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Patient exercises

Prepare to ski exercises

1. Wall Slide/Squat:

This exercise strengthens the gluteal (bottom) and thigh muscles that are so essential for skiing and boarding. It is very important to build this muscle up slowly and progress the exercise until you can perform the squat on one leg. If you experience any pain in the knee after squats do seek professional advice.

How: Stand with your back against a wall. Both feet should be pointing forward, shoulder width apart and at least 12 inches away from the wall. Lower down slowly into a squat position making sure that your kneecap remains over your middle toe and does not dip towards your big toe. Hold it for five seconds and then return to the upright position. Repeat this exercise 10 times and try to perform three sets.

Top Tip: To further mimic the action of skiing and make the exercise slightly harder try doing the squats on a decline board as shown. If you can complete the decline squat comfortably on both legs try it on one leg. This will also help with balance and encourage you to keep your weight forward. Start with small, well-controlled squats and make them deeper.

2. Rotation

As everyone who has ever done ski school knows, whether skiing or boarding it's really important to have lots of upper body flexibility so you can face down the mountain and come through those bumpy mogul fields like a pro.

How: Hold a ski pole (or broom stick) about waist height. Drop down into a squat. Keep your hips pointing forward and rotate the upper body left and right.

Top Tip: Once you have mastered this, stand facing forward with the stick behind your back and jump with your feet together, turning your hips and feet to the right keeping your trunk facing forward. Make sure you land with a deep bend of the knees to absorb the shock properly and try to land with the feet pointing forward and the kneecap over the middle toe.

3. Balance and Rotation

Good balance reactions while in the ski position can help prevent injuries. This exercise helps your muscles react quickly to positional changes you will perform on the slopes. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries account for 10-15% of all skiing injuries. Often this ligament is damaged during twisting and turning with the knee in a flexed position.

How: Stand on a cushion (or an unstable surface such as a wobble board if you have one available) in the squat position with a wall to your side. Place a ball (tennis or football) on the floor in front of you. Pick the ball up from the floor and throw it at the wall. Catch the ball as it bounces off the wall and touch down to the floor. Continue for one minute. Repeat to the other side.

Top Tip: You can increase the difficulty of the exercise by standing on one foot at a time or try this with a partner.

4. Static heel raises

This exercise allows you to build up endurance in the calf muscles and activate the leg muscles used for carving.

How: Facing upwards and standing straight, place the toes of both feet on the edge of a low step or stair. Once balanced (use a banister if unstable), bend your knees into a small squat, keeping your weight forward over your toes. Hold this position for three seconds and then straighten your legs. Repeat 10 times.

Top Tip: Once you've cracked this and are happy with your balance, shift your weight from side to side while in the mini-squat position. You can also try this on an angle using a decline board. This will further mimic the action of edging.

5. Trunk control and rotation

Core stability is imperative in order to provide a good stable base around the pelvic area and enhance the ability of the leg muscles to work most efficiently and effectively. Poor core stability is like having a crane without a stable base. This exercise uses the core muscles and also the oblique abdominals important for controlled rotation around the pelvis. If you have access to a stability ball then use this otherwise a soft chair can be used.

How: Rest your head and shoulders on the ball and make a bridging position with the rest of your body as shown. Make sure that your spine is in a neutral position i.e. you maintain a small curve in your spine not a flat back. Gently squeeze the gluteals to maintain the hip position. Clasp your hands together and roll your body to the right and left. Try to roll your trunk and not just your arms.

Top Tip: If you are happy with this exercise try clasping a light weight with both hands.

Leg stretches

When stretching the calf muscles it is important to stretch both the deep and superficial muscles. Just getting into our ski boots can be a chore if the calf muscles are tight but stretching the muscles in the calf will also help to achieve a good knee bend whilst skiing which is important for absorbing all those bumps and lumps.

1. Soleus stretch

How: To stretch deep calf muscles, stand with the left foot in front of the right but apart (ie step stance) with the toes pointing forward. Bend both knees until you feel a stretch at the base of the calf.

Top Tip: Remember to maintain a neutral foot position ie do not allow the arch of the foot to collapse or roll inwards and make sure that your knee drops over your middle toe, not the big toe.

2. Gastrocnemius stretch

How: To stretch superficial calf muscles, stand in step stance with one foot in front of the other, making sure both feet point forward and are in a parallel line with one another. Transfer your weight to the front foot and press the heel of your back foot to the ground. You should feel the stretch slightly higher up in the calf. Remember not to allow the arch of your foot to collapse.

Top Tip: Stretch arms out in front of you, clasp hands and push away from body to incorporate upper body stretch.

3. Hamstring stretch

Spending all day on chair lifts and in the squatting position can make the hamstrings extremely tight. To avoid feeling chair shaped at the end of the day make sure you stretch out the hamstrings. This will allow you to achieve a better position of the lower back too whilst you ski.

How: To stretch and increase length of hamstrings, stand with feet apart, dropping one leg slightly behind the other. Keep the front leg straight and bend the back leg at the knee, pull the front foot towards the ceiling and keep the heel of your foot on the floor. Hold for thirty seconds and repeat twice on each leg.

Top Tip: Keep your spine in a neutral position and bend from the hips until you feel a stretch at the back of the thigh. This is very important for the lower back and will achieve a better stretch.

4. Quadriceps stretch

How: Often the quadriceps (muscles at front of upper leg) become tight after skiing and boarding and may cause knee pain if not stretched correctly. Stand upright and draw one heel to your backside by holding the right ankle with right hand and vice versa for the left leg. Hold for a minimum of thirty seconds for each leg. Top Tip: Try to keep your knees in line with each other and slightly flatten your lower back by squeezing your bottom muscles.

5. Adductor Stretch

The adductor muscles are the ones on the inside of the thigh and are used to draw the leg inward. For the beginner they will be used to control the snow plough position and in the more advanced skier they will help to control the pelvis. Many injuries to the knee involve the medial collateral ligament which is the band running on the inside of the knee joint. Tears of this ligament account for 20-25% of all skiing injuries. Often this injury occurs in the beginner skier learning to snow plough. If the snow plough becomes too wide it can stress the inside of the knee therefore the adductors need to be active to control the movement. This exercise will not only stretch the adductors but it uses the adductor muscle to control the stretch as well.

How: Lie on the floor with your feet on the wall in the position shown. Make sure you maintain a small curve in the base of your spine. Slide your right foot upwards until you feel a stretch in the posterior thigh. Then slide the leg outwards until you feel a stretch on the inside thigh. When you get to the stretch position hold it for 5 seconds and then gently draw in your tummy muscles and slide the leg back to the middle position. Bend the knee and repeat on the other leg. Repeat 10 times to each side.

Top Tip: make sure that you keep the hips pointing straight ahead and do not allow the pelvis to rotate. Imagine you have a long stemmed champagne glass resting on your stomach that you do not want to fall. To increase the stretch on the back of the leg pull your foot downwards toward you. If you have wrap-around leg weights these can be used as a progression.

Back rotation stretch

As skiing and boarding involve lots of twisting and turning movements, rotation flexibility is especially important.

How: Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left and then lower both knees to the floor on the left. To stretch your back and oblique abdominal muscles, place both arms at shoulder height over to the opposite side of your body. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and then repeat with the left leg over the right knee. Alternatively roll from right to left slowly 5 times to each side. Make sure you gently contract the stomach muscles.

Please contact us to book an appointment or for more information on any of the services available at our clinic in Kensington.

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