If you’ve been following along with our blog, you’ve probably already seen our tips for staying in shape in the off season and preseason core exercises to get you fit for skiing, but now we’re in full swing for ski season. And if you didn’t take our advice on staying in shape or shaping up before the big powder dumps, that’s okay. You’re not alone! We all forget to do our exercises sometimes. But the truth is, even just a couple of quick warm exercises or stretches before a long day on skis or a snowboard makes a big difference. It can stop you from being sore for days after your big outing, get your blood flowing and keep out the cold on chilly mornings, and most importantly help you avoid injuries like sprains and pulling a muscle.
Sometimes you’re in a rush when you’re on the way to the hill. Maybe you’re the type that wants to get the first chair, or first tracks. Maybe you overslept from a few too many drinks from the night before. Maybe you’ve got a couple of rug rats running around that you’re trying to wrestle into a snowsuit, gloves, boots, and a hat that they’re incessantly trying take off. Either way, you may not have the extra time before you head out to warm up and get some exercises and stretches in. So we’ve put a list together on some ways to warm up out on the hill, even in all your gear. Although you may want to invest in some stretch pants first.
Here’s an easy one we probably all remember from gym class, the toe touch. It’s pretty straight forward, just start standing straight up with your feet shoulder width apart. Then slowly and deliberately bend straight forward and reach your hands and arms out toward your feet. If you can’t touch your toes on the first try for this one, don’t push it too far. Just bend and reach as far are you’re comfortable with and hold it for at least 30 seconds. Do this three times until your back and hamstrings feel stretched out. It’s also important to remember not to bounce up and down when you do this, but rather stay still and just keeping reaching out a little further down each time.
Okay next let’s focus on the legs a bit. Hamstring stretches are similar to toe touches at first. Start with your feet a little less than shoulder width apart and standing straight up again. Next reach down to touch the outside of your ski or snowboard boot on your right side (or left first if you’re into that sort of thing) while keeping your legs as straight as you can. Hold for at least 30 seconds, and don’t bounce! Then switch sides and do the same thing on your left for 30 seconds. Repeat once more on both sides, reaching down farther each time.
Long time skiers and snowboarders know how important your core is for on snow fun. It’s why we dedicate so much time in the gym to core strength, it’s your base. So before a long day on the slope, let’s make sure your core is warmed up and stretched out. This warm up is another easy one, starting with you standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your head facing straight forward for the entirety of this stretch. Then twist your shoulders around to your right and pull until your feel the stretch in your core and back. Then slowly swing your shoulder around and pull them to your left side. Do this on both sides at least 5 times to loosen up your core and back.
Alright, now let’s move on to an arm warm up. This one may look a little silly, but it’s a great way to get your arms ready for a day of physical activity. Again, start standing with your feet roughly shoulder width apart and facing forward. Now spread your arms straight out to your sides keeping them about shoulder height. Then start moving your arms in small circles starting with your arms moving forward and keep your thumbs pointed down. Do this for about 30 seconds, then switch directions twirling your arms in a backwards movement. This time keep your thumbs pointed up towards the sky and do this for another 30 seconds. Next start moving your arms in a forward motion again, but this time instead of little circles, move them in big circles a little slower for 30 seconds. Then switch directions to do big circles going backwards for 30 seconds.
Knee Ups and Quad Stretch
This exercise is one of the only stretches on this list that may get a little tricky with ski boots, and maybe even snowboard boots. But it’s not impossible! So give it a try out on the hill, and if it gives you some difficulty, save it for an après ski warm down instead. First, start standing straight up and find your best spot for balance, as this stretch involves holding your position on one foot. Then pull one leg up and bring your knee into your chest. Wrap your hands around that knee and pull it into you, stretching out that hamstring. Hold this for 15 seconds, then swing that same leg around and pull the back of your boot to your butt, and hold your foot around the ankle or toe and pull it backwards until you feel a pull in your quads. Hold this for at least 15 seconds and then put your foot down and switch sides, repeating the same movements on your other side.
Now you’re all warmed up and ready to go! These warm ups shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, and can make a big difference in your ski or snowboard day. If you’re all revved up now and want to do more to be in shape for your snow season, check out our other blogs on how to get in shape, the first being with The North Face Mountain Athletics App, which will tailor a workout for your favorite sport with the help of a gym membership. If gyms aren’t really your thing, check out our blog on how to get in shape for skiing without a gym.