By CONNIE ARONSON
Get Out the Door. Although it's a few short weeks before the mountain opens, you can still build the strength, power, coordination, balance and agility needed for the demands of skiing. A strong cardiovascular base will make your time on the mountain one of ease and fun, rather than screaming thighs.
Dynamic Balance. Skiing is dynamic. You tip a ski (or board) onto its edge, balance your weight over that edge, and then the ski turns. Easy. A great skier looks relaxed and fluid because their awareness of body movements and balance uses less energy to allow the ski to edge. Stand on one foot for one minute, progress to standing on a BOSU, a half ball, (www.bosu.com), or a square of foam. Have a partner throw you a ball from various directions.
Have A Seat on the Wall. This will help your legs go and go so they won't store lactate. Position your back and head against a wall and walk your feet out approximately two feet. Drop slowly until your thighs are parallel to the ground to best mimic a ski turn position. Burst upward—for 20 repetitions.
Have a Ham. Your hamstrings are the prime movers of thigh extension and knee flexion, just what you do to flex and extend in a ski turn. Avoid becoming an ACL victim by strengthening your hamstrings, so your knee isn't twisting in a turn. A single-leg squat is an excellent strength exercise for the hams and gluteal muscles, as well as 8-inch bench "step-ups."
Delve Deep, Core Deep. Think of a tight abdominal corset wrapping around your middle. These core muscles are the deepest layers of muscle in your body that stabilize your pelvis and spine. Strong core muscles are an essential foundation in any sport, and anytime of day is a good time to do 2 or 3 sets of 15 repetitions. Lie on your back, with one leg bent, the other slightly extended along the floor. With your hands interlaced behind your neck, peel your head, neck and shoulder blades off the floor, count to 2, and slowly lower back to the floor.
Be Boot Ready. The small muscles of your ankles and feet are essential in steering and edging. Practice dumbbell standing-calf raises by starting with a dumbbell in your right hand, your left hand on a wall and rise up onto the ball of your foot, keeping your torso and knee straight, and lower your heel back to the floor, for 15 repetitions. Repeat on the other leg. Also practice this calf exercise in a bent-knee ski stance position. Wear your new ski boots in the house for 20 minutes pre-ski-season to prevent plastic-boot trauma after a summer of wearing flip-flops.
Connie Aronson is American College of Sports Medicine certified and an IDEA Elite personal trainer. She works at Koth Sports Physical Therapy in Ketchum.