Prepping for winter play can often be as simple as a quick dusting off of your gear. Your body, however, will need more of a pre-season jump-start if you want to stay injury-free. Connie Sciolino, co-owner of Boulder’s Alpine Training Center, helps skiers, ice climbers, cyclists, and Search and Rescue volunteers strengthen their weak spots with hour-long, sport-specific training sessions. Like CrossFit, ATC uses group training to improve strength, mobility, and cardiovascular fitness, but ATC focuses workouts towards your chosen sport, instead of general fitness (although they do that, too). We asked Sciolino what her clients' most common issues are and the best way to head off injuries.
Focus on: Shins and Calves
To: Improve stability when turning on your skis or snowboard.
Make 'em strong: Combine quick agility movements with strength training. Balance lower leg muscles by walking forward while pushing a tire or weighted sled to activate calves. Then pull it by walking backwards to activate shins. Toe jumps increase ankle mobility and toe raises build up calves, which results in more stability on your skis.
Focus on: Glutes, Hamstrings, and Quads
To: Increase downhill joint protection and uphill power for hiking and nordic skiing.
Make 'em strong: Lunges activate all three muscle groups while strengthening the ever-important posterior muscles. The more balanced the trio, the more you’ll protect the joints around your knees. Throw in some bench step-ups and squats for a well-rounded workout.
Focus on: Core and Lower Back
To: Improve hip mobility and get rid of sitting-related stiffness and back pain from your desk job.
Make 'em strong: Classic yoga moves like down dog, up dog, camel, cat, and Superman help loosen tight hips and backs and increase mobility. Add rotational movements to your typical crunch or plank workout with standing medicine ball twists, and side bends to work the transverse abdominis, a corset of muscles that stabilize your back during ski slope turns and twists.
Focus on: Shoulders
To: Prevent overuse for ice climbers and jarring injuries for the accident-prone (i.e., catching yourself during a fall).
Make 'em strong: Like hips, you want to work on mobility first before focusing on strengthening exercises. Rowing on a machine or using dumbells loosens up rotator cuffs. Push-ups and pull-ups increase shoulder strength for multi-directional power. Add in rope climbing, bench presses, and dumbbell overhead presses to get those shoulders extra-toned.
For more information about Alpine Training Center or to sign up for classes, click here or call 303-859-4579.
—Image via Shutterstock