After five weeks of skiing/snowboarding preparation skills/drills, we are going to concentrate on five essential stretches you should be performing regardless which winter sport floats your boat. Flexibility is one of the five components of physical fitness and may improve overall performance by enhancing your range of motion and fluidity of movement.
While there are hundreds of stretches possible, we will focus upon five essentials to perform regularly. We also recommend performing self-myofascial release, with a foam roller or myotherapy ball, prior to stretching (check out the Myofascial Release column at skyhidailynews.com). As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
*Hold all stretches statically (i.e. no bouncing) to a point of tension, never pain, for 15-30 seconds. Repeat on both sides where applicable. You may perform these stretches daily following a thorough warm-up.
Supine Lumbar Spine/ Hamstrings/Glutes/Gastrocnemius Stretch
-Begin lying supine on the floor with the head/neck in neutral, legs flexed at the knee joint, and knees pointing toward the ceiling, soles of the feet on the floor.
-With both hands underneath the knee, draw the right knee toward the chest.
-Extend the right leg toward the ceiling, keeping both hips on the floor, until the leg is straight (your point of comfort at the knee joint), driving the heel toward the ceiling.
Kneeling Hip Flexors/Hip Adductors/Pectoralis/Anterior Deltoids Stretch
-Kneeling, bring the right leg forward, right foot on the floor, right knee over right heel, extend the left leg back (i.e. trailing) until the left hip is opened, left knee resting on the floor with the toes tucked under. *Think of creating a diagonal line from the right knee to the left knee.
-With torso tall, interlace the fingers of both hands behind the back, pressing the knuckles toward the floor, opening the chest and the front of the shoulders.
Quadruped Cat/Cow - Cervical to Lumbar Spine/Torso Stretch
-Kneeling, place the palms on the floor under the shoulders, knees under the hips, entire spine in neutral.
-Hollow out the abdomen, arching the back toward the ceiling like a cat arching its back, spreading the shoulder blades, tucking the tail bone under, allowing the head to suspend downward.
-Then, release, with control, into a cow position with the head and tailbone up to your point of comfort in the lumbar spine.
Standing Quadriceps/Hip Flexors/Tibialis Anterior/Dorsal Foot Stretch
-Begin standing next to a ballet barre, facing sideways, left side next to barre.
-Place the body weight into the left foot as you bring the right foot toward your buttocks, holding onto the right foot with the right hand
-Thighs should be parallel to one another.
-Press the pubic bone forward, keeping the torso upright, opening the chest with the knee cap facing the floor.
-Avoid "pulling" on the foot, just push the foot into the hand.
Standing Hip Abductor/IT Band/Lateral Torso Stretch
-Begin in the same position as in the quadriceps stretch detailed above.
-Cross the right leg over the left leg (outside leg over inside) and lean the body into the barre with the inside leg straight, knees relaxed, and pressing the inside hip into the barre.
-Then, reach the right arm upward and over the head toward the barre, keeping the arm extended.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.