Fit For Snow: Improve Your Balance to Protect Your Joints on the Slopes
Varying temperatures and snowfall can make for challenging conditions, so how do you look after your joints in sometimes unpredictable snow conditions?
The first step is to make sure you are balanced. The more centered you are, the further you can be displaced by external forces (like a chunky piece of snow) and still be able to stay on your feet. That means finding a neutral spine and pelvis position and activating your core.
Practice this postural sequence from Fit to Snow five times daily to improve your balance.
1. Stand sideways to a mirror without your shirt on. Your back should have two curves: slightly outward or convex at your shoulders and upper back, and slightly inward or concave in your lower back. Imagine that someone is pulling up on your hair and stand tall to smooth out the curves in your spine. If you have back pain, it should feel better as you increase the space between your discs.
2. Check that your pelvis is underneath you by placing your hands on your hip bones. When you look down, your pubic bone should be in the same plane as your hip bones (not behind as most women stand or in front as most men do). You can use this technique to check your posture at any time. Check your posture each time you do your standing tall exercise. If your pelvis is aligned correctly, you will be able to generate a lot more strength with your glutes and leg muscles.
3. Use your core to hold your correct posture. Do this by drawing your lower abdomen in and up slightly. Your muscles should tighten without any hollowing or bracing. Make sure you can still take a deep breath and move your rib cage (it should only be your lower abdomen doing the work). You need to be able to move freely to ski and ride, so consider this home base. This is the posture your body should go to if you catch an edge or a change in snow conditions pitches you. This way, you will be ready to regain your balance.
4. The final step is to add the pelvic floor. The easiest way to learn how to contract your pelvic floor is to stop the flow when urinating. Once you know how the movement feels, you can practice it any time. Do five slow contractions, holding each for five seconds, and then 10 fast contractions. When lifting something heavy, shoveling or setting up for a jump, activate your pelvic floor for increased strength and stability.
Practice this when you are waiting for your toast in the morning, when you are brushing your teeth, when you are riding an elevator and every time you get off a chairlift when you are out skiing and riding.
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