Stretch out before hitting the hill
If you haven’t been serious about preseason ski conditioning, you might want to consider becoming fanatical about pre-skiing stretching. With less than optimal muscle strength and flexibility at the beginning of the season, the best insurance against an injury is to get your muscles and joints loosened up before requiring them to ski.The following stretches can be done at home or in your hotel room and in fact were adapted from a hotel guest room manual (source unnamed).Before you start, warm up for three-to-five minutes by running in place, doing jumping jacks, or by lying on your back and moving your legs in inverted bicycling formation.For each of the following stretches, stay relaxed and move steadily to the point where you feel a slight pull. Hold that position, but do not bounce, for a slow count of 10, then release and relax for the same count before switching to the other side.Shoulders, arms, sides
Stand tall, raise your right elbow up behind your head. With your left arm, reach above and over your head, place your left hand on the right elbow, and slowly bend to your left side as you pull with your left hand, then hold that position. Relax for a count of 10, then do the opposite side.Lower backLie on the floor, pull your knees up to your chest and hug them as you roll back toward your shoulders and hold that position.TorsoSit on the floor with your legs straight out in front, bend your right knee and place your right foot outside your left, extended knee. Rest your left elbow on your right knee, turn to the right, look behind you and hold that position. Then place your right elbow on your right knee, turn to the left, look behind you and hold. Relax for 10, then do the opposite side.
Hamstrings, lower back, hipsSit on the floor with your legs spread out in a “V” and pull your right foot up to your crotch. With your arms outstretched, bend and reach for your left foot, keeping your head upright, and hold that position. Then reach for your right foot and hold that position. Relax for 10, then do the opposite side.Inner ThighsIn a sitting position, pull the soles of both feet together and towards your crotch until you feel a slight pull in the groin area, then bend forward slowly, keeping your head upright, and hold that position.Upper back Roll up a towel. Sit on the floor, grasp the towel with one hand on each end and, bending your knees, place both feet in the middle. Slowly extend your legs while providing resistance with your arms until they are fully extended, then slowly pull your hands back toward your chest while you provide resistance with your feet and legs.
Thighs: Stand on your right foot and place your right hand on a stationary object to your side, for balance. With your left hand, pull your left foot up to the back of your left thigh. Slowly lean forward and hold that position. Relax for 10, then do the opposite side.Hips, buttocks, thighs, calves Stand up with your hands on your head and your feet about shoulder width apart. Lunge forward with your right foot and lower your body until your right knee just touches the floor. Without resting in this position, push back to the standing position. Do this 10 times. Relax for a count of 10, then do the opposite side 10 times.The warm-up plus all of these stretches will only take about 15 minutes out of the beginning of your ski day. But for your muscles and joints, they may be the most important 15 minutes of the whole ski day.Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.Vail, Colorado