Snowsportscanada.ca recently sat down with Matt Fisher, Director of Long Term Athlete Development and Strength & Conditioning Specialist at Level 10 fitness, to get an inside look at what recreational skiers and snowboarders can do to prepare for next snow season.
1. Get An Assessment
A full assessment with a physiotherapist, athletic therapist or strength and conditioning coach is of the utmost importance for off season preparation, even if you don’t feel like you have an injury. Often times an athletic therapist or physiotherapist can pick up anatomical imbalances or biomechanical issues that might not affect you in the present, but may creep up on you in the future. Addressing these issues when you have time during the off season will save you a lot of frustration and missed days during the ski season. Be aware though, not all trainers and strength coaches are created equal, so do your homework on who you are going to see for an assessment.
2. Work On Flexibility and Mobility
Most of us are already too tight or stiff from our everyday lives due to sitting too much at the office, driving all day or slouching over for computer work . It is important to strengthen the body in a proper, full range of motion on a regular basis in order to ensure that you maintain your flexibility and prepare your body for the awkward motions that may arise during skiing. Ensuring that you do proper stretching and foam rolling will keep you limber and has the ability to prevent you from stiffening up even more once you start a strength training program.
3. Try Something Completely Different
While surfing in the sunshine is a lot different than skiing in a blizzard, try participating in activities that are completely different than your snow sport of choice. For example, feel free to indulge in recreational sports such as soccer, softball, or hiking, so that your body gets a rest and your mind avoids the monotony of the same old movement patterns year round.
4. Improve Neck Strength
While there isn’t a lot of available research to support this, one of the greatest risks in snow sports are head injuries and concussions. Strengthening the neck and surrounding muscle tissues can minimize the potential damage from a traumatic head or neck injury. While we’d like to avoid all injuries, head injuries are one’s to be taken most seriously and have the greatest long term implications. The best bet beyond wearing a proper sized helmet that fits well is to strengthen the neck.
5. Strengthen Your Glutes
The gluteals are a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Although glute strengthening is important for all athletes, the role that the glutes play (particularly the gluteus medius) in knee health is extremely important for snow sport athletes, as the knee is a joint that withstands a lot of tension throughout a day on the slopes. Most individuals have a weak gluteal group due to basic daily movement patterns. Strengthening the gluteal muscle group not only improves performance for skiers and snowboarders, but also ensures proper alignment of the hip, knee and ankle, therefore minimizing the risk of ACL, PCL, and MCL injuries during the season.
About Matt Fisher: Currently, Matt is the lead Strength and Conditioning coach for the Canadian National Slopestyle Team and works individually with several other national snow sport athletes, including Ski Cross athlete Dave Duncan and Half Pipe Skier Matt Margetts. Matt has had the opportunity to work with thousands of athletes over his 12 year career from the grassroots up to international and professional, including 9 Olympic teams and 3 Paralympic teams.