As the rain clouds part the sweet sight of fresh snow dusting the mountaintops beckons us to pull out the ski gear and get our bodies ready for the demands of a day on the slopes. It is that time of year when spending a little time acknowledging the unique demands of skiing pays off.
Our bodies gain familiarity with whatever movements we habitually do and as you make the transition from riding your bike to skiing. Muscles and their recruitment patterns need re-evaluating and perhaps rebalancing so you can avoid those inconvenient, early-season aches and pains and get a fuller day on the slopes sooner.
Much like walking, skiing requires us to efficiently transfer load from one leg to the other and to do that, we need to have the necessary stability and mobility in the pelvis, rotation through the spine, the ability to transfer load efficiently from your feet to hips and a fluid and dynamic upper body.
When we are excessively tight in our spines, lacking balance in the muscles from the legs to pelvis and lacking proprioceptive awareness of our feet in space, we will inevitably be less agile on the slopes and our bodies will compensate through the day, resulting in discomfort.
There are many things you can do to develop strength and mobility.
Here are a few suggestions:
Position yourself lying on your back comfortably with knees bent and feet on the ground. Use a blanket under your hips if your back is not comfortable and support your legs with a strap around thighs and block or blanket between thighs if you feel your legs are holding on. Take a few minutes here before moving and breathe easy.
• Use either a folded towel or pool noodle and place it on your spine from just above mid back all the way past your head. You can be here for up to 10 minutes, allowing your spine to relax over the support.
• Take out a towel and other props and begin to release one leg out toward the floor and bring it in three times slower. If you have limited mobility, your pelvis will want to move with your leg bone. Do less and only move when your upper body stays relaxed, your breath stays easy and the pelvis does not want to shift. Start with four to six reps and progress to 12. Do both sides.
• Feel into the ball, centre of heel and base of the pinky toe on each foot equally. As you press into your feet, keep your spine completely relaxed. Can you feel the connection from foot to knee to pelvis? Notice whether your spine tilts or tucks and do less until you can unwind that pattern.
• Now start to march with small enough steps that your breath stays easy and spine is relaxed.
Amie Taylor is a Certified Yoga Therapist and mentors yoga teachers internationally. She practices locally out of Reach Physiotherapy in Squamish. For more information visit her Facebook page “Truth in Movement” or reachphysio.com