Here’s a typical ski/snowboard day scenario.
It’s a cold morning in winter. You wake up early, roll into your long johns, grab a coffee and load into the car.
And then you drive.
Arriving at the resort, you boot up. You gear up. You queue up for the lift, gliding off at the top and onto your favorite run. Then, you ski and ride the rest of the day, hard charging to get the most out of every hour.
There’s nothing wrong with this scenario. Many of us live it every weekend.
But did you know, that by adding just five minutes to your routine, you can improve your skiing or riding and your overall health? Seriously. Just five minutes.
The Importance of Warming Up
Warming up your muscles, tendons and mind is a crucial component of athletic performance and long-term health.
It doesn’t matter if you’re snowboarding, skiing, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, golfing, swimming or running (or whatever else you do), taking just a few minutes for an active warm up will make you a better athlete.
- Warming up loosens your muscles and joints. It’s like oiling the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.
- Warming up gets you focused. It’s like changing the channel in your brain from scattered “to-do” list to “let’s ride!”
- Warming up gets the blood pumping, which means more oxygen and nutrients circulating to your muscles.
- Warming up increases heart and respiratory rates, easing you in for a full day of activity.
- Warming up warms you up. Purposefully moving your body builds heat. This is especially important for avoiding injury on cold days.
An Easy Six Move Warm Up for Everyone (and Every Sport)
Two years ago, we learned this warm up from a ski instructor who does it religiously.
He taught us to do this warm up at the top of the lift, before the day’s first run — not in the parking lot, not at home or in the condo — but at the top of lift.
Why? Because riding up the lift is passive and, usually, cold. You may arrive stiffer at the top of the mountain that you started out at the bottom.
If stopping at the top of the lift to warm up doesn’t work for you, don’t worry. Just do the warmup wherever you are and whenever you can.
Move #1: Leg Swings
Stand tall, using your ski poles for support if desired. Moving through the hip joint, swing a straight leg forward at full extension. Then swing it backward. Pendulum this leg back and forth until it loosens up. Then switch legs.
Move #2: Hurdle Steps
With your shoulders facing forward, raise one leg up to 90°. Rotate the leg to the outside and place the foot down. Reverse the motion using the same leg. Move it up to 90°, rotate it back to the front and place the foot down.
You can repeat this motion using the same leg or alternate legs for a few more reps.
Move #3: Core Crunch
Stand tall. In one motion, bring your your left elbow down and your right knee up, crunching the core. Alternate with the other elbow and knee. Aim for 10-15 core crunches.
Move #4: Toe Touches
Raise your arms above your head. Bend at the waist and touch the toes. Rise up halfway and bend to the left to touch the left toes with both hands. Rise up halfway again and bend to the right to touch the right toes with both hands. Stand up halfway and then rise up to repeat the sequence.
Move #5: Back Loosener
Keep your shoulders and head pointed forward as you rotate your back to the left and then the right. Keep going until you feel loose.
Move #6: Arm Circles
With your arms outstretched, make little circles going forward. Then make little circles going backward. Repeat on both sides with big circles.
Make This Warm Up Your Own
I realize that it’s a pretty tall order to ask you to insert this routine into an already busy winter morning. I also realize that some days you may not have the time to go through this entire sequence.
Even if you take just 1-2 minutes to swing your legs and arms, it will pay off. If you can do the whole routine for just five minutes, it will pay off big time.
But give yourself a break. As an old song goes, “a little bit is better than nada.”