Small Muscle Conditioning for Senior Skiers

Devil is in the Details (so think small)

If you love snow sports, this is always the time of year you start thinking about other stuff. Still, in the back of your mind is that voice, “If I had just been in a bit better shape….”. Perhaps All Things are not possible anymore, but Better Things are. So, at this age, the question becomes, “How do I wring that last little bit of fitness out of the old carcass?”

Three things come to mind: strength, flexibility, small muscle control.

exercis2

Something like yoga or Tai Chi or old fashioned gym-class stretching handles the flexibility issue.

For you men new to yoga…unlike women, no one really wants to see you in your yoga pants at the grocery store. OK? It’s  that whole Speedo-smuggling olives to the beach thing…don’t do it.

Strength? Most gym exercises and machines focus on building those big attractive muscle groups. The big muscles are important to senior skiing. They hold us up. They help us resist the forces that build at the bottom of the turn. Hit the slopes with weak quads or abs, and you will suffer.

exercise

What machine designers and exercise gurus often miss is that it’s the small muscles and the minute adjustments they make that keep us feeling balanced, comfortable, confident and in control. If you want to control your edges like a surgeon wields a scalpel you are going to have to target the small muscles around the joints.

There’s also fun.

 

Gym routines and running and biking will hit these small muscles by default but not always in a focused way that will benefit your skiing or riding. So, Mike, oh postulator of unscientific theory, you ask, “Whatever shall we do?” So glad you asked…

My own personal off-season regimen is to simply keep doing what I was doing.

Skiing effectively involves blending the skills of Pressure, Edge Control, and Rotational Movements (PER), lots of small movements in feet, ankles, knees, and hips. While the big muscles hold us up. The tiny ones are constantly making all the micro-adjustments that keep us feeling stable, and happy, and avoiding solid objects.

Many exercise regimes don’t really provide enough focus on small muscles to do you much good on the hill. Additionally, sitting in a machine, or on one, doesn’t fine tune your subconscious reactions to minute changes in balance that are so important to skiing effectively.

Start thinking NOW about your fitness program for the non-snow season.

Personally, I detest organized exercise. Classes and machines and routines leave me cold. But, fear not, Where There is a Hill There is a Way. It is no harder than going for a walk. What?!

Really, it’s easy. Walk backwards up a hill.

Walk in circles on a side-hill. Vary the width and depth of your stride.

Hop from foot to foot as you walk backwards or forwards while widening your landing zone.

Take a run up and down a dry stream bed from rock to rock. Feel how angulation and inclination come into play.

stream bed

Walk the top of a curb on your street.

Do some slack-line work

When you have all that mastered, add some weight to your ruck and start over.

What I am saying is get out and PLAY! Make getting fit all about having fun out of doors.

You don’t need a mat or stretchy pants or a membership.

Just go PLAY.

Give some thought to the things that give you trouble in the snow (remember the PER model—Pressure, Edge Control, Rotation) and devise some form of play that incorporates those same movements.

Play isn’t just about physical fitness. It’s FUN and FUN is good for the mind and spirit, too!

Being ready for the 2015-16 season doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, nor dull. . So, while you twiddle your thumbs waiting for the next snow season, go have some fun, would ya?!  Just Sayin…

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