Stretch for the Ski Season
At Stretch Studios, we are no strangers to the concepts of relaxation, performance and recovery. One area this is especially true is with high impact sports such as skiing, and the importance of proper stretching for skiers of all abilities.
Skiing comes with so many opportunities for muscles to tighten around the knee and hip joints. When you think about what your lower body goes through during a ski trip, it should be no surprise why injuries like ACL, MCL, meniscus tears, and hip tightness become so common. You drive to the mountain seated in a flexed position that tightens the muscles around the knees and hips, such as your anterior tibialis, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Factor in the ski lift, the moguls, the impact of jumps and the quick twists and turns and cold temperatures – there are so many opportunities for one’s lower body to tense up. By stretching muscles around the knees and hips like the IT band, the adductors, the quads, and hip flexors, that tension can be lessened and prevented. By releasing the tension, you are putting your muscles in a more optimal state to perform better and reduce your risk of injury.
The high speed and performance demands of skiing creates a level of unpredictability in your body, especially in an area as sensitive as your knees. The reason for this is because of the complex genetic engineering that goes into the makeup of the lower body. The knee, for example, has an extremely large threshold for impact absorption that allows people to run and jump at unprecedented levels of competition despite moving in a simple hinge motion. However simple the motion, the amount of muscles used to perform the hinge itself is actually quite drastic. If these muscles like the quadriceps and the calves are underused or have weak function there will be drastic increase of injury, and therefore decrease in performance. In order to aid the knee in performance we move these muscles through their normal range of motion and try to increase the degree of range each time. By stretching and progressing the musculature around the knee we help promote proper movement and elasticity from the largest movement contributors to the smallest. Prepping each muscle allows the knee to perform at its best, as it works as one cohesive machine made to perform rather than a crucible of tension waiting to implode.
Stretching can also help you recover from inefficient movement patterns in your knees. If you have orthopedic deformities in your knees, then the proper structure and alignment of your lower body is compromised which can be dangerous in a high impact sport like skiing. It is similar to being in a building with compromised foundation during hurricane season. If the structure of the house is not solid, then it will not support the impending impact and the house will be compromised.
While the tendency is to focus solely on the lower body, it should be stressed that the upper body should not be overlooked.
Your upper body is impacted from the twisting of your torso while changing direction, planting your poles to create momentum, and bracing when falling. Fractured wrists and shoulder dislocations are just as common in skiing as lower body injuries and can be treated with the same methodology. Our shoulder protocol focuses on stretching the shoulder and it’s many attachments like our triceps, biceps, pectoral muscles, deltoids, rotator cuffs – moving them through full range of motion. Our wrist protocols will stretch the muscles in your wrist and forearm like your proximal wrist flexors and your brachio radialius to loosen up the wrist and bring the muscles to their appropriate length. Both of which will increase awareness during performance through stimulation of the nervous system which can make a significant difference in a quick sport like skiing.
The ski season is short, and most ski trips are taken on the weekend after a long busy week. That, coupled with the cold weather, means your body deserves the proper preparation before heading up to the mountain, and the proper recovery when you get home.