• Are you ready?

    ski season is almost here, and now is the time to prepare
  • Whether you've been sitting on the couch since the days got short or raising your heart rate regularly, your muscles are going to be in for a jolt when you reintroduce them to your favorite winter sport.
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    • Important Tip
      Next time you start to tire on a ski tour, reach for your water bottle.
      "The dry air and high altitude are dehydrating," says Ashland chiropractor David Heller, "but we have to remind ourselves...
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      Important Tip
      Next time you start to tire on a ski tour, reach for your water bottle.

      "The dry air and high altitude are dehydrating," says Ashland chiropractor David Heller, "but we have to remind ourselves to drink

      in the cold."

      Physical performance and energy levels decline with even slight dehydration.
  • Whether you've been sitting on the couch since the days got short or raising your heart rate regularly, your muscles are going to be in for a jolt when you reintroduce them to your favorite winter sport.
    A conditioning program can keep that jolt from turning into a strained leg muscle or a twisted knee, while addressing key muscle groups you will need to explode off moguls, kick and glide on snow-covered roads, telemark in the back country or carve the corduroy on a snowboard.
    We asked three local experts — a personal trainer, a chiropractor and a massage therapist — to share a few of their favorite ski-conditioning exercises that prevent common injuries.
    The experts agree that your body is at its most vulnerable on your first ski days before muscle memory kicks in. If you are a downhill skier, start on moderate slopes; if you are a cross-country skier, avoid the hills the first time out.
    Darcy Kleiman on Stamina & Strength
    "Conditioning gets the body firing and gets you ready to ski," says Talent personal trainer Darcy Kleiman, owner of Take It Outside Fitness. Kleiman recommends a conditioning program that includes six days a week of cardio training for at least 20 to 30 minutes. For starters, climb stairs, hike up a hill or try the gym's elliptical cross trainer or treadmill. Add strength training two or three times a week and "give your body a rest day in between strength-training sessions," says Kleiman. "Strength training on cold muscles increases the tendency to pull something."
    Start in slow motion and warm up with these power-packed moves:
    Exaggerated ski motion
    Balance on a slightly bent right leg; bend left knee and bring left foot toward your butt. Switch legs. Increase intensity by bending the forward leg as deeply as you can go, without the knee extending over the foot, and adding a little jump.
    Speed-skater motion
    Spring sideways onto a bent right leg while dropping the left leg behind the right leg with left knee bent and left foot pointed right. Pause momentarily, then explode off your right leg onto a bent left leg. Repeat. Hold bent arms close together in front of you and use them to propel you from side to side.
    Strong leg muscles can prevent knee injuries that occur at day's end when flagging muscles can't hold proper ski form. Build muscle endurance with two to three sets of 15 repetitions each of the following moves. Add push-ups and dips to avoid aching arms after a day of poling or falling.
    Squats
    Place feet hip-distance apart. With torso forward, back flat and chest lifted, squat as low as your range of motion allows. Keep knees lined up with toes. Exhale and pull in core muscles as you rise.
    Walking lunge
    Bend right knee and stretch left leg behind you with your weight on the heels of the forward foot and the ball of the back foot. Dip left knee close to, but not touching, the floor. Don't extend forward knee beyond toes. Straighten and balance on right leg before advancing with left leg and repeating the motion.
    Lateral lunge
    Stand with feet together and hands clasped in front of you. Keep chest high, butt back and weight on heels as you take a big step sideways to the right. Bend right knee and straighten left leg. Push off with left leg to return to starting position. Repeat with opposite leg.
    David Heller on Stretching
    Ashland chiropractor David Heller stresses the need to stretch, and he recommends stretching when muscles are still warm from exercise.
    "One of the challenges of skiing is you sit in your car, then you jump out and exercise and, when you are all hot and tired, you sit in your car again," he says.
    Muscle strains to the hip flexors (the muscle group that lets you raise and turn your leg) and the groin muscles (the inner thigh muscles that work to keep your skis together) are common ski injuries caused by overly tight muscles.
    Hip flexor/quad stretch
    Stand straight with feet hip-width apart using a wall for support. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand while keeping your thighs lined up next to each other. Tilt your pelvis forward slightly until you feel a gentle tug. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat on right side.
    Inner-thigh stretch
    Sit with knees apart and feet together. Pull heels toward groin and use your elbows to push your knees toward the floor.
    Leslie Moehle on Stability
    Contracting abdominal and lower back muscles, commonly called core muscles, enhances balance during this deceptively simple exercise that Ashland massage therapist Leslie Moehle is using to prepare for ski season. Stability and a strong core can lessen your chances of falling and soften the falls you do take.
    "When your core is engaged, you fall differently — more controlled," says Moehle.
    Stand with your back straight and knees slightly bent. Balance on a bent right leg while raising your left leg in front of you. Torso straightens while right arm goes back and left arm comes forward. Remain balanced on right leg while you move left leg back, bend torso slightly forward and alternate arms. Balance on right leg while shifting left leg forward and back 12 times. Change legs. For a more challenging pose, bend knees deeper.
    Stand with your back straight and knees slightly bent. Balance on a bent right leg while raising your left leg in front of you. Torso straightens while right arm goes back and left arm comes forward. Remain balanced on right leg while you move left leg back, bend torso slightly forward and alternate arms. Balance on right leg while shifting left leg forward and back 12 times. Change legs. For a more challenging pose, bend knees deeper.
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