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Ski-Specific Flexibility

A 10 minute program

Target areas: large muscle groups; hips, ankles, shoulders, trunk

Objective:

  • improve ski-specific body alignment through muscle stretching and joint flexion
  • improve stability through a range of motion,
  • equalize left-right muscle dominance patterns

Duration: 10 - 12 minutes

Groundrules:

  1. relax into a stretch; no pulling, pushing, bobbing allowed
  2. hold every position for between 30 - 60 seconds
  3. breathe! Never stop breathing
  4. discontinue a stretch if you feel sharp pain, particularly in a joint area

Program: the following exercises are meant to be done in sequence. Once athletes have gotten comfortable with the required alignments and movements, they should transition from one position to the next with no more than a few seconds in between. Repeat program from the beginning for a more thorough, deep-muscle stretch is desired.

Note: most of your athletes will find many of the positions hard to achieve initially, but after 3 - 5 sessions most will reach a level of flexibility in most positions to allow a more complete range of motion. Mastery of proper alignment and stability over a full range of motion requires regular practice of technique over a period of time not unlike skiing.

Standing Stretches

#1: Readiness position

Alignment points:

- feet under shoulders, arms loose at sides; knees opened fully but not locked

- pelvis rotated forward, beneath spine, to remove arch in back

- "high" sternum (don't cave in at chest)

- relaxed jaw

Movement:

inhale slowly and raise arms over head making the largest arc possible. Lift arms by hands, not shoulders; exhale slowly and downsweep slowly, creating the largest arc possible. Repeat

Objective:

general relaxation and breathing control


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#2 Forward Stretch

Movement:

begin in Readiness position (see above) inhale, and on the exhale, with pelvis rotated underneath, slowly lower chin to chest, slowly roll shoulders forward, and continue slowly rolling trunk downward, vertebrae by vertebrae until the hips start to break from vertical; pause briefly then continue until full forward extension is reached. Cross arms and relax; breathe; after 30 seconds, bend your knees and slowly lower yourself into a crouch, feet pointed forward, heels on the ground; when stable, place hands on heels and reverse the roll upward, pausing momentarily when hips reach vertical; releasing heels when necessary;

Alignment points:

at full downward extension body is folded where thigh meets hip; hamstrings are stretched; heels stay on ground throughout entire process

Objectives:

stretch hamstrings, create trunk, ankle flexion

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#3 Dog Stretch

Beginning alignment:

on floor on hands and knees; hands shoulder-width; knees shoulder width apart and slightly behind hips; feet shoulder-width apart

Movement:

inhale, and on the exhale stand up (hands stay on floor) and slowly push heels to the floor; continually push back from hands, keeping legs straight, working to create a concavity in back, working to bring the heels to floor; initially 30 seconds; extend to 60 and 90 seconds in duration with increase in overall flexibility and improvement in alignment

Alignment Points:

feet pointing toward hands, back concave, head dropping below shoulder line

Objectives:

calf and Achilles tendon stretch, shoulder, ankle, trunk flexion

#4 Repeat "#2: Forward Stretch"


#5 Side Stretch Left

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness position jump to three feet apart; turn right foot out at 90 degrees to neutral orientation; turn left foot in at 30 degrees; hips and trunk remain in neutral orientation

Movement:

keeping hips in neutral orientation, inhale and on the exhale slide hips toward the left, lean to the right and slide right hand down right toward right ankle; lift left hand to a 12:00 position; turn head to look at left hand; open chest, hips; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips stay neutral-oriented as much as possible throughout, left palm faces front, head turns to looks to palm; legs straight, jaw relaxed;

Objectives:

balance, hamstring stretch, shoulders, hip, and trunk flexion

#6 Side Stretch Right

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness postion jump to feet three feet apart; turn left foot out at 90 degrees to neutral orientation; turn right foot in at 30 degrees; keep hips and trunk in neutral orientation

Movement:

keeping hips in neutral orientation, inhale and on the exhale slide hips toward the right, lean sideways to the left and slide left hand toward left ankle; right hand lifts to a 12:00 position; turn head to look at right hand; open chest, hips; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips stay neutral-oriented, right palm faces front, head looks to palm; legs straight, jaw relaxed;

Objectives:

balance, hamstring stretch, shoulder, hip, and trunk flexion

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#7 Repeat "#2 Forward Stretch"

#8 Side Stretch with Twist Right

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness position jump to three' apart; turn right foot out at 90 degrees to neutral orientation; turn left foot in at 30 degrees; rotate hips, face, and trunk until they face the direction of right foot

Movement:

keeping hips directed to the right, inhale, and on the exhale reach forward with the left hand while pulling back with the right hip; bend forward and place the left hand on the outside of the right calf/ankle, twisting trunk; raise the right hand to 12:00, turn head and look upward at the right hand; hold 30 seconds pick a balance point on which to focus the eyes; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips stay directed toward the right foot as much as possible throughout, right palm faces forward; legs straight, jaw relaxed; left heel firm on ground to sustain balance

Objectives:

balance, hamstring stretch, shoulder, hip, and trunk flexion

#9 Side Stretch with Twist Left

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness position jump to three' apart; turn left foot out at 90 degrees to forward orientation; turn right foot in at 30 degrees; hips, face, and trunk rotate until they face the direction of right foot

Movement:

keeping hips directed to the left, inhale, and on the exhale reach forward with the right hand while pulling back with the left hip; bend forward and place the right hand on the outside of the left calf/ankle, twisting trunk; raise the left hand to 12:00, turn head and look upward at the left hand; hold 30 seconds pick a balance point on which to focus the eyes; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips stay directed toward the left foot as much as possible throughout, left palm faces forward; legs straight, jaw relaxed; right heel fiorm to floor to sustain balance

Objectives:

balance, hamstring stretch, shoulder, hip, and trunk flexion

#10 Repeat "#2 Forward Stretch"


#11 Side and Groin Stretch right

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness position jump to 4 1/2 - 5' apart; turn right foot out at 90 degrees to neutral orientation; turn left foot in at 30 degrees; hips and trunk are in neutral orientation; raise arms to parallel with floor; head faces direction of right foot

Movement:

keeping hips in neutral orientation as much as possible, inhale, and on the exhale lower the right leg until the knee is over right ankle and the right thigh is parallel to the floor; inhale again and on the exhale place the right hand on the floor beside outside of right foot and brace arm against calf; bring straight left arm over head; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips remain in neutral orientation, left leg is straight; outside of left foot stays attached to the floor; angled straight line runs from left hand to left foot

Objectives:

balance, hamstring, and groin stretch, shoulder, hip, and trunk flexion

#12 Side and Groin Stretch Left

Initial Alignment:

begin in readiness position jump to 4 1/2 - 5' apart; turn left foot out at 90 degrees to forward orientation; turn right foot in at 30 degrees; hips and trunk are in neutral orientation; head faces direction of left foot; arms are raised to parallel with the floor

Movement:

keeping hips in neutral orientation as much as possible, inhale, and on the exhale lower the left leg until the knee is over left ankle and the left thigh is parallel to the floor; inhale again and on the exhale place the left hand on the floor beside outside of left foot and brace arm against calf; bring straight right arm over head; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment points:

hips remain in neutral orientation, right leg is straight; outside of right foot stays attached to the floor; angled straight line runs from left hand to left foot

Objectives:

balance, hamstring and groin stretch, shoulder, hip, and trunk flexion


#13 Forward Stretch in Wide Stance

Movement:

begin in readiness position; jump to 5' apart keeping feet, hips, trunk in forward orientation; rotate pelvis forward; inhale, and on the exhale bend forward while sliding hands down the outside of legs; anchor hands as far down toward the ankles as possible and use as steady pressure to pull trunk gently and steadily lower; hold 45-60 seconds; inhale and come up

Alignment points:

fold forward where hip meets thigh, not at the back; keep pelvis rotated underneath and the back as straight as possible throughout

Objectives:

balance, hamstring stretch, hip flexion

Seated Postures

#14 Seated Forward Stretch

Starting Seated Alignment:

sit with straight or slightly concave back; legs straight and feet squared to neutral orientation heels pushed away and the toes angled back toward body

Movement:

inhale and on the exhale, maintaining straight or slightly concave back, bend forward at thigh/hip joint and reach forward with hands and clasp toes; hold 30 - 45 seconds, inhale, come up

Alignment:

feet always square, heels always pushing away, back always

straight,chest moving towards thigh

Objectives:

hip and ankle flexion, hamstring and calf stretch


#15 Seated Right Side Stretch

Movement:

begin with starting seated alignment; bend left leg to 90 degrees bringing heel of left foot to hip/thigh joint; sitting upright, place left hand on outside of right knee and twist trunk to the right; hold and breathe for 10 seconds; relax and twist back to face right foot; keeping back straight or slightly concave inhale and on the exhale fold at the hip/thigh joint, reach forward and clasp foot with your hands; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment:

right foot always square to neutral orientation, heel always pushing away, back always straight, chest centered over thigh

Objective:

hip and ankle flexion, hamstring, calf stretch

#16 Seated Left Side Stretch

Movement:

begin with starting seated alignment; bend right leg to 90 degrees bringing heel of right foot to hip/thigh joint; sitting upright, place right hand on outside of left knee and twist trunk to the left; hold and breathe for 10 seconds; relax and twist back to face left foot; keeping back straight or slightly concave inhale and on the exhale fold at the hip/thigh joint, reach forward and clasp foot with your hands; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment:

left foot always square to neutral orientation, heel always pushing away, back always straight, chest centered over thigh

Objective:

hip and ankle flexion, hamstring, calf stretch


#17 Seated Right Side Stretch With Twist

Movement:

begin with starting seated alignment; bend left leg to 90 degrees bringing heel of left foot to base of hip/thigh joint; place right hand on inside of right knee and twist trunk to the left; hold and breathe for a few seconds; relax and while still twisted and looking behind, inhale, and on the exhale lower trunk to the right while sliding right hand down calf until it reaches the the arch of foot; bring left arm over head and grasp the outside of right foot; twist and look upward; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment:

right foot always square to neutral orientation, heel always pushing away, back always straight, right side of trunk centered over right thigh

Objective:

trunk, hip, and ankle flexion, hamstring, calf stretch

#18 Seated Left Side Stretch With Twist

Movement:

begin with starting seated alignment; bend right leg to 90 degrees bringing heel of right foot to base of inner hip/thigh joint; place left hand on inside of left knee and twist trunk to the right; hold and breathe for a few seconds; relax and while still twisted and looking behind, inhale and on the exhale lower trunk to the left while sliding left hand down calf until it reaches the the arch of foot; bring right arm over head and grasp the outside of left foot; twist and look upward; hold 30 seconds, inhale and come up

Alignment:

left foot always square to neutral orientation, heel always pushing away, back always straight, left side of trunk centered over right thigh

Objective:

trunk, hip, and ankle flexion, hamstring, calf stretch

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