Preparing your Knees for Skiing

Preparing your Knees for Skiing

Following on from our previous article about what to do if an injury occurs on the slopes, here we recommend some pre-skiing exercises for preparing your knees for skiing.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable skiing experience, it’s crucial to prepare your body physically, especially when you’ve experienced an injury before and may have lost confidence.

By starting a pre-skiing exercise plan a few weeks ahead of your holiday, incorporating the right elements, you can reduce the risk of a knee injury on the slopes. So, what are the right elements of a pre-skiing exercise plan?

Why skiing preparation is so important

Skiing demands a unique set of physical attributes, including strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. Neglecting to undertake an exercise programme that incorporates these can increase the risk of injuries and impact your overall skiing performance. To optimise your readiness for the slopes, it is advisable to embark on a well-structured pre-skiing exercise plan.

A recent study emphasised the significance of targeted exercises to reduce the likelihood of severe knee injuries requiring surgery highlighting the importance of strengthening the upper leg muscles with exercises such as squats and lunges. Strengthening these muscles not only improves skiing performance but also helps to prevent common knee injuries associated with skiing, such as ACL tears that can be very painful and may need surgical reconstruction.

Another study of young alpine skiers looked at the specific benefits of targeted balance exercises for skiing. It found a correlation between enhanced balance and reduced injury risk on the slopes. By incorporating balance exercises into your pre-skiing routine, you can improve your ability to navigate varied terrains and respond effectively to unexpected challenges.

The demands placed on muscles during skiing require a combination of strength and endurance. Engaging in a well-rounded strength training programme can not only enhance your skiing performance but also contribute to overall joint stability and resilience.

Creating a balanced pre-skiing exercise plan

To make the most of your skiing adventure, it is recommended to initiate an exercise plan 8 to 12 weeks before your ski holiday. This time frame allows for gradual conditioning, helping your body to adapt to the specific demands of skiing. However, if you have less than 8 weeks, an exercise programme can still make a big difference. A physiotherapist or a qualified personal trainer can assess your current fitness level, identify areas of improvement and tailor a plan that aligns with your skiing goals, taking into account any pre-existing conditions. When you cannot see an exercise specialist, there are plenty of free online guides and exercise videos available that are easy to follow. Set aside 30 minutes to do these, two to three times a week – little and often is the best way for building up your fitness to be ready for the slopes.

The pre-skiing exercise plan should encompass a mix of cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, flexibility and balance exercises. Cardiovascular workouts, such as indoor or outdoor cycling and jogging, enhance overall endurance while strength exercises target key muscle groups involved in skiing. Exercises such as squats, side lunges, Russian twists and planks are all great ways to build up strength.

Balance drills, such as single-leg exercises and stability ball exercises, enhance proprioception and prepare your body for the uneven and challenging surfaces encountered on the slopes. Flexibility exercises, including dynamic stretches and yoga, also contribute to improved joint mobility and range of motion. These are particularly important for the fluid and dynamic movements required in skiing.

Help with preparing your knees for skiing

Collaborating with a qualified physiotherapist or personal trainer will help to ensure that your pre-skiing exercise plan is tailored to your unique needs and goals. These professionals possess a deep understanding of biomechanics, injury prevention, and rehabilitation, making them invaluable partners in your skiing preparation journey.

An exercise specialist can guide you through proper warm-up and cool-down routines, ensuring that your muscles are primed for skiing and aiding in post-activity recovery. Additionally, they can provide advice on injury prevention strategies and offer specific exercises to address any pre-existing conditions or vulnerabilities. However, building up your fitness and following a pre-skiing exercise plan on your own, or with family or friends, will also be beneficial.

Overall, investing time in a well-structured exercise plan can significantly enhance your skiing experience, improve confidence, and reduce the risk of injuries. The key is to start early, stay consistent, and prioritise your physical readiness for a memorable and injury-free skiing season.