Judy Black BSc, BScPT, FCAMT, Gunn IMS practitioner
Most people only get to ski about 5-10 days per year. Because skiing tends not to offer the same opportunities for practice that other sports do, Dry Land Training for Skiing is something that should be part of your regular workout routine throughout the year. General leg quadriceps, gluteal, and calf strength are important foundations for this activity. Something else to consider are movements that are more sport specific, such as jumping side to side continuously simulating the movements involved in short to medium radius turns. Additionally, core strength and balance are integral to performing good short radius turns as well as moguls.
Some key components for Dry Land Training should include the following:
1. Controlling Leg Alignment: With parallel skiing we want to avoid our feet being wider apart than our knees. This is easier to control when doing controlled squats, but much more difficult when skiing as our legs swing from left to right. Start by doing a wall squat, get deep into your ski stance and ensure your knees align over your second toe, not inside your foot as this will alter your balance on your skis and prestress the inside of your knee. Try to make about 10 jumps from side to side in front of a mirror to watch the position of your legs during take off, in the air and on landing.
2. Work on your ability to keep your body weight forward (Flex Pattern) and comfortably over the balls of your feet. You will need to have the strength to push forward against the boot to achieve this. To make sure you have adequate mobility, you can test, and work on, the standing weight bearing stretch. For the right side place your foot flat; heel on the ground and big toe 2-4 inches away from the wall. Push forward keeping the heel down to ensure good mobility.
3. Core strength becomes a bigger issue when skiing moguls, in powder or skiing at higher speeds. When a skier lacks core strength in the trunk the pressure of speed or skiing in this terrain can tip the upper body forward suddenly causing the skier to lose their balance or impact on the face of the bump. On side to side jumps watch for too much forward bend through the trunk and hips.
4. Increasing Leg Power: More specific leg work is needed to build up strength and explosive power. Squats progressing from double to single-leg will help achieve this goal. Try to keep the lower shin bone vertical and do not flex the knees beyond 90 degrees simulating the skiing stance. The side to side jumping exercise can again be used to strengthen the legs. To eliminate help from the arms; keep the arms crossed in front of the body.
As with any sport, especially those that we are not able to do in all seasons, preparation goes a long way in terms of keeping you injury free and performing at your best.