Dr. Alex's Tips on Tuning Your Body for the Slopes
By Grant Johnson
Winter is upon us in Ski Town USA® and shaping up is just as important as sharpening your edges. Skiing and snowboarding are demanding sports that place unique loads on our bodies. Now is the time to tune up your body and hit the slopes.
Studies have shown risk factors for ACL injury include strength imbalances, improper technique and gender. For instance, powerful quads and weak hamstrings predispose athletes to knee injury. Moreover, proper jumping and landing techniques can reduce the risk of injury. Did you know ACL tears are almost five times higher in female athletes? Thankfully, pre-season conditioning programs can help improve strength, restore balance and reduce injuries.
A winter sports conditioning program should include stretching, core strengthening, power and endurance.* Stretching, such as in yoga or Pilates, improves flexibility and circulation. The core is truly the center of power for your body. Strengthening exercises include abdominal, low back and gluteal exercises like crunches, bridges and scissors. Challenge yourself with Bosu® balls, wobble boards and one-legged exercises to focus on balance too. Exercises that focus on strengthening the entire leg (eg: squats, lunges, press) are more beneficial than those that isolate specific muscles. One of the most important injury-prevention strategies is to balance thigh and hamstring strengthening. Advanced plyometric exercises add power too. Lastly, keep up on your aerobic conditioning with cycling, running or low impact activity like swimming or elliptical machines.
Dr. Alex recommends working with a trainer, coach or therapist if you’re starting from scratch. Space your workouts throughout the week. Start slow and progress weekly, dedicating time for stretching, strength training, aerobics and, most importantly, rest! Exercise demonstrations and pearls can be found in the video below.
Skiing and snowboarding are safe and wholesome fun for the whole family. Don’t let an injury get in the way. Get out and enjoy the Steamboat weather and gear up for another awesome winter of Champagne powder®! I’ll see you out there.
*Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.
Dr. Alex is a Board Certified, Fellowship trained Orthopaedic Sports Medicine specialist and physician consultant to the U.S. Ski Team. He is a nationally recognized educator in knee arthroscopy and his interests include ACL surgery, cartilage, meniscus tears and injury prevention.
Alexander K. Meininger, MD
Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine
Steamboat Orthopaedic Associates, P.C.
940 Central Park Drive, Suite 190
970-879-4612 or 877-404-4612