Carving through fresh pow, or that trick in the park.. Winter is coming soon, and it’s time to get your body and mind ready for it.
Snowboarding requires not only a lot of leg strength, but also stability and flexibility, to have the most fun out there. Yoga and Pilates, which combine core strength with stability and flexibility training, is a really important factor, that the pros swear by.
Terje Haakonsen, 39, Quarter Pipe World Record Holder & Creator of the Haakon flip, says “I wouldn’t still be a professional snowboarder at the level I am , if I hadn’t taken care of my body with yoga. Most other sports break my body down. Yoga builds my body up and wakes up all the little muscles sot that all of the parts are working together as a team.”
Also David Carrier- Procheron (DCP) and Christie Prior, swear by the awareness and body-mind connection Yoga bring. DCP: “It is helping me be more flexile in my body, but also with life’s circumstances, such as friends dying in an avalanche.”
Steph Prem, former Olympic Snowboarder, swears by Pilates for injury prevention but also rehabilitation if something has gone wrong.. which it unfortunately does a lot if you like to go hard.
So why is Yoga and Pilates so good as a preparation for the winter season?
Pilates trains the core muscles to help maintain the dynamic balanced postures essential for safe and efficient riding. It helps counteract the twists and turns, and improves the ability to get up unscatered when you do take a tumble.
Yoga will help you increase the range of motion you need to move loose and fluid on the mountain, while strengthening the body in those “awkward” positions.
A training pre- season can not only make dramatic improvements for your injury prevention, but also allow you to generate more speed on or off piste, and the body to move more efficiently.
Here are a few of the favourite poses to get you board- ready:
When warming up the body with sun salutations, which is also a great thing to do in those winter mornings, before heading up the hill, stay in
- Chair Pose for a little longer. This will strengthen your quads, while developing core control. For that, bend your knees, feet and knees squeeze together. Engage your core (explained in more detail in the box). Hold. Start with 15 seconds, build up.
Especially important for your carving.
In Chair Pose: Come onto your toes. Balance for 3-15 seconds. Release the heels. Repeat 3x. This will help you gain more ankle strength and resulting edge control.
2. Warrior 3: strengthens your butt and back, while improving your balance and hamstring flexibility. Make sure you keep your hips parallel to the ground, engaging your legs and core at the same time.
|3. Box: How to “engage your core”
This is the mother of all exercises. Only if you master this, will you get the most benefit from your other exercises. By strengthening your “deep core muscles”, which consist of pelvic floor muscles, Transverse Abdominis, Diaphragm and Multifidus, your whole body will be able to absorb shocks better and distribute forces more efficiently, hence becoming less prone to injury, and a greater ability to generate speed and power.
Step 1: Lie on your back, with the knees bent and feet hip width apart. Your spine should be in a “neutral” arc – you should be able to slide your hand under your lower spine. Now as you breathe out, gently contract your pelvic floor muscles (as if you have to go pee, but have to hold it up). And pull the navel gently down to the spine, and slightly up towards your head. You should feel a tightening just inside your hip bones, and the feeling of a “corset” pulling tight around your spine. Keep breathing while you try and keep that tension for up to 30 seconds. So, where are you supposed to breathe into now? No more space in the belly? That’s right, you shouldn’t breathe into your chest either, as that promotes feelings of anxiety. So, where to with the breath? Into the side of the ribcage! You have to feel like you are broadening your ribcage to the sides as you inhale. Then let it go as you exhale.
Step 2: Roll up. Keeping your “core engaged” and the navel down towards the mat, roll your head and shoulders up slightly. Make sure the belly doesn’t come up. Hold for 7 seconds. Repeat 3 x. To make it harder, lift the legs.
These are the basics. But to make it functional and relating to riding, incorporate this into all your strength yoga and pilates moves, ideally also during riding. Keep it relaxed while stretching. J
- Side plank (advanced: with rotations): Engage your core while you do it! This will help your control during rotations in the park.
- Modified Clam: Lie on your side, heels together and slightly behind the line of your body. Keeping the heels together and the core and hips straight, lift the top knee up, lower. 15 x each side. You should feel a burn in your butt. If you don’t, you might be cheating with your hip. Make sure it is perpendicular to the mat, and does not move. This strengthens your butt muscles, which help navigate the forces from legs to the core.
6. Bridge (Advanced: Wheel): Opens and stretches the whole of your front body. Chest, Hipflexors, Thighs. And at the same time strengthens the back, butt and hamstrings. Press your heels into the ground, as if you were going to push them away from you. Knees stay straight on top of your ankles, don’t allow them to drop in or out. Contract your core gently to avoid pressure and pain in your lower back. Stay for at least 5 breaths.
7. Half Pigeon and Pigeon with Quad Opener: This is my favourite stretch in the end of each training, or after a long day of riding. It opens your hips, quads and chest at the same time. Be gentle with yourself here, don’t force it. It will loosen up eventually by itself.
If you are not quite sure how to do these, or if you specific painful or injured areas, just shoot me a mail and we can discuss your options!