Dec
10
2010
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This month I want to make sure to have those of you who enjoy winter sports activities like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating to be prepared to enjoy your season.  I can't tell you how many times I watch "regular" members come in on crutches after a weekend away of enjoying their sport.  If it's something you truly enjoy, then let's make sure you can do and not get injured. The whole idea of working out and keeping healthy is so you can participate and enjoy the activities that make the daily grind all worth it -- right?

Well, last week I shared with you the first part of an effective warm-up -- self-massage.  We all know you cannot effectively stretch a cold rubber band fresh out of the refrigerator (which would represent your muscles).  You have to first warm it up properly, before engaging in stretching.  That way you can avoid injuring yourself during stretching, and definitely decrease the chances of injury while engaged in your favorite activity.

This week I want to share with you the second part of an effective warm up -- stretching.  I want you to do this after you have completed the self-massage.

When considering winter sports we want to be sure we have your body ready to handle the pounding of the slopes.  Balance is a big factor considering the instability of ice and snow.  So ankle, knee, and hip flexibility and stability are very important. We want to prepare your entire body, for sure, but we will give extra attention to the lower body because you will be using it so much more.

Since we all know time is of the essence please find below the stretches I've found most important in preparing for a safe and fun winter season of activities on the slopes or ice.

Be sure to check back next week as I will share with you the important exercises that will get your body strong and help you avoid injury.

This is Stretch#1 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds


This is Stretch #1 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.  Hold for 7-10 seconds.


 
This is Stretch #1 (3/3).
Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side. 
Hold for 7-10 seconds
 

This is Stretch #2
From a seated position place your hands behind you, approximately shoulder width, with your fingers pointing away from your body. Slowly slide your body forward, away from your hands, until a stretch is felt. Be sure to keep your chest up and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift your chest. Hold this position for 7-10 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


 

This is Stretch#3.

(face down image) Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.  Hold position for 7 breaths.



(face up image)

This is a slightly less aggressive form of pigeon from the lying position. Lay flat on your back.  Bring your right leg towards your chest. Grasping your knee and ankle gently, pulling the leg towards the left side of your chest (so you are moving the leg across the body) until you feel a stretch in your glutes. You will create a very gentle stretch in the hip. You should feel no pain in the knee. Repeat this process 3-7 times on both sides.



 

This is Stretch #4

Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.  Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.



This is Stretch #5.
I call this Windshield Wipers. Lay flat on your back, arms out wide, knees bent 45-90 degrees, feet flat on the ground. Take your left ankle and place it on your right knee. Drop both legs to the left side to feel a stretch in the right hip. The goal is for the stretch to come from the hip and NOT the lower back.
Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.


This is Stretch #6.
With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.


Well there you go.  So self massage first, followed by the stretches above and you'll be ready to tackle the exercises I will show you next week.  Remember, each part of the warm-up is important.  Do not skip steps, you'll only pay for it in the long run. 

Let's be sure this season you can enjoy your chosen winter activity for all it's worth.  See you next week.