This is a guest post by Melissa Semenek of re:focus Pilates.
With winter in full swing and everyone skiing and boarding hard, it’s important to continue strengthening your backs, hips, knees and ankles so that you can finish the season in good form.
Though our joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons take the brunt of impact from winter sports, it is also important to focus on balance and co-ordination in order to be able to handle any conditions that arise.
We also want to give support to the spine and pelvis so that it is able to absorb the shock, wear and tear of deep powder skiing as well as provide balanced, bio-mechanically sound movement for our knees and hips.
Here’s a great series of exercises to promote foot, ankle and knee stability/ tracking as well as balance.
Foot/ Ankle & Knee Exercises
What you need - Large Fitness Ball, sticky mat or socks for grip on the floor.
Set Up - Standing with a fit ball between your back and a wall. Stretch your legs out in front of you at 45 degree angle, on sticky mat.
Safety to remember – The center of the knee cap should always point towards the second toe to minimize torque forces to the knee. Abs and pelvic floor should be engaged throughout the movements. If you have a knee injury reduce the amount of bend at the knee so that you stay in a pain-free range.
Squat – Feet Hip distance apart, tailbone towards the floor (not tucked under), bend the knees into a squat, (no lower than 90 degrees at the knees), press into the whole foot back to standing. Repeat 10x. Increase challenge by holding the 90 degree angle at the knees and add mini pulses for 10 repetitions, press all the way back up to standing.
Ankle Articulation – Feet and knees tightly together. With straight knees, lift the heels keeping them together. Then, keeping the heels lifted, bend the knees to a tolerable range. Press the heels to the mat maintaining the knee bend and and then straighten to standing. Repeat 10x then repeat the mini pulses as per the squat exercise.
Wide Stance Squat – Feet wider than the outside of the hips, turned out to the sides, repeat step 1 and the pulses. * Watch that the knee remains over the second toe the whole time.
Pelvis Curls – Feet and knees squeezed together tightly. Lift heels off the ground keeping them together and bend the knees (always keeping them together). Hold the knee bend and squeeze your gluteals to curl the pelvis/ tailbone under and and try to keep the glues squeezed as the pelvis releases to a neutral position. Repeat 10x pelvis curls and then return to standing.
Key Focus Areas - Focus on keeping the torso upright, rather than leaning on the ball, maintain a lower abdominal & pelvic floor contraction throughout, the slower you bend the harder you work and the more time you have to concentrate on activating the quad muscles by pulling your knee cap up into the thigh.
Good luck with the rest of the ski season… ps. these are also great exercises if you’re starting to think about your hiking and biking seasons coming up as well!
By: Melissa Semenek
Photo: Enjoying the last run of the day at CMH K2.