What does it take to be a powerful, smooth, energy-efficient skier? A skier with rhythm and flow, gliding seamlessly from one turn to the next? Just about any skier can become an energy-efficient gliding machine. To be smooth and yet powerful, to feel that your skis are an extension of your body, requires core-centered movement. Core-centered skiing means tapping into what Joseph Pilates referred to as the “powerhouse”. The powerhouse refers to the muscles of the torso: hips, abdominals, chest, back and shoulders. Pilates targets these muscles and can help you become a stronger, smoother, and more powerful skier.
Skiing requires proper alignment, lower-body fitness, core strength and a strong mind-body connection. Muscle imbalances in the legs, such as tight or weak hamstrings, coupled with overly powerful quadriceps, can leave the ankles, knees, hips and back vulnerable to injury. As a skier, you’ll appreciate the additional core strength gained from Pilates. Tapping into a strong core, you’ll improve your balance, agility and be more in control. By tightening your core, you’ll reduce impact on your back, hips and knees. As you improve your flexibility and core strength, your alignment will improve and so will your technique.
If your hips and core muscles are not strong, or if your muscles are inflexible, you will be challenged every turn on the slope. Moving from your center, balancing your muscles and improving your flexibility go a ling way to improving your technique, your endurance and will help you avoid injury. Over the past 70 years, the Pilates method of body conditioning has trained athletes to effectively strengthen and move from their core.
Pilates helps skiers to accomplish three things: prevent sport-specific injuries, improve performance and maintain longevity. It is designed to work your entire body uniformly each session. As you switch form one movement to the next, you’ll build flexibility, strength and stamina. Pilates strengthens and stretches all parts of your body, front to back, left to right and top to bottom.
An effective Pilates cross-training routine focuses on boosting core strength, improving flexibility and restoring muscle balance. Here are two Pilates exercise to help you get started. For a complete 15-minute Pilates for Skiing Cross training routine, please check out my book: Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete, available www.pilatesfortheoutdoorathlete.com. Copies are also available at Evergreen Pilates.
Side Bend: Sitting on one hip, extend your legs out from your torso with slightly bent knees. Place your top foot in front of your bottom foot. Reset your top arm on your leg and place your bottom arm slightly in front of your shoulder. INHALE, press up and make yourself straight as an arrow in a side plank. Your supporting arm should be under your shoulder. Look directly forward and keep your head inline with your spine. Pretend your body is between two panes of glass. EXHALE, lower yourself down so that you are a few inches off the ground. Avoid sinking into your shoulders or sitting down before you press back up. INHALE, raise back up and extend your top arm over your head and look down toward the floor. EXHALE down. Repeat on opposite side.
Roll Up: Begin lying on your back with your feet flexed and your arms overhead. Pull your navel to your spine. INHALE, raise your arms up toward the sky, and lift your head to look at your feet. Curl up, peeling your spine off the mat, as if rolling up a painting. Avoid using momentum to hoist yourself off the mat. Pretend you are under a very low sky and stay rounded throughout the exercise. Keep your heels connected to the floor as you roll up. EXHALE, and curl forward, reaching toward your feet, looking down at your knees. Hollow out your stomach as if there were something on your lap that you want to lift up and over. INHALE, and roll back down one vertebra at a time, as if you were making an imprint with your spine in sand. Keep your feet flexed and imprint your spine on the mat, ending with your arms overhead. EXHALE to complete.
Evergreen Pilates offers Ski Conditioning classes through the end of March. If you are new to Pilates, please call or email to schedule a complimentary introductory one-on-one lesson: 303-679-1664, firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Ski Conditioning with Pilates, please check out our webpage evergreenpilates.com .