Be Fit to Ski

A Complete Guide to Alpine Skiing Fitness

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Readership Questions

Posted by srkramer@hotmail.com on November 15, 2018 at 2:25 PM

I'll do my best to answer the thoughtful questions asked by one of my readers.

1. Are you working on or considering on a Second Edition? You did a really good job of annotating the book and it would be nice to update it with the latest research. Maybe a project for 2020?

Be Fit to Ski: I considered a 2nd edition as soon as I had finished this book. However, completing this book took a tremendous amount of time, which I don't really have now. I have thought of other platforms to continue the work such as a phone app or handbook with QR codes for exercises. I'm also in the planning stages of a ski-fitness seminar for 2019 to be held in Pennsylvania, working with the owner of Nittany Custom Fitness.

2. What are your thoughts on proprioceptive training? I understand this is a hot topic for elite athletes in other sports. Are elite skiers training this way? What are your suggestions for proprioceptive training?

Be Fit to Ski: This is a great question and agreed, a hot topic not because it's controversial but because it's effective. I have seen footage of elite skiers and elite athletes using proprioceptive exercises to supplement other types of exercise. Let me explain what it is first before making any suggestions.

The body has many (!) sensory receptors, called proprioceptors, whose job it is to "sense" and coomunicate to the brain where our body is in space. Snesory receptors tell the brain when the ground is slippery or rocky or tilted. The messages travel to the brain which then sends electrical impulses to fire muscles with intent. Intent to avoid slipping or to engage in slipping. Intent to resist being pulled down a slope or to allow gravity to pull us. Through time and repetition, we develop an habitual way of reacting to the physical world around us and sometimes these habits are detrimental to the overall health of our joints. For instance, when landing a jump or flexing to pre-jump, many young athletes allow the knee to fall excessively to the inside rather than to make it track over the toes. Overtime, this becomes habit and at some point in time, the ligaments just can't suppport that torque and the ACL tears. Proprioceptive exercises done properly help to re-train the messsaging so that the muscles contract in ways that keep connective tissue intact. 

Suggestions for Proprioceptive Training: Yes, video is worth many words and there's a ton of free video on youtube. My recommendation is to improve balance on one foot; do anything on one foot. First establish the ability to stay in balance on each foot for 1 minute. I chose to use the Yoga Tree Pose for this. When you can do it for 1 minute, close your eyes and add on another minute. This is tough to do because we take in so much information from our vision. Once this is accomplished, add instability underfoot: Stand on a BOSU ball, hop, squat, make circles with the other leg, cook a meal on one foot. While you're doing this pay attention to form. Keep enough muscluar tension on the standing leg to prevent the ankle and knee from rolling inward. This is where the re-training happens. Studies have shown that those who have injured the ACL can prevent re-injury through the implementation of proprioceptive exercises. Personally speaking, when I tore up my ankle last summer from trail running, these types of exercises were crucial to getting back on the trail this summer and fall. Hope this helps! 

As always, keep it fun and you'll get fit.

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