10 things you should consider to become Ski Fit
· Cardiovascular Fitness (CV)
Hermann Myer, legendary ski champion spent 10 times as many hours on the bike as he did skiing! We needn’t be Olympic champions but aerobic conditioning in the form of cycling will compliment ski specific fitness and help prepare you for the altitude and demands of skiing. Make sure you start 4-6 months pre skiing so the body can adapt in good time.
The word Endurance is a little generalised, we are talking muscular endurance and a little bit of stamina. Going from months of desk based work or reduced activity to skiing 3-6 hours per day demands a certain amount of endurance and stamina. Those who have more muscular endurance are going to last longer and be less likely to injure themselves come the final hour, greater fatigue leads to increased injury risk.
· Balance & Prorioception
Its no surprise these two factors play a role in skiing. Skiing seems so unnatural and requires vast amounts of balance and body awareness. Previous injury to joints leads to decreased amounts of proprioception (joint awareness). Being strapped to two panks of wood (effectively, or one if your a snow boarder!) whilst hurtling down a mountian side at super fast speeds demands a particular amount of ‘body control’!! These two skills can be trained and improved upon!
· Core Strength
The Buzz word of the moment, the ‘zeitgeist’! I prefer to think of this as an amalgamation of things, think functional control, the natural way your body moves but with correct distribution of forces, transfering the power of your movement through your body effectively, using your core, centre of gravity, not just bypassing it!! It’s not just a plank.......
This seems so simple but is sooo much more interesting. You ever noticed some of us are just born stiff!!? Others are like flimsy loose rafts? The degree of joint movement can be linked to the amount of muscle range of movement and vice versa. How do you figure that one out?! Is too much movement good, not enough movement bad? Depends on the individual and what your trying to achieve; lets look into it together!
Power is not just strength, its a combination of speed and strength over time. You dont start working for Power until you have done general strength training first. Ultimately the benefits transfer to skiing, fatigue resistance, powerful thighs, you know the feeling after a long fast downhill or demanding black run, perhaps deep powder traverses or a set of moguls; Power is the icing on the cake!
Plyometrics links to Power, they share a symbiotic relationship. With plyometrics you must be careful as the risk of injury is increased. You don’t start plyometric exercises until you prove you are ready. Elements of strength/power/balance/control are all required. The gains are vast, agility and strength as the exercises are explosive. Exercises can be made to mimic the specifics of the sport, specificity!
· Observational awareness
10% of all skiing injuries are collisions, usually with other skiers. When the slopes are busy its often difficult to be fully aware of those around you. Add travelling at speed, poor visibility, difficult conditions terrain/weather, fatigue, fear, navigation etc etc Having awareness of whats going on around you and being able to adapt to that can be the difference. There are various ways to train for this from high tech visual equipment to basic hand eye coordination skills.
· Kinesthetic awareness
Defined as ‘sensitivity to the moment of your body through space that contributes to your ability to balance and move rhythmically and fluidly. It is sometimes developed as a self-awareness’. Ooh so many aspects for consideration, relates nicely to observational awareness. How do you train this? Well in essence you train it through everything you do, your encouraging the neuromuscular pathways with all your exercises, we just need to be reinforcing this kinesthetic awareness, to be mentally in tune with it; its like a skill, we train it!
As opposed to asymmetry; this implies having alignment, good distribution between limbs. Equal limb strength, equal limb range of movement, equal limb length (as much as we can control this) equal limb control. The more symmentry we have the less likely we are to sustain injury. We will perform better and more efficiently which in turn will enhance everything we have already mentioned, symmetry contributes everything!
By Phil Smith, Sports Therapist