SnowsBest Fitness Blogger GUILLAUME TUAL serves up five must do exercises to ensure maximum mobility on the slopes.
I was recently chatting with Manuela Berchtold, former Olympic Mogul Skier, about the importance of fitness preparation. Not only do you need to get your muscles used to the snow activity (skiing or snowboarding) but you also need to give your joints a healthy range of motion in order to function properly. A lot of us spend too much time sitting down and forget about moving (note: moving and exercising are two totally different concepts, but that’s for another article).
Joint mobilisation is a great way to free up your body mechanism. Think of it like greasing up a rusty gearing. If the ligaments and small muscles around a joint are tight, the bigger muscles that attach around it won’t be able to contract and relax efficiently as there is too much tension in their extremities.
Common examples are the hips and shoulders. Sitting for too long will make the head of your femur (the thigh bone) sticking to your hip capsule, which will limit the range of motion (ROM) of your quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors and abductors. The same goes for the shoulders when you spend too much time in front of a computer (frozen shoulder can be a nasty result from it).
So it’s important to warm up those joints, especially prior to start a physical activity or after a long period of stillness. Simple stretching does not teach your body how to handle movement so before you start your gym routine, you should do some dynamic warm-up (stretching the joint, not the muscles).
Here are 5 mobility drills that you can incorporate in your daily life or before your ski trip as they are designed to mobilise your ankles, knees, hips and spine.
We’ve posted a video below plus a step by step guide with images.
DEEP APE/OPEN APE TO CRAB REACH (5 times each side)
Good for: Spine flexion/extension/rotation, ankle dorsiflexion, knee flexion, hip flexion/extension, shoulder joint extension/rotation
- Start in a deep squat, feet flat on the ground. Reach your arms forward, back of the hands touching each other and fingers just off the floor. Your spine should be nicely stretched and rounded.
- Shift your weight onto your toes, driving your knees forward and sit up on your heels while opening your arms out to the side. Rotate your thumbs back and squeeze your shoulder blades as you exhale.
- Fall back onto your hands, fingers pointing away from your feet, hips off the floor.
- Place your right hand near your face, elbow to chest and drive your hips as high as you can, squeezing your glutes.
- Frame your head softly with your right arm while looking down at your left hand.
- Come back down to a Crab position and push off from your hands to a Deep Squat position then repeat.
LOADED BEAST TO FRONT STEP (5 times on each leg)
Good for: ankle dorsi/plantar flexion, knee flexion/extension, hip flexion/extension, hip-flexor and hamstring stretch
- Kneel down and sit on your heels, toes flexed. Extend your arms all the way forward and push off the ground to tuck your knees to your chest
- Breathe in and explode forward to replace your hand with your right foot. Bring your right hand by your face as you exhale.
- Return to loaded position and repeat with the other leg.
- Sink your hips towards the ground but don’t let your back knee touch the floor
SHIN SITS TO DEEP SQUAT (10 times)
Good for: ankle dorsi/plantar flexion, knee flexion, hip flexion/extension and external rotation
- Kneel down and sit on your heels, feet together and flat.
- Shift your weight forward so you can now flex your ankles and toes.
- Sit back onto your heels so you can pivot onto a deep squat position and try to have your heels on the floor while sitting as low as you can.
- Place your elbows inside your knees and push them out.
- Reverse the movement and repeat.
V-SIT TO 90/90 AND SHIN FOLD (8-10 times each side)
Good for: hip rotation, spine rotation, glute, hamstring and lats stretch.
- Sit with your legs open straight in front of you in a “V” shape. Make sure your torso stays straight up.
- Slowly rotate both legs to the right and start bending at the knees till you reach 90 degrees flexion. Don’t put your hands on the floor to move!
- Bring your chest to your knee or your shin and reach forward with your left arm. Go as low as you can. You should feel a stretch but no pain.
- Rotate your legs back to the centre and repeat to the other side.
SUPINE THORACIC ROTATION (5 times each side with 5sec tempo)
Good for: opening up the rib cage and rotating the thoracic spine.
- Lay on your right side in a foetus position, knees and hips bent at 90 degrees and your left arm on top of your right one.
- Keeping both knees on top of each other (they should be totally lined up), slowly take your left arm as far as you can to the left. Exhale and make sure your right shoulder stays on the floor and knees are lined up.
- Keep your eyes on your left hand so you can rotate your neck too.
- Inhale then slowly bring the left arm over the right one.
- Repeat and change side.
When to do them
These mobility drills are excellent prior to go hit the slopes but also at the end of the day after your feet have been locked into ski boots and you have maintained a semi squat position most of the time. If they feel good then you should also incorporate them into your daily routine. Also remember to stay hydrated as doing this routine will help push fluids throughout your whole body.
Check out more Fit2Ski articles, tips and videos on our Fit2Ski page.
Visit Guillaume Tual’s Altifit website.