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It’s A Polar Vortex… Time To Get In Shape For Winter Sports!

Skistar Trysil/Flickr.

Winter sports season is in full swing, which means it’s time to lace up those skates, skis,snowshoes, and snowboards and get out there to make the most of it. Maybe you have a family trip planned, or a romantic getaway to the chalet, or maybe you just want to beat the winter blues with some adrenaline. Either way, you’ll need to train. Here are some exercises that will help you make the most of winter.

While cardiovascular endurance and lung capacity are important in most every sport, what sets winter sports apart is their dependence on specialized footwear. From skates to ski boots, chances are you’re not going out in regular sneakers. But boots and skates can be heavy, adding extra strain to the delicate tendons in the feet, ankles, calves, and quads. These ankle exercises should help. And so should these foot and ankle workouts from Runner’s World.

Knees can really take an extra beating in winter sports, given that activities like hockey and skiing can involve a lot of crouching. These knee exercises will help protect your joints by increasing flexibility. And while doing any type of exercise, it’s important to avoid locking the knee. Especially while performing lunges, try to keep the knees as much in line with the body as possible.

What can you do right now, in the gym and at home, to strengthen these muscles for winter sports?

  • Calf drops: stand on a stoop, stair-stepper, or other ledge, and let your ankles drop so that
    your calves stretch. Slowly raise them. Do this at least twelve times.
  • Single-leg hops: bring one knee up in line with the hips, and using the standing leg, hop clockwise out from centre and then back in again. Try to complete an entire “clock” by imagining your body as the center of the clock face, and your destinations as each number on the clock. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Lunges: keeping the front knee in line with the ankle and not pushing over it, push the back knee behind yourself and kneel down as deeply as you can. Now do the same thing diagonally, and on the other side.