Spring ski conditioning: Re-program your brain-body connections
Editor’s note: This is the first part in a two-part series about exercises to maintain your strength and power through the spring ski and snowboard season.
To properly execute your powder turns or improve your agility on the bumps, you might need to retrain your brain.
“As adults, we’ve all developed muscle imbalances that cause some muscles to be tighter than others, and as a consequence, we compensate by using any muscle we do know how to activate,” said Marika Page, fitness and facility coordinator at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.
For example, she said, many people, both men and women, use their quadriceps instead of their glutes for any squatting motion.
“Over time, the quads get overused or overtight and start exerting forces on the surrounding joints that can cause hip, knee or back pain,” Page said. “We then start making other compensations to relieve the hip, knee or back pain, and pretty soon the muscles are firing out of sequence and we are just ‘getting by’ instead of maximizing our efforts.”
Page shared a handful of exercises that can help re-program our brain-body connections. The focus should be on using core muscles, she said, which means everything between your shoulders and your knees, not just your abs.
“These exercises, ideally, will train the muscles to fire in the order they were designed to fire,” she said. “With repeated practice of these sequences, the neural connections between your brain — telling the muscles to fire — and your muscles — actually doing the firing — become stronger, more natural and more ‘automatic.’”