Waterski wisdom

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With summer and the infamous Bridge to Bridge race just around the corner, I thought it was an ideal time to talk about the most common waterskiing injury that I see every year.

Waterskiing can be extremely taxing on your body and to get the most out of your summer, the last thing you need is an injury keeping you out of the water.

The most common early season waterskiing injury is the hamstring strain. I’ve seen this injury in both the experienced skier and the raw beginner. First time getting out on the water puts a huge strain on the legs and can lead to a muscle strain of the hamstring.

This is often caused because the core is not strong enough and the gluteal muscles in the butt are not turned on. Your power and control on the ski comes from a stable pelvis. If the body feels the pelvis is not controlled, then the hamstrings are switched on to protect the pelvis and back.

The problem is that when the skier holds on too tight trying to get up out of the water all the load from the boat is transferred into the hamstrings causing a tear or muscle strain. So to prevent this injury, it’s not about having more flexible hamstrings but having a stronger core and stronger gluteal muscles.

In previous articles I’ve talked about the importance of the Oov for core stability. The following exercises are specific to waterskiing in that they train balance, stability, strength and core all in one movement.

While finding a knowledgeable personal trainer is easy, finding one who understands the specific dynamics of water skiing is not.

“Unlike conventional athletic training, a skier’s training needs to account for the non-traditional positioning the body is forced to assume while on a slalom ski, while still increasing overall strength and endurance.”

I have designed a set of exercises that directly apply to each phase of skiing — the load, the transition and the turn — to help keep you on the water and injury-free.

In this article I am sharing two exercises to strengthen the glutes and the core.

johnappelHolding lunge on a Bosu ball with a single cable row for shoulder and core strength
Build up to 30 rows each side, 3 sets each leg. During this exercise, remember to keep the knee directly above the ankle while balancing on the Bosu ball or wobble board.  Hold this static lunge constantly while performing the cable row. It really works your legs and helps build that muscle endurance you need for waterskiing.

johnappel2Battle rope snakes
In addition to building endurance, this move forces you to stabilise while your upper body is under alternating unilateral forces. Keeping your core engaged throughout this exercise will allow you to control the battle rope, much as it will with the slalom rope. Battle ropes are a very affordable and versatile addition to your home or dockside gym.

With the rope fully extended, take a step forward to gain some slack. Lower into a full 90-degree squat. Keep your chest high and back straight.

With short, alternating chopping movements begin snaking the ropes. One arm will be chopping up while the other is chopping down. Your goal is to control the rope’s motion.

Start with 15 second bursts and progress to slalom stance as you get stronger as shown in the second picture.

With six weeks to go before the Christmas break, now is the time to get started on these exercises.  One final tip, make sure and do a good warm-up before doing that first ski of the season.  Try 20 walk-out lunges, 20 burpees and 60 seconds on the battle ropes as a great warm-up to get the blood pumping and the body ready to hit the water.

Look forward to seeing you out there on the water having fun this summer.

Director of Advance Physio, John Appel is dedicated to helping everyone function fully and enjoy everyday life without the restriction of pain.With a Masters in Physiotherapy, a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology, an Athletic Training degree, and as a Myofascial Release therapist, he works with a wide range of clients from professional athletes to chronic fibromyalgia clients. www.advancephysio.co.nz

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