Although often over-looked, warming up and warming down before and after skiing is essential. By warming up and warming down you actively reduce muscle fatigue and prevent straining, pulling and cramping the muscles. Below are a few static stretches to help loosen up before the slopes making sure they are nice and warm before you bombard your thighs!
Best to do these stretches inside, to save yourself rolling around in the snow if you loose balance.
First of all lets start from the toes up.
As the image shows, move your foot and ankle in a circular motion, creating as much movement as possible. This exercise can be completed standing up or sitting down.
Next calf stretches
This is your basic calf stretch. With you hands against a wall, place one foot in front of the other and try to push down on your back foot. You should feel a pull on your back leg. If you what a bigger stretch put your back leg further back. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds then repeat with the other leg.
Next thigh stretches
This stretch is probably your most important one as a skier. From personal experience your thighs will start to ache before other muscles. As the image shows, grab your ankle from behind you and bring it up towards your bottom. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then release. For those who want to add to the stretch, after releasing your leg, (without putting your leg on the ground) lift you leg out in front of you and try and hold your knee to your chest. Hold this for 30 seconds then release. This stretch is brilliant for working on your balance.
Often considerably weaker than their thigh counterparts, hamstrings are a crucial muscle that needs stretching. As the image suggests place one foot in front of the other with your back leg bent. Rock your weight onto your back leg so that your front leg is straight and you can start to feel a stretch in your hamstring region. Lean over your body and rest your hands on your legs. Try to look up at all times. To enhance the stretch, point your toe upwards and reach down towards your toe. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch.
Although overlooked by many, back stretches are crucial to heightening flexibility and prevent injuries. My favourite back stretch is a variation of the cobra yoga position. As the image shows, start by lying on your front. Relaxing your lower body, arch your back upwards, supporting yourself with your hands. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
Another stretch that works well with the previous is the child’s pose. As the image shows, kneel down so that your bottom is resting on your feet. Relax your body and stretch out your arms in front of you. Both these stretches are excellent for stretching that problematic lower back region.