Well rested after Turkey Day? Now that you’re back at the gym , time to add a new exercise to your routine getting you ready for the slopes.
Here is the third in our series of four basic exercises to improve strength and get ready for hitting the slopes. Remember, these four exercises target primary leg muscles used in skiing and snowboarding (your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip abductors) with a conscious effort to focus on exercises that could be easily performed in the home with minimal equipment.
As always, before you start any exercise program make sure you’re healthy enough to start it safely and if you have any questions/doubts or medical conditions you should check with your MD first before you rock and roll.
Side Lunges: The third exercise is the side lunge. It is an excellent exercise for the slopes that effectively targets your hip abductors, hip adductors, quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings in one workout.
The Set Up: Find an open area in your home to accommodate this exercise, preferably in an area with enough space to accommodate moving side to side without hitting anything. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
The Exercise: Standing with your feet shoulder width apart (start/end position) you are going to take a step with your right leg out to the right side almost as far as you can (midstance position). You can place your right foot slightly turned out. You are going to transition your weight over your right leg while lowering your body down towards the ground as low as you can by bending your right knee when you are descending while maintaining your left knee extended. Once the bend in your right knee is at or beyond 90 degrees, you are going to return to a standing position returning your right leg to a shoulder-width distance. That is one rep. Perform ten times lunging out with the right leg followed by ten times lunging out to the side with the left leg to make one set.
Try to perform three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
The Cues: Some things to watch out for:
1) You must step out far enough with your leg to accommodate the depth of your lunge, the lower the lunge the further the step.
2) Maintain an upright trunk position and avoid bending at the waist when going down into the lunge.
3) Keep your trunk back to prevent loading the toes and knee when going into the lunge.
4) Maintain the opposite leg as straight as possible.
5) Don’t just slide your knee out over your toes to go deeper, but actively attempt to lower your body straight down towards the ground.
The Mods: Some modifications you can use to reduce/progress the exercise.
1) Change the depth. If this exercise is challenging, in the beginning, a quick adjustment would be to not step out as far to decrease the depth you can squat. Attempt a distance that makes you feel like you’re working but not so low that you feel pain. In the beginning, it may be useful to put something down (a footstool or yoga block) in between your legs as a handhold to maintain your balance for when you are lowering down. As you get stronger, lower the size of the object.
2) To make the exercise more challenging you can add weights to your hands or challenge your balance more when you return to the upright position instead of immediately returning the striding leg to the start position you can kick it into the air and then slowly, maintaining control, you can lower it back down into the midstance position.
The Issues: There are a variety of issues that people can experience with this exercise, but a few of the more common are:
Weakness in the hips can contribute to the knee pointing in on the stride leg creating more pain in the knee.
Weak quadriceps can increase pain and pressure along the kneecap into the patella tendon just below the knee.
Decreased mobility in the ankles can lead all the issues as mentioned above.
Decreased glute strength can lead to greater use of the lumbar spine muscles potentially creating low back soreness.
Weakness in the hip adductors can lead to decreased stride length and depth throughout the exercise.
If you are having difficulty figuring this exercise out or are experiencing pain that you would describe as being more than just out of shape, give us a call and we can give you a free screening to see if there are some underlying muscle imbalances that may be contributing to your issues.
Check back next week for our next blog post in our new Getting Ready for Skiing and Snowboarding: Exercises and Tips Blog Series!