By Sergio Florian, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Living in Hawaii, we are fortunate enough to be blessed with good weather year round. Unfortunately, our temperate climate provides very little opportunity to train for the classic winter sports such as snowboarding or skiing. If your favorite winter sport is surfing, then you are right at home; but if you plan to spend some time on the slopes this winter, travel will be a necessity. Either way, most of us are too busy to surf and too far from the snow to ride every day. Here are some exercises you can do at home to prepare in order to perform at your best—and more importantly, to avoid injuries when you do finally get a chance to play.
Building your cardiovascular endurance will not only make your next surf/snow trip more enjoyable, but it will also help protect you from injuries. Check with your doctor before undertaking any strenuous workout to make sure you are healthy enough. The best way to start is with walking or light jogging. Start easy and increase your workout time or distance by 10% each week. This will help avoid injury. For example: Start with walking or running 20 minutes/day, 4-5 days a week. After the first week, you can increase to about 22 to 25 minutes, and so on. If you are new to running, take as many walking breaks as you need. The important thing is to just keep moving.
This will help maintain joint strength and keep you from getting hurt. Knee injuries are very common in winter sports, so it is important to strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your core, hips, knees and ankles. Here are a few simple exercises you can do while watching TV:
Balance is key, and a deficiency in this department is the leading cause of injuries when doing winter sports.
Stand with your feet together so they are touching. Balance in this position. Challenge yourself by closing your eyes. If this is too easy try:
The main thing to remember is to know your limits. Prepare yourself before your next trip and you will perform at your best, injury free, while having the time of your life.