Exercises to help you with winter sports
There’s almost nothing more invigorating than getting out into the brisk air and enjoying a favorite wintertime sport. After all, it’s not all year that you can strap on your snowshoes or grab your ski poles to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of winter exercises. But, as with all sports, it’s important to make sure your body is in proper condition to handle those slaloms and skating rinks with ease. These exercises to help you with winter sports will allow you to activate important muscles and reduce your risk of injury while prepping you for a season of snow-filled fun.
Unless you live in Antarctica, your feet and legs probably won’t be too used to traversing uneven snowy or icy surfaces. To navigate this different terrain comfortably, add some balance exercises in with your winter workouts to keep your lower body strong. Start with the basics and work your way up to the exercises that you find more difficult. Here are a few to begin with:
• Stand on one leg. Try for 10 seconds on each leg, and work your way up to 30 seconds. Then, try with your eyes closed.
• Walk toe to toe. Count out 20 paces and back, and work your way up to 50.
• Stand on one leg on a pillow or a wobble board for 10 seconds on each side.
Take your squats to the next level by adding a jump to engage your core. Stand straight up with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down, making sure your knees don’t extend past your toes. Stretch your arms straight out in front of your body. Once you’re in a deep squat, spring directly up into a jump, bringing your feet off the floor. Drop back into a squat again when you land, and repeat.
Get your ankles, calves and knees in shape for a snowshoeing trip or a day of cross-country skiing. If you have a pair of heavy winter boots or ankle weights, strap them on so you can get the feel of trudging through snow. Step up onto a sturdy box or aerobics platform with one leg. Bring your other leg up so both feet are on the elevated surface. Then, step backwards using the leg you started with. Return to your initial position.
Flexibility is important when you’re gliding down mountains or across the ice. Stay limber with dynamic stretches — that means you’re moving while you’re stretching. Start with high kicks to warm up and stretch out your lower body. Extend your arms straight out from your shoulders. Then, gently kick each leg up toward the hand on the same side of your body. If you can touch your palm with your toes during the kick, that’s great! If not, simply keep trying to kick as high as you can.
Prep for those downhill blitzes with lunges that condition your quads and knees. Take a big step forward onto one foot. Bend your back knee until it just touches the floor. Use your front leg to push up and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Get your thighs powered up with these creative lunges. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended in front of your body. Lunge backward with your right foot, placing it behind and in line with your left foot. Bend both knees to a 90-degree angle, stand back up and return your right leg to your starting position. Repeat on the left side to complete one full rep.
Before you hit the slopes, it’s a great idea to come in for your annual physical or discover other useful workout tips. Visit mercy.com today to make an appointment with your primary care doctor or a specialist who can help you learn more about wintertime fitness.