Warming Up for Your Day on the Hill


Warm ups to help prevent snowboard injuries


Matt Fisher, Strength & Conditioning Coach at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, was invited to work with the Canadian National snowboard team to help prepare athletes to compete in a new Olympic event making its debut in Sochi – slopestyle snowboarding. He’s been working with the slopestyle athletes for the past three years, and with the half-pipe team for about six months.

Snow Sports Canada spoke to Matt about the strength and conditioning program that the national team does during the competition season, in order to provide tips to all recreational snowboarders, regardless of their age or experience.

 Do you do different exercises and stretches with the team members during competition season vs. in the off-season?

MF: Absolutely. During the competition season, we move from general physical preparation to specific physical prep.  I have the snowboarders do exercises that more closely resemble movements they’d be doing on snow. Instead of squats for example, we might be doing things that replicate a jumping or spinning motion. We also spend a lot more time on recovery – stretching, rolling, and cool downs. We want to make sure they’re fresh to get back on the snow for their next training session or race, and not stiff or sore or hurt from last time out.

What injuries do you see the most often in snowboarders, and what exercises can be done to prevent them?

MF: Lower back and knee injuries often result from poor flexibility, a weak core and weak glutes. So we spend a lot of time working on those muscle groups. Shoulder injuries are also common, especially to the rotator cuff area, which is actually comprised of four different muscles. We can prevent these by strengthening the stabilizing muscles around the shoulders.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d pass on to recreational riders?

MF: Do a proper warm-up. People will drive to mountain, hop on the chair and go straight to their first run without so much as a single leg swing or arm swing to warm up. It’s the most important thing we tell our national team athletes too: particularly in cold weather, you’ve got to make sure your muscles and joints are warmed up.

Snowboarding and skiing are extremely tough on the body. We don’t think of that because these sports are a lot of fun as we do them as recreation, but in fact they require a lot of strength and endurance. Many of the injuries we see could be avoided with proper warm-ups and stretches.

I like dynamic warm ups the best, because they enable you to increase your muscle temperature and range of motion gradually before you exercise. You shouldn’t be holding a static stretch for too long before you’re warm.

Check out these videos for a warm-up routine that can be done on the snow as you set out for your day, to help minimize your risk of injury. Try to do them as close as possible to taking your first run. As little as two minutes of warm up can really help. (list videos embedded or provide links to Vimeo)

Exercise Sets Reps Video Link
Walking Lunge with Rotation 1 5 each way https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/47560105
Lateral Lunge 1 5 each side https://vimeo.com/album/2039515/video/59609067
Hamstring Grazes 1 10 each side https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/47558686
HitchHikers 1 20 seconds each way https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/67096671
Cat/Camel 1 12 https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/47484988
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift with Kick 1 8 to 10 each side https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/47533004
Scapular Push Up 1 10 https://vimeo.com/album/2039512/video/47529915