Many of us have a big ski trip planned over the holidays. Or, maybe you want to play shinny over the weekend. But is your body ready?
Even while you’re at work, you can reduce your risk of injuring yourself doing these activities. If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, get up and move around at least once every hour. Try to incorporate a few dynamic exercises during these breaks to keep your muscles active throughout the day. This will contribute to healthier movement during times of activity.
This is just one way to help prevent injury—something we should be mindful of at this time of year, when we’re typically less active due to shortened days and poor weather. Plus, the holiday season can be chaotic. Sometimes, we end up leaving exercise for the weekends—and this can be problematic if our bodies aren’t adequately prepared for our activity of choice, be it skiing, snowboarding or skating.
To prevent injury, hit the gym and perform preventive maintenance.
1. Work your entire body
Full-body exercises like squats and lunges improve muscle control, overall strength and mobility. Plyometrics are exercises that rapidly stretch and contract the muscle, like an explosive jump. They teach you how to land safely and thus improve joint stability. A strong core improves balance and stability, which can prevent falls during activity.
2. Warm up properly
A dynamic warm-up is a great way to prepare your body for activity. It consists of movements designed to loosen tight muscles, increase blood flow and activate your nervous system. In addition, dynamic stretching warms up the joints, maintains current flexibility and reduces muscle tension—all of which can reduce your chance of injury.
3. Go slow
Progress gradually through a warm-up, with enough intensity to increase muscle and core temperature. Include a variety of exercises that will help stimulate the major muscle groups throughout your body and mimic movements in your activity. The exercises below are good ones to include. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions and two sets of each exercise.
- Stand tall and extend your arms straight out in front of you with your palms down and feet flat on the ground.
- Engage your core, bend your knees and drive your hips back, making sure to keep your back straight.
- Keep your shins vertical and imagine sitting down in a chair.
- Return to starting position and squeeze your glutes at the top.
- Get into a push-up position with your feet together and legs straight.
- Squeeze your butt and engage your core to neutralize your hips.
- Drive your knees one at a time toward your chest in a controlled motion.
- From a standing position, step out laterally to the right.
- Drive your hips back and bend your right knee to 90 degrees.
- Keep your toes pointed straight and feet flat.
- Ensure your right knee does not extend over your toes.
- Return to a standing position and repeat on the opposite side.