With the Holidays come and gone, many might be staring down an upcoming ski vacation or season and realize they've been so busy in the office and with other life obligations that they're not feeling particularly ready physically to be on the mountain. No problem, I'm going to offer suggestions below so that we can tackle this dilemma together to help ensure that we all have a great ski season.
Below I will outline some exercises that will help you to find your way to a safer time on the mountain. These exercises can be done in your office, as they will not require the use of equipment beyond an office chair, a pair of socks and a couple of washcloths/hand towels with a mat being optional. I suggest choosing four of the exercises daily and doing them while taking a break, while brainstorming, or before lunch.
With our lifestyles today often consisting of more than our fair share of time spent on our derrieres: driving, working, studying and eating, we as a society are becoming undeveloped in the strength and balance& department. In my years as a World Cup and Olympic Skier and also as a Wellness Coach, I have found several things in common.
1. Lower range strength is lacking. Meaning (often times) anything below the level of the chair is a never-go zone. In the long run, what this means is that when we fall down, we will have a hard time standing back up. This is then magnified when we have slippery sticks called skis or a snowboard on our feet
2. Balance needs more attention
3. Core strength and stability is lacking. By the core, I am referring to the abdominals, obliques, intercostals as well as back muscles
4. Our posture could use some attention as we tend to hunch forward throughout much of our day
So kick off your dress shoes, grab your office chair and let's tackle the above with the suggestions below:
Plank: (Can be done with or without a chair) Start by assuming a prone (I know what she's saying but not sure what a prone position is) position with your elbows located under your shoulders. Flex your quads, raise your knees off of the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and tighten and retract your abs. With your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles, rest your weight on your hands (in front of shoulders) or forearms (forearms parallel to your spine and elbows directly under the shoulders). Hold for 30 - 90 seconds for three sets while maintaining a flat lower back to protect your spine.
*Advanced option: Alternate leg lifts.
Side Plank With Hip Drop
Side Plank With Hip Drop: Take the elbow plank position to your side and stack your hips and shoulders. Engage your core and lift while maintaining straight spinal alignment horizontally and vertically. Hold a side plank for 30-60 seconds. Three sets of 10-15 per side.
Tricep Dips: Position your hands (facing forward) shoulder width apart on either the floor or your chair. Keep your shoulders open and move your buttocks close to the chair with your arms straight. Either keep your feet extended out or bent and bend your elbows as straight back as you can and aim for a 90 degree angle. Three sets of 12-20 repetitions.
Hamstring Curls (with or without the chair): Begin on the floor laying on your back with your feet on the chair or on the ground (not pictured). Bend your knees to roughly at a 90 degree angle and then raise your hips while contracting your hamstrings, keeping your weight on your heels and shoulder blades. After a brief pause, return to the starting position. Three sets of 10-15 per leg.
*For a more advanced option raise one leg and keep it parallel to the opposite knee.
Swiss Ball Jackknives and/or Pikes
Swiss Ball Jackknives and/or Pikes: Begin in a plank position on your chair. (See description for plank above). For the Jackknife, start with the chair under your toes and pull the chair while bending you knees as much as possible and while keeping your core engaged. Roll the chair back out to the starting position by extending your legs in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat three sets for 10-20 repetitions.
Should you choose to do the pike, start in the same position as the jackknife but instead of pulling your knees in to your chest, bend at your hips and lift tall through the your torso while raising you buttocks high to the sky. When done properly it will feel like someone is lifting your hips to the ceiling. Return in a controlled manner back to the start position and repeat. Three sets for 8-15 repetitions.
As you can see, there is plenty that can be done with little to no equipment to prepare for an injury free season. Add these exercises into your current workout routine, or if you haven't been working out, start with the modifications of the exercises above. Honor where you are at and build from there. Aim to do the suggested exercises three to four times a week along with two to three additional days of cardio and stretching and you'll be glad you did. Just get started.
Looking forward to seeing you on the slopes of Solitude!