Shape up for the slopes: Four exercises to help you get fit for skiing
The ski season is upon us, and Our Retreat Chamonix – a new ski, yoga and mobility retreat in the foothills of Mont Blanc – is set to take to the slopes for the first time in February 2019. For savvy skiers who want to make the most out of their time in the snow, it’s important to prepare the body, mind and muscles, to avoid the fun being curtailed by sprains, aches and pains. Richie Norton, ‘The Strength Temple’ and regular Our Retreat trainer, claims that simple daily rituals can improve fitness, balance and posture; taking you from a nervous novice, to master of the mountain.
Whilst Our Retreat escapes offer daily stretching, yoga and mindfulness sessions to alleviate aches and promote an overall sense of wellbeing, it’s still crucial to prepare the body for hitting the slopes. Practising a circuit of exercises that build strength, stability and stamina in the run-up to the trip will lower the risk of injury and increase a speedy recovery.
Exercise 1 – Skier’s Squats
Stand straight with your feet hip or shoulder-width apart, keeping weight through your heels to prevent lift; take a breath in to help brace the body before you lower down. If doing this with just your bodyweight, lift the arms to provide a counterbalance, and send your hips back as if you were about to take a seat. Take the movement down as low as feels comfortable, aiming for a neutral spine and an engaged core throughout. Exhaling breath at the top of the movement, then repeat.
Exercise 2 – Side Lunge (with optional twist)
This is a slightly more advanced lunge that aims to improve range of motion, mobility and strength. Start standing as you would in a normal lunge, chest high, head forward and feet shoulder width apart. Take a large step out to the side, bending that knee and aiming to keep the other knee straight. Concentrate on pushing the hips back, as if going to sit down, and keep the foot of the bent leg flat on the ground. Maintaining good alignment and braced ‘core’, think neutral spine. You can also add a rotation here if you want to increase your range and feel challenged.
Exercise 3 – Spinal Articulation
Promoting movement through the spine is essential to achieve mobility, increase range of motion and help prevent injury, keeping the spine healthy and prepared for the extra wear and tear snow sports often add. Spinal articulation can take several forms, but Richie recommends a Yoga-inspired version that can be advanced depending how much you want to free up the movement. On all fours (table position), shoulders over hands and hips over knees, moving slowly, on the inhale look forward as you lift the chest, drop the shoulders back and raise the hips. On the exhale, drop chin to the chest, push away from the floor to open up the space between the shoulder blades, rounding the back, tucking the tail bone, and releasing the full length of the spine.
Exercise 4 – Classic Lunge
Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed. Keep your chin straight – staring at something in the distance can help – and engage your core. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90’ angle. Your front leg should be directly above your ankle, and your other knee just above the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to starting.
Founded by Lisa Carolan, Our Retreat offers opulent fitness, nutrition and wellbeing breaks for adventure-lovers, first-time-retreaters and solo travellers alike. Meet new people, enjoy delicious food and bespoke fitness classes, and take the time to leave the business of everyday life behind. Read more at https://www.ourretreat.co.uk/