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Fitness tip text, photos and demonstrations by Jenn Lockwood
Dorsiflexion at the ankle and leg rotation are the topics of this issues fitness tips! Brad Jacobson, shared with us how we activate the tibialis anterior to dorsiflex the ankle, helping to maintain equal angles at the ankles and shin to cuff contact when we ski, during our January training. Here is my favorite way to condition this muscle for the skiing – TOE TAPS. Our goal will be for muscle endurance of the tibialis anterior.Toe taps: Feet hip width apart, place the right foot ahead of the left, bend your knees and place both hands above your right knee (keeping the right foot anchored to the floor). Lift your right ball of foot up toward shin as high as you can (keeping your heel on the ground) and then tap your right foot to the floor, repeat – lifting your right ball of foot as high as you can and tapping it as fast as you can. Continue for 30-90 seconds, switch feet.
At Winter Blast, our group worked with National Team member, Matt Boyd on off-piste terrain. Our groups common deficiency on the steeps off-piste was to square our hips with our ski tips through the finish of our turns. Our focus to correct this inefficient movement was to relearn how to stabilize the hips (upper body) to facilitate tipping and steering of our legs from apex through finish of the turn – allowing us to better shape and manage pressure through the finish of the turn and allow our body to move over our equipment into the next turn initiation.
For a great article going over leg rotation refer to Help Your Legs Assert Their Independence by Robin Barnes in the Winter 2011, 32 Degrees, pages 74-79. Below are listed a few of my favorite exercises for strengthening muscles that facilitate leg rotation.Leg Rotations with paper plates and/or Fitter Discs: Standing in your athletic stance (feet hip to shoulder width apart) w/fitter discs placed under feet and standing in front of a mirror – perform the exercises that Robin describes on page 75. Tip: focus on stabilizing your hips (part of your upper body) and/or even rotating them in the opposite direction of your feet. These exercises will target the strengthening of the internal and external rotators of the legs with goal to facilitate the femurs turning in the hips socket while the hips are stabilized. Charlie Chaplain Pose: Rotate legs/femur to the right and left with opposing rotation at the hip and femur. Leg rotation may be limited due to tight hip & gluteal muscles – refer to Stretch Your Performance through Hip Flexibility by Robin Barnes in the Winter 2011, 32 Degrees, page 79. Sidelying clam shell with or without resistance: Lie completely on your side positioning the hips flexed at 60°, and the heels in alignment with the back. Slowly raise the top knee as high as possible while keeping both feet together, and keeping the back from moving with the knee. Lower the knee back down ¾ of the way so that there is constant tension. Place your hand on the muscle of the butt, and focus on creathing the contraction at the point of contact while performing the exercise. For added challenge you can add a resistance band around your thighs. Monster Walk (Hip Abduction w/superband): Begin in an athletic stance, rotate your legs outward and forward in large strides for 20 steps. Stay low. Repeat the movement moving backwards for 20 steps. Resistance Band Rotation: Assume a half-squat position and wrap a resistance band around your legs above the knees. Keeping your left leg stable and your hips and shoulders pointed forward, move your right knee back and forth. Switch legs. Go to the PEAK Fitness NW youtube page to see a demonstration of each of these exercises: www.youtube.com/PEAKfitnessNW.
Jennifer Lockwood is an Alpine Level III instructor and Trainer at Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort, Oregon, and a fitness trainer at Peak Fitness NW. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website: www.peakfitnessnw.com
Children’s Tip by Janet Shofstall
Sure this is just an advertising slogan yet it’s also helpful when teaching children. Think back to your own school days when there was a substitute teacher … you remember … I thought so; torment time. Kids have an innate sense of vulnerability and insecurity. Setting up the lesson atmosphere with safety, FUN and learning are key to a successful lesson.
We all know that creating a safe and comfortable environment are the beginnings of all great experiences. For now I want to get to the fun part. No surprise.
Think of teaching kids snowsports as an opportunity to be a kid again. Sure, we need to be professional and take the task seriously. The parents/guardians have bestowed upon us the hugest of responsibilities; we’re taking their kids out into a weird and wonderful, maybe new world.
Find a balance in how you interact between the more serious parent/teacher relationship and the more playful student/teacher relationship. With your young students be a leader, a ring leader. Essentially a ring leader is the fun director. A good fun director is also having fun, maybe the MOST fun of everyone. Allow yourself to be and act a little silly and ridiculous.
One of the highest compliments a child can give me is, “You’re funny.” So, get out there and be a little crazy with your next kids’ class. If you’re having fun it’s no sweat.[connections_list id=32 template_name=”div_staff_bio”]
Alpine Tip by Terry McLeod
Hopefully you have been involved in some type of regular exercise program to help you be in shape as soon as the hill opens, but whether you have or not, the early season is a great time to hone in on your conditioning as a foundation for the rest of the season. Often when ski areas first open they only offer a few green or blue runs which isn’t nearly as exciting as what we’d hoped for, but by making a few modifications to your skiing patterns you can turn this limited terrain into a great training venue.
Since these runs are pretty mellow there is less likelihood of pushing yourself too hard and pulling or straining muscles that are unfamiliar with skiing movements. This easier terrain gives you a chance to ski longer and gently build an endurance base. There are two ways to accomplish this: ski longer between stops, and ski longer hours than you would be able to on harder runs. By skiing with fewer stops or even non-stop runs you will both increase your muscle strength and subconsciously find a more efficient stance to ski with. If you have committed yourself to skiing the whole run but your legs are burning by halfway down, you will make adaptations to ease the strain on your muscles and become more efficient.
With the less challenging terrain your overall intensity will be lower which can allow you to ski later in the day with less risk of fatigue induced crashes. Although you don’t want to ski so much on the “boring” terrain that it leads to burnout earlier in the season, by spending more time on the easy runs now you can be in better shape to enjoy your favorite runs as the snow deepens.
Another training tip for reduced terrain is to make a type of turn other than what you naturally tend to do. Lots of short radius turns make the run last longer and require more exertion and therefore more muscle building. Skiing very slowly will challenge your subtle balancing movements and raise your awareness of stance and timing issues. Deliberately continuing turns further across the fall line than normal will push you into different duration and pacing of movements. All of these things will lead to increased versatility which means you’ll have a greater ability to adapt to whatever is thrown at you during the season.
While it’s probably not worth ditching work to come put these ideas into practice, perhaps it will provide a bit more value for early season terrain options and help you see the value of spending some focused time before the holidays, so that you can really maximize your ski days once the heart of the season is here. In the mean time keep lifting weights and stretching and we’ll see you on the hill soon.[connections_list id=12 template_name=”div_staff_bio”]