4 Exercises to Prepare You for Ski Season

Storyteller

Jen Weir

Don't let a bum knee keep you from enjoying every square inch of the mountain.

In a few parts of the country winter has arrived and Mother Nature has been busy laying down some solid base. If it hasn't reached you yet, you know it's just a matter of time until you'll be clipping into your bindings and immersing your tips into some sweet, sweet #powpow.

Before you hit the slopes this year, I'd like to recommend a few mobility exercises to prep your knees and hips. The knee is a very common site of injury among skiers, particularly the ACL and MCL. And while the hips aren't especially vulnerable to injury on the slopes, lack of mobility in them can definitely hinder your ability to navigate the mountain.

While many of us can float through life (and powder) without injury, that risk is always present. I've always been a fan of mitigating risk when possible -- especially in terms of joint injury (I've messed up my knee a few times, no bueno). Just remember prehab is way easier and cheaper than rehab and it doesn't steal your entire ski season! Now, let's get mobile.

1. Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is the quintessential movement for lower body mobility. The fact that you throw in a little resistance via a dumbbell or kettlebell only adds to the effectiveness. This exercise moves your hips, knees and ankles through a large range of motion. Using proper form will keep your knees properly aligned while building strength in the quads, glutes and hammies -- all necessities when navigating the slopes.

How to: Stand with your feet a little wider than your hips and your toes pointed slightly outward. Hold a weight of your choice with both hands against your chest with your elbows fully flexed. Stabilize your core then slowly lower down into a squat, keeping your weight primarily in your heels. Ideally you want to go low enough that your elbows graze, or get close to grazing, the inside of your knees -- that butt's gotta get low! Aim for 10 to 20 reps.

2. Egg Beater

If you've ever watched a swimming competition you've likely seen swimmers doing this goofy looking movement. Generally speaking, our knees are a simple hinge joint that move back-and-forth, however we all know that's not always the case -- the knee moves in ways we'd rather not think possible. The egg beater moves your knees through their full range of rotational movement, improving mobility and general health of the knee by forcing synovial fluid throughout the entire joint.

How to: Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent to 90-degrees, your shins should be parallel with the floor. Begin to circle your right foot clockwise while simultaneously circling your left foot counter-clockwise. Move in this fashion for 30 to 60 seconds before switching directions with both feet. 

3. Skiers

Aptly named, this movement is perfect for skiers. The exercise takes your hips and knees through various movements in a lateral fashion. As you know, during just one run down the mountain your knees move back and forth countless times. Skiers will help to improve side-to-side stability in your knees, prepping them for as many moguls as you can throw at them.

How to: Stand with your feet together and slowly lower into a squat while simultaneously twisting your hips to one side. Lower until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Return to starting and twist to the other side. Move slowly, completing 5 reps on each side. 

4. Squat Hold

No ski-prep workout would be complete without a squat hold -- because who doesn't love that quad burn?! While you can opt for a wall sit here to improve strength and endurance in your hips and thighs, I'd prefer you ditched the wall. After all, most of us haven't had someone supporting us from behind since we were little tikes.

How to: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width. Brace your core, extend your arms to the front and lower into the lowest squat position you can manage without tipping over. Hold here for as long as you can. Each time you attempt this exercise try to go a little longer and/or a little deeper -- hitting the two-minute mark would be a pretty impressive feat. If you have a hard time keeping your balance, hold on to a chair or counter. 

And there you go, do these quick movements a few times a week to get and keep your lower body joints ready for whatever the mountain and some of your not-so-stellar "brilliant" ideas can throw at them.

Cover photo: Noah Couser

Published: November 20, 2017

Jen WeirStoryteller

Montana native, writer, CSCS, military wife, mom and Wonder Woman protégé. I love books, beer, bacon, mountains, muscles, sunshine and getting outside with my family every chance I get.

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