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This time of year, ski conditioning programs pop up all over the valley, often prompting the question: “Do I need to add ski conditioning to my workout schedule if I’m already exercising regularly?” Jeff Morgan the Vail Vitality Center’s Club Director answers your questions and concerns.
Avid skiers and riders know pre-season sport-specific conditioning is vital for injury prevention, endurance, flexibility, proper breathing and quick reflexes. Beginners and guests often don’t fully understand – or forget – the demands put on the body on even an easy ski day.
Everyone likes to feel good heading into a new season, so ski conditioning can benefit every body, from beginner to avid enthusiast.
You might be thinking: “When I see people in ski conditioning classes, they look like they’re in pain. Why would I subject myself to torture?”
Everyone’s body reacts differently, and pain is only one reaction to the movements initiated in class. Pain comes from underuse of a certain neurological pattern, and the soreness is new muscles waking up to preform. When we don’t force, or “tell,” our muscles to work differently from our normal day-to-day activity, we run the risk of injury. A little discomfort in training goes a long way toward making the whole season more enjoyable and pain-free.
You may be wondering: “How big of a difference will pre-season conditioning really make in my skiing or riding and in my experience on the mountain.”
The biggest cause of injury during skiing and riding is strain to muscles being pushed further than they should be. This is when pre-season conditioning plays the biggest role. Emphasis on cardiovascular workouts, leg strengthening, balance and mobility exercises produce muscle memory. We create muscle memory with personally tailored and paced exercises that make all levels of skiers and riders feel as though they’ve been on the mountain all day. So, when you are on the mountain the first day of the season you feel strong.
And, now you may be thinking, “I biked all summer. Why is that not adequate training for ski and snowboard season?”
Since riding is not weight bearing, and skiing is to an extent because of momentum, you need to add other training to your routine to prepare for the mountain. Ski conditioning-specific programs help strengthen the muscles used for skiing and riding, which are different from biking muscles. Training with weights forces the use of the legs and ankles at continually changing angles, which improves strength and balance.
At this point you may be wondering if these classes are for uber-athletes? Not at all. An exercise class with a purpose can be beneficial for all types and levels of athletes, whether you have experience or not. An appropriately designed class includes warm-up, cool-down and flexibility exercises, in addition to the conditioning section. In a structured class, you can count on the instructor to address each component of the workout, as well as the intensity.
And, what if you’re too sore after a couple of classes to keep going? Don’t stop! This affects long-term achievement. At the Vail Vitality Center you can use the remaining balance for private lessons. After a few sessions, you may find you’re able to rejoin the class in progress.
Those with past knee injuries and/or hip replacements are encouraged to participate in some sort of training to prevent further injury and balance the system. If you’ve had a recent injury, focus instead on recovery.
Ski and snowboard conditioning and injury prevention programming at the Vail Vitality Center is designed to pinpoint weak patterns of movement and strengthen those specific areas. This is a six-week program with classes three times per week starting this month. For information call 970-476-7960.
This program has started but we allow drop in plus you can sign up for a private conditioning program 3 sessions for $195! Call to sign up and check the schedule 970-476-7960.
Vail Vitality Center Director Jeff Morgan has over 20 years of experience in the fitness, wellness and training industries. He is a Certified Health Fitness instructor with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-HFI), a Titleist Performance Institute L2 Golf Fitness instructor, a Certified Trigger Point (Myofacial) M.A.T. therapist, a Kettle Bell Certified trainer, a TRX Certified trainer, a Peak Pilates MVE Certified trainer, and a Certified CYBEX service provider. He has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Morgan is an avid mountain biker, alpine skier, golfer and outdoor enthusiast. He lives in the Vail Valley with his wife and two children.