The winter holiday is a perfect opportunity to go to the mountain resort, ski, or snowboard and to have an adventure worth stocking until the next December. We are here to tell you the exact Pilates exercises that will help to fulfill the program of the ski to the maximum, to reduce the risk of injury and to take riding skills to a new level.
Pilates is an excellent way to get that athletic edge during the colder months. First of all, Pilates exercises help to cope with rapid fatigue on skis, that is, you can ride longer and with great pleasure. The secret is that these exercises strengthen the core muscles – the deep abdominal muscles, back, and pelvis. That, in turn, eliminates the need to overextend other large muscle groups during skiing, for example, arms and legs, and promotes balanced distribution of the added stress to the whole body.
In addition, thanks to Pilates, trained deep muscles help to maintain balance and equilibrium at high speed and make turns softer and with less strain on the joints. Also, Pilates exercises purposefully strengthen abdominals and back, which is crucial for winter sports enthusiasts.
Other benefits of Pilates exercises for athletes and amateurs are:
- Correction of the spine position for greater stability while riding
- Strengthening and opening of hip flexors
- An increase in range of motion in the hips and shoulders
- Adding dynamics and force movement in general
- Strengthening inner thigh muscles to hold a parallel position of the feet
- Increased body flexibility
- Strengthening and stretch the back muscles
- Improvement of breathing technique
- Disclosure and strengthening the shoulder girdle, stress relief of the neck
- Reducing the load on the knee joint during the execution of flexion-extension elements while riding
- Increased concentration and improved performance overall.
The three best Pilates exercises, specially adapted to the needs of skiers and snowboarders, include exercises such as “The Shoulder Bridge,” “The Spine Twist,” and “The Hundred.”
The Shoulder Bridge
The time needed to perform: 5 -10 minutes for three repetitions in 2 modifications
Benefits: It releases lower back tension; improves the mobility of the lumbar spine; strengthens the buttocks and hamstrings; facilitates controlled, segmental mobilization of the lumbar and thoracic spine in flexion and extension.
Contraindications: Stop if you feel any lower back pain or shoulder pain when doing this exercise as well as discomfort or pain in the hips.
The performance technique:
- Start with lying on your back, legs long (pelvis wide), palms upward for a few moments to focus inwardly, to relax and adjust your lower back and pelvis to the neutral position. In the neutral pelvis, you will feel yourself resting on your right and left sacral bones.
- From your legs, use your heels on the mat to draw your feet softly about a foot from your sitting bones.
- Open your shoulder girdle, imagine your shoulder blades as wings unfurling and preparing for flight.
- Invite your spinal column to release, to elongate even more and reach the crown of your head and the sitting bones in opposite directions.
- Then inhale and stretch your knees forward and lift up your pelvis to draw one line between the shoulders and knees. Do not open your ribs too wide: keep the elongation of the spine and neutral lower back!
- Drop your belly button down and then put down your spine bone by bone starting with the thoracic spine and coccyx is the last.
- Modification: try with arms stretched backward: you may find it easier to articulate your thoracic spine. Be sure your upper body is relaxed, and you don’t have any tension in your neck!
- For pelvic stability: imagine the pelvis as a bowl of water you don’t want to spill any drop on the right or left side (your iliac bones).
- Use this exercise to improve your performance of the roll up: you can articulate the stiffest part at your lumbar and roll down and up more smoothly for the next time.
- Do it as slowly as you can, still keeping moving all the time. Imagine that you want to count both all your vertebras and the distances between them.
The Spine Stretch
Take a sitting position with hands in front of your body, shoulders down, the spine is extended upward from the coccyx to the crown, abs pulled in. Inhale, and as much as possible pulling the stomach into the back, as you exhale push the lower back far back while stretching your arms as far as possible forward. Return to starting position. Repeat 3-5 times.
Cold winter is the right time to get acquainted with the most famous exercise of the Pilates system – The Hundred. This exercise warms up the muscles of the whole body, stabilizes the pelvis and lower back, as well as strengthens the abdominal muscles.
The breathing- the inhale and the exhale for the Hundred are to the count of 5. So, there is a count of 5 for each inhale and also a count of 5 for each exhale all the way to 100.
A few moments regarding the position of your legs: be sure to stay in the neutral spine (with no shift of the pelvis). Start with your legs out straight and then with your heels on the mat, draw your feet softly until they are about a foot from your seat bones. When you are strong enough in your core to maintain a quiet pelvis and neutral spine, you can keep your legs in tabletop position, or you can lower your legs to 2-3 inches of the floor, but this almost never works for a beginner.
There should be no tension on the side of your neck. If you feel the tension here, your nose and your chin are too high. If the tension does come into the sides of your neck, let your spine release your head down then right up again. That moment will release neck tension. Do this as often as is needed.
Once you are in the correct position, inhale slowly into your ribs, to the count of 5, with your arms moving to the count – exhale 6-7-8-9-10. Always count to 5, allowing your abdominals to fall deeper and deeper into your core, which will increase in strength as you move in this exercise towards 100. Take your time; time is needed to experience a real inhale and a deep exhale. Try to experience that movement. Great job!