A week’s worth of skiing or snowboarding lessons will certainly improve skills on the slopes, but these top tips will move technique forward in leaps and bounds without the help of an instructor. The best part is all of these tips can be done at home in your ski thermals.
Contract Your Pelvic Floor On The Mountain
The need to strengthen pelvic floor muscles is often associated with pregnant women, but they’re also essential for stabilising the pelvis and lower back during sport. Switching them on can make the legs work more efficiently.
When skiing and snowboarding, the pelvic floor is extra important on more unstable surfaces – tackling bumps, off piste or tricky conditions is easier when these muscles are contracted.
Switching them on also activates other core muscles, including the transverse abdominal muscle, which works like a corset to stabilise lower back and pelvis. These other muscles are likely to be weaker for anyone with a history of back pain, so all the more reason to train them.
So to contract your pelvic floor muscles the correct way to contract them is by pulling upwards. The contraction should be about 20 per cent of your maximum so it can be held for as long as possible. Try to keep the pelvis in a neutral position while doing this – don’t stick your bum out too far behind you or pull it too far forwards.
Stand On One Leg With Your Eyes Closed
Even if it’s on the first morning at the top of the mountain, doing this will have a positive effect. It’s never too late – although the more often you do the exercise, the more you’ll benefit.
Standing on one leg with eyes closed trains the body’s sense of position. It’s essential for skiing and snowboarding because it reveals what your arms and legs are doing without the need to look at them – all the more important off piste or in bad visibility. As well as improving performance, this exercise means you’re less likely to fall, and has been shown to be a major factor in preventing injury in athletes.
To practise, simply stand on one leg with eyes closed. Hover your hands over something sturdy, such as the back of a chair, in case you lose your balance. If you find it easy, add mini knee bends. It’s easy to work this exercise into a daily routine by doing it for a minute or two morning and evening while cleaning your teeth.
Warm Up Properly
A proper warm-up reduces the risk of injury or pain, and increases performance by ensuring that muscles are functioning at their best. It should raise your core body temperature and boost the circulation of blood to your entire body, enabling your brain, muscles and nerves to perform.
It’s also important to take joints through the motions used in skiing and snowboarding. This helps to make sure the fluid in your joints lubricates the movements, and ensures that ligaments and soft tissues are elastic enough.
The way to warm up is not by static stretching. Instead, start each day by gradually building up from easier slopes to more difficult ones. Start with sweeping turns on blues then work in shorter turns, increase the gradient of the slope and keep practising variously shaped turns until hitting the more technical stuff.
Warm Up With Some Easy Turns On A Gentle Piste
Sometimes hip joints need an extra warm-up, especially before trying more advanced challenges like moguls or steep, deep off piste. Dynamic stretching can help with this.
Dynamic stretching is very different from static stretching. First, stand without your skis or board and lift one leg, using your poles to balance. Lift your thigh, then move and twist your knee outwards. Then move it back while twisting it inwards and crossing it across the midline of your body. Do this slowly and in a controlled way. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop and seek a physiotherapist’s opinion.
If there’s no pain, repeat the exercise a few more times, slowly building up the speed and range of motion. Repeat on the other side.
Visualise Upcoming Challenges
This is another technique used by professional athletes to improve skill and confidence. You can do it on the chairlift, or at the top of the slope you’re about to tackle – but the further in advance you do it, the more effective it is.
The idea is to visualise yourself skiing or snowboarding the way you want to, incorporating the advice on technique you’ve been given. As you visualise, connect mentally with your body by imagining the feeling of your feet in your boots, the gentle ache of your thigh muscles as they work, the depth of your breath, the wind on your face, the powder in your eyes. You’ll be surprised how effectively it works.
Check Yourself Out In A Mirror
Standing in front of the mirror in your chalet or at home isn’t just for seeing how great you look in your S’No Queen thermals. A mirror can also help by looking at how you move into a ski or snowboard position can be very revealing. It shows things about your posture you didn’t realise you were doing – for example, knees dropping in when you bend them, not flexing enough at the ankles, sticking your bottom out or tucking it under too much.
Whatever you notice, watching yourself moving in the mirror and making the necessary corrections increases your body awareness. In turn, this makes it easier to understand and apply the advice you’re given by others.
So now you have the tips you need to master the art or skiing or snowboarding all you have left to worry about is which of your designer thermals you will pack for your next holiday. Don’t forget to check out our new winter collection as we have some very stylish thermals that suit every style.