Ski Specific Stretching
Generally I would recommend a postural assessment to find out your long muscles and find out your short muscles before starting a ski fitness training programme. If you think of your body as a bicycle wheel, the aim is to make sure the spokes are all the right length: not too short or too long, creating the perfect alignment for a smooth ride. This is why a general stretching programme that is not tailored to your unique needs is not a good idea, as you might be stretching muscles that are already too long and weak.
‘balance the wheel’
However, leading British ski instructor Warren Smith identifies the calves and internal hip rotators as key muscles that are very important for progressing in skiing ability. These, I know, are two muscles that are often tight in people. Here are a few ideas to help:
- Foam Roller self-massage (myofascial release) – 1 minute on each
- Squat Stretch – hold 1-2 mins
- Calf raises on a bench – hold for stretch with straight and bent knee, move up and down 10-20 times for strength/mobilisations
Internal Hip Rotators
- Pigeon foot (turned in) hip swings (with loose arms) x20
- Foam Roller / tennis ball – Piriformis – 1 min
- 90/90 Stretch – 20 secs hold increase pressure after 10 secs
- Seated hip pumps (toe dorsiflexion to other knee) mobilisations – 1 x 20-40
- Side leg lifts with FR in thighs (stabilise/strength) 2 x 15
Mobilisations are generally better than static stretches as the body tends to ‘do everything’ to NOT let a muscles be pulled slowly out of position. If you are going to do static stretching, do it when the muscle is really warm and for over 20 seconds. Muscles are warmer in the afternoon, after baths or training.
Stretching is NOT directly related to Injury
You do not stretch to avoid pulling muscles. Stretching should be used to re-balance your posture. An optimal posture will ensure the body’s joints move around the ‘optimal axis of rotation’, enabling optimal performance and reducing the chance of injury. ‘Pulled’ muscles are a result of poor alignment. With this in mind you do not want to static stretch before a sport/activity because it will not reduce the chance of injury but it will reduce performance. When you static stretch you take ‘tone’ out the muscle which ‘puts the muscle to sleep’. However, you do want to warm-up muscles through dynamic (moving) stretching to pumps blood into the muscles as per the warm-up/mobilisations in this programme.
- puts muscles to sleep
- do not use before a sport/activity
- use in rehabilitation where you want to put an over active ‘to sleep’ before the exercise
- use after sport/activity
Dynamic Stretching / Mobilisations:
- prepares body for sport/activity by pumping blood to muscles
- use before sport/activity
- can also be used anytime to aid recovery