Aside from protective gear like helmets and wrist guards, proper strength and conditioning is your number-one tool for staying healthy and safe on the slopes this winter. Here are some exercises to get you ready to shred and keep you on the mountain all season long. As an added bonus, all these exercises work your glutes, helping you build buns of steel.
Lie on your back with your heels resting on a ball. Dig your heels into the ball to contract your hamstrings, and lift our hips off the ground. Roll the ball towards you by bending your knees, while maintaining good hip and knee control. Perform 10-30 repetitions.
Tele Jumps / Jumping Lunges
Start in a lunge position with your right leg forward with your knee over your ankle, and your left leg back with your knee just off the ground. Also have your left arm forward and your right arm back. Jump up, switching your legs so you land in a lunge position, maintaining proper form. Perform for 45-90 seconds.
Stand on one leg and perform a single-leg squat, reaching forward with your uninvolved leg, keeping your foot barely off the ground, reaching toward Point A. Repeat on the opposite leg, reaching toward Point B. Do 3-4 sets on each leg. For an advanced version, do the exercise while standing on an unstable object (BOSU ball, balance disc, etc).
Stand on one leg and leap to the side onto your other leg. Absorb the landing by performing a partial squat, bending at the hips. Stick the landing and pause for 1-2 seconds before leaping to other side. Perform for 45-90 seconds.
The numbers of repetitions listed above serve as a guideline; ideally you should perform each set to fatigue, doing 3-4 sets every other day. Focus on proper form: keeping your shoulders and hips level, and your knee over your ankle while performing squatting-type exercises.
Jason Lunden is a board-certified clinical specialist in sports physical therapy at Excel Physical Therapy in Bozeman and a physical therapist for the U.S. Freeskiing and Snowboarding teams. For more information on injury prevention, check out his blog at excelptmt.com.