Every year, more people engage in winter pursuits and many push themselves to perform “better than last year.” Inevitably, with increased or intensified participation, the number of sports-related injuries also increases. Fortunately, over the past decade the field of sports medicine has made some terrific advances in sports-injury prevention.

Much of the success is due to the increase in neuromuscular control. Neuromuscular control relies on our bodies' ability to recognize and replicate different joint positions. This sense, called proprioception, can be improved through balance, eccentric loading, technical drills, and sport-specific drills. The following are exercises to illustrate each component.


Bosu Lateral Hop: 1 set, 15 foot contacts per set

Stand on one leg and then hop to a bosu on the same leg. Hold for three seconds, hop down to the other side, hold for three seconds, and then go back.

Eccentric Loading

Assisted or Unassisted Russian Hamstring Curl: Start with one set of 8-12 over a six-week period, work up to three sets

While kneeling, place your feet under a stable support or your training partner's foot. Then use your hamstrings to control you upper body’s descent the floor. Holding your hands about a foot apart with elbows at your sides, slow your body down with your hands. Then push yourself back up to upright. Your partner can also use an exercise band to slow your descent, but everyone should get used to doing this exercise this way first. A tremendous eccentric load is placed on the hamstring.

Technical Drills

Lateral Bounding with Stick: 3 sets of 10 bounds (10 foot contacts)

Hop from one leg to the other in a forward-diagonal fashion. Each time you land, focus on a stable one-legged soft landing and hold it for three seconds. Then bound back to the other side and hold again.

Sport-Specific Drills

Ski Squat Hold with Medicine Ball Drop: 3 sets of 5 ball drops

Stand in a strong ski tuck (hips back behind your feet, knees over your ankles, and arms in front). Have a partner drop a medicine ball from above to your hands. Use your legs to absorb the catch and hold momentarily, then, using your legs, throw the ball back to your partner. (Note: To make this exercise more specific for snowboarding, stand sideways, put a cigarette in your mouth and swear each time you catch the ball.)

These are just a few examples of exercises used to reduce injury risk. Open your mind to the types of exercises as you focus on your sports.

Steve Conant M.S., HFI, CSCS is a founding partner of Alliance Sports Medicine, Inc., formerly Advanced Training & Sport Conditioning, Inc. Alliance Sports Medicine specializes in prevention of disease and injury through lifestyle and exercise interventions.