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Getting Fit for Skiing

The skiing season is almost upon us and thousands of British people will go to the mountains and do hard exercise they are not used to. For a few this will be a difficult experience, with injuries and medical care. For many it will be sore muscles and painful joints which dominate the time on the snow.

Muscle and joints strains don’t have to part of your skiing holiday if you do some simple preparation. Many people forget that skiing is a very physically demanding activity and most of us are just not prepared for the levels of activity we want to perform.

The fitter you are the better your performance in a hilly environment and it makes your skiing holiday safer. It’s hard to fit in exercise time to a busy schedule but you can do it cheaply and quickly with 45 minutes and just your running gear.

If you do any running on soft ground such as grass or parkland it will reduce the wear stress on your joints and it’s more fun than pavements and roads. Having a friend workout with you is also more fun and makes it more likely you will keep to your programme. If the weather is bad you can use a stationary bike or a treadmill at home or in the gym.

   1. A slow jog for five minutes is a good warm-up. Including dynamic activities during the jog helps with coordination, balance and agility. You can warm up your shoulders and hips by adding knee lifts, running backwards and sideways, skipping and arm circling.

   2. Run for about 20 minutes for aerobic fitness. Keep your heart rate between 65 and 75% of your maximum for best fitness effect. Alternate the sets of the next two exercises

   3. Half squats occur a lot in skiing, and works the thigh muscles both concentrically (muscle shortening) and eccentrically (muscle lengthening), which is important. Strengthening the quadriceps maintains knee stability and control during dynamic manoeuvres on the piste. 2 sets of 10 repetitions and work up to 3 sets of 20 repetitions or more, going steadily to start with. When you have good control you can drop down into a squat faster and then to using just one leg.

   4. Lunges make the hips more flexible and strengthen the hip extensor muscles. They also improve balance, reactions and coordination. Stand with your legs astride in front and behind you. Keep your head up and your back straight. Lunge forward and down, allowing the rear knee to bend towards the ground. Only allow your front knee to bent up to 45 degrees from straight to start with, allowing deeper and deeper movements as you get stronger and more confident. It’s good to start with two sets of 10 reps as this is a strenuous exercise and your muscles will not be accustomed to such stresses. Gradually build up until you can do 20-30 reps a set without problems, which you should take steadily over a month or so.

   5. The Cool Down Workout

After the lunges and the squats you can go back to jogging until you get to 30-45 minutes, and then as you are walking to cool down incorporate general muscle exercises such as two or three sets of:

          * Reverse crunches (abdominal and core strength)
          * Calf raises (lower leg strength)
          * Push ups against a surface or on the ground if you are strong enough (shoulders, chest)
          * Bridging (buttocks, thighs, core)

You can change round the aerobic and other exercises as long as you do a general workout for the muscles along with fitness work. It should all fit into 45-50 minutes.

You should always check with a healthcare professional before beginning an exercise programme. Consult the appropriate professional if you have any medical or training problems which may need advice and treatment. All matters pertaining to your health require medical supervision. The authors and publisher and The Physiotherapy Site specifically disclaim any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this article.

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