Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pilates & Skiing

The snow is falling! For all the skiing enthusiasts out there, now is the time to get ready for ski season so you can enjoy your winter sport from the first day on the slopes. When you think of what it takes for strong skiing you probably think of the large muscles of the legs, the quadriceps. Leg extension exercises, like squats and lunges are excellent strengtheners and big joint movers and should be included in your workout repertoire. However to really create power one must first have stability and balance.

The inner thighs (adductors), outer thighs (abductors) and external rotators of the femur must be strong and in balance to ensure their ability to maintain a functional leg position for good knee alignment and pelvic stability. While skiing, these muscles help bridge the energy and forces that move from the core through the pelvis and hip to the knee, ankle and into the ski, and back up from the ski through the knee, to the hip and pelvis. Weakness will result in extra stress and wear on knee ligaments. Also the deep abdominals and back muscles provide support and shock absorption for the spine against these same forces and to hold an upright posture against the dynamic movements of the lower body. Strong core and hips make for strong, balanced skiing!

Try adding these exercises into your preseason routine to prepare yourself for the slopes. Happy skiing!

Ski-Fit Exercises: 4 weeks, 3 x per week, 8-12 reps per exercise.

Cat Stretch: from 4 point kneeling in neutral spine, exhale to roll through spine from pelvis to head, then inhale to re-extend spine from head to pelvis. Repeat 4 x then switch the starting direction.

Opposite Hand and Leg Extension with Abdominal Curl: from 4 point kneeling in neutral spine, inhale to extend hand and opposite leg, then exhale and round spine (like cat) pulling knee to nose and elbow back beside hip. Inhale to extend and exhale to flex. Repeat 8 x then switch sides.

100’s: lying on back with knees at table top, Fitness Circle between thighs. Flex spine up on exhale and reach arms by hips, then inhale 5 counts, pulsing arms, and exhale 5 counts, squeezing FC with legs. 10 x.

Obliques: lying on back with hands behind head, legs at table top, Fitness Circle outside of thighs. Flex spine up on exhale and rotate trunk to bring shoulder to opposite knee while pressing out on FC. 10x R/L.

Side Leg Series: lying on side, legs extended, head resting on bottom arm, neutral spine core engaged.

  • Top Leg Lift: inhale point toes and lift top leg, exhale and flex foot, squeezing leg back down.
  • Top and Bottom: inhale and lift top leg, exhale and lift bottom leg to top leg, then lower together.
  • Top Leg Circles: inhale and lift top leg to hip height, then exhale and make 8 small controlled circles from hip in one direction, followed by 8 small controlled circles in opposite direction.
  • Bottom Leg Lift: bend top knee, rotate leg and place foot in front on mat. Exhale and lift bottom leg up from inner thigh. Inhale to lower, exhale to lift.
  • Calms: legs together and knees bent in front with feet in line with hips. Exhale to rotate top thigh up and back like opening a book or clam shell without rolling on pelvis.

Single Leg Bridging: lying on back with knees bent, feet on floor hip width apart, neutral spine. Inhale to lift one foot slightly off floor, then exhale and press into standing foot, engage buttock and lift hips to bridge position. Pelvis should come up level. Inhale to lower and exhale to lift 8-10x, then switch legs.

Plank: on elbows and knees with spine on long diagonal, or full plank on elbows and toes. Engage entire core and hold position without hips/low back sagging. Build up your time from 30 seconds to 2-3 minutes.