Whether you’re a total beginner, an experienced or professional skier, young or old – everyone has to warm up before hitting the slopes!
As tempting as going straight to the ski lift and sliding down the slopes may be, one should never skip a warm-up. In this blog article, the team of CheckYeti explains you the advantages of quick warm-up sessions and shares easy yet effective warm-up exercises you can do directly on the slopes.
Why is a warm-up necessary?
Skiing is a sport that can strain the body quite a bit, even for those who ski regularly. Except for a lunch break in a ski hut, skiers mostly spend the whole day on the resort’s slopes, and, unfortunately, many don’t even think about warming up before hitting the slopes. A warm-up is the most important preparatory part of every sport, including skiing. Hence, you really shouldn’t slide down a piste without having warmed up a bit before. In the case of skiing, a warm-up helps to warm the body up and also loosen it on cold winter days.
A quick warm-up prior to your first descent not only activates your circulation and your muscles, but it also prepares your body for the upcoming strain. Warming up correctly, therefore, minimises the risk of injuries and the probability of having sore muscles the next day. Furthermore, a warmed-up body leads to better efficiency and performance, making skiing even more fun. It is very important to activate the muscle groups that are used the most for skiing. You can easily achieve this by doing special exercises.
How does a warm-up benefit the body?
Knowing what exactly happens to your body during a warm-up will help you better understand the benefits of such exercises. The movements you do during a warm-up on the slopes not only increases your body temperature but also your breathing rate and your pulse. These increases then lead to better blood circulation in your muscles. Consequently, oxygen and other nutrients like minerals and carbohydrates are pumped into the muscles a lot faster.
Another positive effect of warming up is that waste products, produced in the body during physical activity, are eliminated more effectively. That way, an excess of acids in your muscles can be better prevented. A burning sensation in your thighs, for example, is how this hyperacidity is noticeable. Furthermore, warming up also helps to prepare your joints for the upcoming strain on the slopes, as the fluids inside the joints are increasing. This helps the body cushion shocks and prevent the joints from being worn down.
Warming up is not only great for your body, but it also helps you to prepare you mentally. Simple warm-up exercises send stimuli to your brain, signalling that physical activity is coming soon and that high concentration is required.
CheckYeti Tip: CheckYeti recommends doing a few warm-up exercises even after your lunch break or other stops in order to have a smoother transition back to the slopes.
Exercises on the slopes: getting ready for a successful day of skiing
Warming up effectively is easy and fast. In this part of the blog, you’ll find a number of exercises that you should do before hitting the slopes. All listed exercises can be done right before skiing down the pistes, for example on top of the mountain, and only take a few minutes to do. It is recommended to repeat every exercise 5 to 10 times.
Swing your body – Arm circles and leg swings
Doing arm circles and swinging your legs are the “mobilising” warm-up exercises of skiing. These exercises are especially great for loosening up your shoulder and hip joints. To warm up your arms, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart from each other. Start circling your arms, first to the front, then to the back. Try doing at least 10 full circles for each direction. Whether you want to circle both arms or rather one arm at a time is up to you.
If you want to work on your coordination, you can also try circling your arms in opposite directions: while you circle one arm to the front, circle the other one to the back, and afterwards do it the other way around. This exercise is quite useful if your fingers are cold, as it stimulates the blood circulation in the whole arm.
You can activate your leg muscles by swinging them back and forth. If you’re having difficulties keeping your balance, try holding on to your skiing poles.
CheckYeti Tip: You can intensify the leg swings by swinging your legs sideways, meaning from left to right. The weight of your ski boots will make this even more effective!
The strength lies in the centre – Hip circles/torso rotations
Activating the centre of the body is just as important as warming up your arms and legs. Your core is what will give you stability during skiing. Start this exercise by standing straight with your legs at shoulder-width, and place your hands on your hips. This is the best way to circle your hip – big circles are most effective for this exercise. And don’t forget: always circle in both directions, clockwise and counterclockwise!
A similar exercise also exists for the torso. Simply take your skiing poles and put them on your shoulders behind your head. Hold on to the poles and then try rotating your torso as far as you can in both directions.
CheckYeti Tip: If you don’t have skiing poles at your disposition, you can easily warm up your torso in another way. Simply stretch your arms out to the side and bend forward. Once you’ve done that, rotate your torso so that your right hand touches your left shoe. Afterwards, do it the other way around and repeat the exercise.
The classic – Squats
As your legs are strongly strained during skiing, warming up your leg muscles is crucial. A true classic when it comes to leg warm-up exercises are squats. Start this exercise by standing straight with your feet about shoulder-wide. Try going down as low as you can until you reach a low squatting position. The number of squats you should do depends on your physical condition. However, a minimum of 10 squats is recommended. Make sure that your knees are behind your toes. By doing full squats, you can efficiently activate your thigh muscles.
You can change things up a bit with squat variations. You can, for example, hold the squatting position for 20 seconds or whip back and forth. Another option is to imitate the movements made when making a turn on the slope.
Let’s go – Walking on the spot
Walking on the spot helps to warm up your lower body. For this exercise, lift your left and right leg one after the other for 20 to 30 seconds. When you lift your legs, make sure you lift them high enough – ideally, your thighs should be parallel to the ground. You can intensify this exercise by doing it with your skis attached to your shoes or by increasing the speed. Skiing poles can, of course, be used for better stability. Make sure that your upper body is always straight during this exercise.
Doing jumping jacks is the perfect exercise to accelerate your heart rate. Start this exercise by standing straight with your legs closed and your arms down your sides. Jump and land with your feet wide apart (wider than shoulder-width) and jump back to the starting position. When your feet are spread wide, clap your hands together over your head. While you jump back into the starting position, lower your arms again.
CheckYeti Tip: It’s often difficult to motivate kids to do a warm up. That’s why you should always try to add a bit of fun to the exercises. Fun games, like playing tag, having a snowball fight or racing each other can easily get even the youngest kids to move and warm up their bodies.
Whether I’m describing a beautiful ski area or telling you all about the right skiing techniques, writing articles always makes me want to leave for a new adventure, and I hope reading them has the same effect on you!