As the weather changes and winter sets in, for some parents and caregivers, it’s a time to eagerly anticipate the start of the ski and snowboard season. There are a number of activities and fitness exercises which will help lower the risk of early injuries occurring, so read on and see if you are doing what you can to prepare your kids for a great season of skiing or snowboarding….
Skiing and snowboarding place high demands on the aerobic (cardiovascular) system and as the kids get stronger and faster, the anaerobic system kicks in, so energy and strength demands are greater. The other important fitness component is flexibility/ agility, which allows skiers and snowboarders to be more agile on the slopes. For beginners a more flexible body means that they will be able to get up off the snow much quicker, if they are falling down often, and for more advanced skiers or boarders, a more flexible body means that they will be able to handle the demands of differing terrain and postural changes a lot better.
For those kids playing summer and school sports, there will be the added advantage of fitness acquired through these activities, but for some kids, classroom inactivity precludes the start to the ski season, meaning that injury risk is higher and enjoyment is less.
The main muscles utilised by young skiers and boarders are the quadriceps in the legs, the butt muscles and the postural and rotational muscles of the trunk or torso. Balance is more difficult for the snow-boarder than the skier, as feet are locked in together, so changes in terrain are more difficult to compensate for. Because the boarder’s feet are locked in place, higher demands are placed on knee, ankle and hip joint proprioception (the ability for you to react more quickly to a loss of balance and avoid falling).
For serious snow-boarders, the use of a wobble-board or Swiss ball is an excellent way to improve balance, particularly if you can do the exercises with your eyes closed. Placing your snow-board on top of the wobble board is even more specific training for improving postural balance.
Strength is important for both skiers and boarders, especially for newcomers to the sport, as getting up from a fall demands not only technique, but also upper body strength to initiate the movement of getting up. Some upper body strength training added to the preparation programme is also advised. Without doubt, leg strength is fundamental to the success of skiing, as the hamstring, butt and quadriceps muscles contract together to assist in maintaining stability and absorbing the ‘shock’ of varied terrain. Any sports or specific exercises which work these muscles leading up to the ski season, will stand the skier or boarder in good stead.
With all the above issues in mind, whether you are a beginner or more advanced skier or snowboarder, use the following table to assist you to determine the best pre-season exercises or sports activities to include, to make the season a great, fun-filled, injury-free time for you.
An award-winning presenter and fitness industry leader, Wendy has been involved with the health and fitness industry in Australasia for three decades. Her most prominent role has been a long time commitment to the development of Personal Trainers since the early 1990’s. In 2011, this was acknowledged through Fitness NZ with their award for ‘The most outstanding contribution to the fitness industry’.
Following 18 years with the Les Mills group, Wendy left in 2001, to pioneer Personal Training education in NZ. Through work at AUT she supported the education of hundreds of personal trainers in the Auckland region. A move to Hamilton led to lecturing positions at Waikato University in exercise prescription, nutrition & wellbeing, sports medicine and exercise physiology papers. This was also the time that she completed her Master’s thesis in 2009, exploring how some of New Zealand’s leading Personal Trainers succeed in motivating and moderating exercise and nutrition behaviours with their clients.
Now undertaking her part-time PhD, Wendy continues to consult and writes for a number of fitness industry publications. This resulted in her being awarded, in 2014, the ‘Australasian Fitness Author and Educator of the Year’.