Protecting your knees from skis
If you haven’t started to work on your ski muscles, you’d better do it now. December is upon us, and the snow isn’t far behind.
In the Sierra, the ski season is a long one – December through April – so you have a lot of time to use the muscles you build now. Getting a head start on training them will mean an easier time on the first day on the slopes.
One of the problems with exercising ski muscles is the extra exertion placed on the knees. Any bending or pressure placed on thigh or quadriceps muscles also places a lot of stress on knees.
Taking the time to ensure proper body placement before you bend those knees will put the main workload on your quadriceps, where it belongs.
“Wall sit,” for the quadriceps is one of the safest methods to strengthen the legs and the back. Slide down the wall into a sitting position and hold for a few seconds. Be sure you have a wall that you can slide on easily. Slide back up and bring one knee at a time up to your chest. Increase your time in the sitting position until you can hold for 15 seconds. It is not easy!
Another method to strengthen quadriceps is to kneel on a mat and lean back. Do the lean back slowly and concentrate on holding, instead of bouncing. The use of weights on the ankles while you do leg lifts will add muscle and strengthen all parts of the leg, depending on which way you turn your knee. You can do leg work sitting in a chair with the same weights on your ankles.
The main concern with knees is doing weight-bearing exercises while your knees are past a right angle. Then the knee becomes weaker and more susceptible to damage.
If you do floor lunges for stretching and strengthening, be sure your knee doesn’t go past the toe of your shoe. Slide back until you have the main body weight over your heel. Standing lunges are done with the weight of the body on the front, extended knee, not the back.
Remember to keep “soft knees” and don’t lock into a straight-leg position. Don’t forget to stretch your quadriceps muscles after you work on them. If you tear a thigh muscle, you will be out of skiing for the season.
• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.