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Warming up in Skiing & Snowboarding

Do you warm up before you hit the slopes?

Whether skiers and snowboarders are participating at a competitive level or purely for recreation, the principles of a good warm-up and cool down are the same. The most effective warm-up consists of general exercises as well as ski and snowboard specific ones. Warming up correctly not only helps to maximise performance, it can reduce the muscle soreness you feel after a day on the mountain.  Most importantly it may help to reduce your risk of injury.

The duration and intensity of the warm-up is unique to the individual. However; as a guideline it should last at least 10 minutes. The intensity should be enough to induce very mild sweating (as your core temperature increases by 1 or 2 degrees) without fatiguing.

It is a good idea to perform a general warm-up before any stretching is done. This should include joint rotations like shoulder circular motions (from the neck down to toes) followed by some light aerobic activity. After this is a good time to do some dynamic stretching. This could include arm swings, trunk rotations, inward and outward hip rotations, high leg kicks, kick backs and knee swings. They are gentle, slow types of stretching through the joint’s range of motion. Some of them will be similar to the kind of movements you will be doing in skiing and snowboarding.

Here is an example of a good warm up exercise

Remember to do enough to warm the muscles up but not to the point of tiredness (e.g. about 5 of each). Many of you probably already utilise static stretches (the kind of still, sustained stretch that you hold at the end range of the muscles length). However, there is not a great amount of evidence to show that static stretching actually offers any benefit with regards to helping reduce your injury risk, improve your muscle power or reduce your soreness later on. So depending on how important this part of your morning routine is, static stretches are probably not worth doing before riding.

Preparation is key!

Away from warming up lets not forget the importance of preparation before you head to the mountain! Really this should start at least 2-3 months before you go!

Here is a series of ski and snowboard preparation exercises that you can use day to day

Sebastien Toutant (pic courtesy of Sunset Films)

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