Just as you can’t kick up to a perfect handstand before strengthening your core, enjoyable, injury-free skiing requires some prep work. O2 yoga instructor Alexa Kubica offers two yoga poses that help strengthen ski specific muscles
Chair Pose: Start with your feet together or hip-width distance apart. Bend your knees, sink your hips and sweep your arms to the sky. Find your weight mostly in your heels, and as you drop your hips to the ground, open and lift your chest. Take about eight full breaths as you ignite your quadriceps and hamstring muscles. To release, find a forward fold. Chair pose will help to strengthen not only your quadriceps and hamstrings, two major muscle groups you engage while skiing, but also your abdomen.
Plank: Start on your hands and knees. Step both feet back and straighten your legs. Your shoulders are stacked directly over your wrists, or they're slightly forward. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders and activate your quadriceps. Lengthen out through the top of your head and press your heels back. Plank helps strengthen your entire your body! You will mainly feel this invigorating pose in your core and shoulders. Hold for 10 full breaths and then lower down to the ground to rest. As you ski, it's important to find stabilization through your torso to enhance your balance.
Post skiing, there are many poses that can aid recovery. Here, two of Alexa’s favorites:
Lizard Lunge” Start in a runner's lunge with your right foot in front. Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand and lower your left knee down to the ground. You can keep both hands on the ground or lower down to your elbows to intensify the stretch in your left hip flexor. While skiing, your hips are in constant flexion, or engagement, and the muscle shortens. In lizard lunge, you begin to lengthen your hip flexor which may feel extremely tight after a long day of skiing! Hold for two minutes before switching to the other leg.
Spinal Twist: Start by lying on your back. Pull your right knee into your chest and then draw it across your body over to your left. Place your left hand on the top of your right knee and open your right arm out. Drop your right knee towards the ground as you press your right shoulder into the ground. In this spinal twist, you will increase spinal mobility and release your back muscles. You’ll also gain flexibility in your right glute. Hold for two minutes and then untwist and switch to the other leg.
During all of these poses, the most important part is to focus on your breath. Maintain steady and smooth inhales and exhales, which will facilitate a deeper stretch.
O2 Spa Director Trey Barnes offers some post-skiing recovery tips, too.
First thing I do is drink a glass of water. Being on the hill all day can leave you dehydrated. Next, roll out your feet for two minutes with a Vibe Roller, lacrosse or tennis ball. While laying on your back, bring a knee to your chest, hold for a minute then bring the knee across the body for a minute. Repeat on the other side. If you have time do another rounds and hold for 2 minutes each. Then to get some pressure off the knees, simply sit on your heels and lean back until your palms are on the ground. Lift the hips up and hold as long as comfortable, repeat as often as you'd like. With a foam roller of your choice (two rolled up towel will work as well) place the roller across your shoulder blades, hips stay on the ground, arms over your head. Hold for 30 seconds the first round, then one minute. Focus on nice, controlled yoga breathing throughout the movements.