Whether you’re skiing competitively or recreationally, strengthening your core will not only help you perform better on the slopes, but can also decrease your risk of injury to ligaments in the knee.
While you might focus on leg or cardiovascular exercises to prepare for skiing, a strong core is equally important. Your core helps keep the rest of your body balanced and in a proper position when you’re moving and shifting or turning on skis.
Your core includes the muscles between your shoulders and hips and deep core includes muscles in your midsection. Core strengthening exercises are helpful in multiple sports but are sometimes overlooked. Two of the best are planks and side planks, which can be done before you hit the slopes. Planks strengthen and stabilize your core muscles, which in turn stabilizes your spine and pelvis. If your core isn’t balanced, your hips may compensate for the weakness and become compromised.
To do a plank, start by lying flat on the floor. You can either rest your elbows on the floor as you push up to rest on your elbows and toes or push up to your hands in a higher plank. Hold the positions for 20 seconds to start and work up to one to two minutes as you get stronger. Don’t let your hips dip, which can strain your lower back, and aim to keep your body in a straight line when in the air. For a side plank, lie down on your side with your feet together and forearm under your shoulder. Raise your hips until your body is in a straight line and hold.
Adding regular exercises to bolster your core should pay off as you are able to ski faster, improve your turns, and help keep your weight centered, especially when you go over uneven terrain.
Lastly, ligament injuries and tears often occur when a binding on the ski doesn’t release when you fall. It’s a good practice to have your equipment, including bindings and boots, checked out at the start of the ski season to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Dr. Roger Nowak is an Orthopedic Surgeon with Core Physicians who specializes in Sports Medicine to effect quick recovery following damage to bones, muscles and joints. He is also an avid downhill skier.