We’ve established it’s a good idea to start getting some flexibility before trying jumping squats off your bed. The exercises here are aimed at the major muscle groups used when skiing. It’s by no means a definitive list and if you have your own stretches you already find effective, stick with them. At this stage we’re doing ‘developmental stretches’, which differ from the warm-up stretches that you might do before playing sport. Developmental stretches are generally held 30-60 seconds, the aim being to increase the working length of the muscle for an extended period of time, i.e. to keep your flexibility.
Bear these points in mind when stretching:
Bring the stretch on slowly, as soon as you feel a gentle tension in the target muscle hold the stretch there. If, after a while you feel the tension ease as the muscle lengthens, gently increase the stretch until you feel a good tension again, and hold until the end of the stretch.
-Use your breathing.
Take a deep breath and as you breath out ‘sink’ further into the stretch to really increase your range.
-Vary the angle of your stretches.
When you stretch a large muscle such as the Hamstrings, say by reaching towards an outstretched leg, your body will try to take the path of least resistance. By that I mean your body will try to ‘cheat’ in order to make the stretch as easy as possible. In the case of the Hamstrings you may subconsciously turn your leg out as you stretch or bend your knee slightly to make it easier. By slightly varying the angle of some stretches you can find out where you’re really tight.
-Stretch little and often.
Stretching is most effective when done regularly. A minute or two here and there throughout the day works best and gets the muscles used to being lengthened.
And remember, the stretches you least like doing are probably the ones you should do most!
You can do all the stretches consecutively as a routine or individually throughout the day. Here they are demonstrated by consumate ski professional Paddy Graham!
Quadriceps stretch-front thigh:
Hamstring stretches-back thigh:
There are numerous ways to stretch the Hamstrings.
These are the muscles of your backside.
You can stretch your Gluts a similar way at your desk or in front of the TV. Just cross your legs and pull your top knee towards your opposite shoulder, jiggle the angle around until you feel a stretch in your Gluts.
You’re aiming to get a stretch on the front of your hips/top of thigh.
You should notice a significant improvement in your range of movement if you find time to stretch regularly, especially if you don’t stretch often. If you have any old injuries or health problems seek some expert advice before starting a program, there may be some exercises that are contraindicated.
Next time we’ll add to the program exercises aimed at improving balance and co-ordination as we build up towards the season. Now get stretching!
For any specific advice on stretching and mobility training or sport specific exercises get in touch with Peter Banister