and recreation programs, YMCAs, and outdoor-sports-related stores for fitness classes.

My favorite book is "Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness" (Mountaineers) by David Musnick and Mark Pierce, complete with sport-specific exercises and long-term fitness programs that you can use before the snow season of 2001-2002.

Chose exercises that fit into the following areas:

  • Aerobics. Builds up stamina and overall conditioning. Jog, bike, jump rope or swim 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week to increase your heartbeat.

    Jog up stairs. Do 30 minutes of step aerobics or use a stair-climber.

  • Flexibility. Stretch, stretch, stretch to prevent injuries and increase mobility.

    Stretching exercises should be static, holding a position without bouncing. Skiers need to stretch upper leg muscles and calves, emphasizing the hamstrings (notorious for being too tight), lower back muscles and buttock muscles.

    Watching television is a great time to exercise. Pay attention to your ankles.

    Remember, you need to bend your knees at least into a half squat and to extend your hips.

  • Strength. On your aerobic off-days, do strength exercises. Three days a week is enough. Work towards a program of three series of 10 repetitions.

    Temporary exhaustion (not injury) in the worked muscles is the goal. Strong legs are important. Leg muscles can be developed through weight-training.

    Torso strength is a key component to do downhill and boarding.

  • Agility and balance. Snow riders need more than strength. They need coordination and agility.

    Develop quick lateral movements by running on rough ground, zipping through an obstacle course in the back yard, or playing racquetball or handball to practice those lateral moves. Walk a narrow log.

  • Mental. Yes, mental exercises are helpful, too. Learn to relax to loosen tension-induced tight muscles. Meditation books offer many tips. Visualize yourself on a slope, seeing each move on your way down.

    Start now and maybe the muscle price won’t be so high.

    You can pay now, or pay later.

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