Avant Ski: Easy Warm-ups for All Skiers
Everyone knows how to après-ski, relaxing by the fire after a long day on the slopes, hot cocoa (or hot toddy) in hand, but few of us take the time to properly avant-ski. Just like any athletic event, skiing requires a specific warm-up to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury on the mountain. Two-time Olympian skier and personal trainer Jillian Vogtli, has some advice about how to to prepare our bodies for ski success.
"The importance of warming up before skiing cannot be emphasized enough," says Vogtli, who after 13 years on the U.S. Ski Team, now helps locals as a personal trainer at the Park City Municipal Athletic Recreation Center. According to Vogtli, the best way to warm-up before skiing is a 10-minute jog (without ski boots) followed by a few minutes of active stretches.
Although it only takes a few minutes, the physiological benefits of a gradual warm-up are huge. raising the body’s core temperature before intense exercise, you activate your metabolism, improve joint mobility and boost muscle reaction time, she explained.
"Research shows that warming up to ski, rather than skiing to warm-up can give an increase in elastic properties of the muscle by as much as 15-20 percent," improving performance and preventing muscle strains says Vogtli. The next time you pull up to a packed resort parking lot, be glad. A good, long hike to the base, while carrying your equipment is a perfect pre-ski warm-up.
Once you’re warm, there are a few exercises Vogtli suggests to further prepare the body for the demands of skiing. Try a few hip swings while stabilizing yourself with a ski pole to lubricate the hip joint and stretch your hamstrings. Arm circles and torso twists will keep your upper-body loose while skiing, too.
‘Tis the season for long lift lines, but that doesn’t mean your muscles have to get cold while you wait. Generate heat with some narrow stance squats and front lunges. Big arm swings are a great way loosen stiff shoulders and keep your fingers from going numb in line.
Even the chairlift gives skiers an opportunity to warm-up. As you sit, try to swing your legs, slightly pausing near the top of the swing to strengthen the quadriceps. The chairlift is a great time to focus on posture too. "In today’s world, so much of our days are spent bent over, (driving, texting, typing, picking up children, etc…)" says Vogtli. Focus on engaging the core, sitting upright with your belly-button pulled inward. It’s amazing how much heat you can generate simply by activating your back and abdominals while seated.
When it comes to ski injuries, knees are the biggest casualties. Vogtli attributes knee instability to our "quadriceps being four-times stronger than our hamstrings." After undergoing seven knee surgeries during her ski career, she stresses the importance of strengthening the hips, hamstrings, glutes and core before the ski season even begins. Many people wait until the season to "ski themselves into shape." As a fitness coach and Olympic athlete, those words make Vogtli "cringe."
Finally, after a full day of fitness and snowy fun, enjoy a nice stretch, focusing on the lower back and legs. Why not try some gentle fireside yoga to unwind your tired body? Or, simply cool down with a cold one, celebrating another wonderful, injury-free day in the mountains.
For more information about Jillian Vogtli’s wellness program, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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