Here are 6 Exercises To Reduce Injuries While Nordic Skiing. It is that beautiful time of year in the Upper Midwest when the weather turns bitter cold and the snow comes down often indefinitely. For some this means time to never leave the house, and strictly hunker down with extra blankets, but for the brave or potentially just insane it allows us to dust of our skis and get the wax ready for some good old fashion Nordic or cross-country skiing.
However, the start of cross-country skiing should be met with a little caution. For most it is likely the case that you have not been on a pair of skis since March of this year, and the risk for overuse injuries in cross-country skiing may loom large. Infact, with regards to skiing related injuries it has been estimated that overuse injuries represent 75% of all cross-country ski related injury. Meaning that the body has not been allowed time to adapt to the new loads put on it by the skiing.
Because cross-country skiing involves your entire body injuries can happen to the upper body, lower body and the back. With very common reports of hip pain, Achilles tendon pain, back pain and shoulder pain. While some injuries cannot be prevented there are some exercises that you can do to decrease your risk of getting injured.
1) Heel Raise -Single leg against wall
Rest hands on the wall and push up on a single foot until you have reached the maximum heel raise. Repeat for 15-20 repetitions and then do the same on the other leg. Repeat this procedure for 2 more sets of 15-20 repetitions on each leg. This exercise can be performed for up to 4 days a week.
2) Shoulder Scaption -standing with resistance
With a weight in each hand lift the arms at a 45 degree angle from the hips. Lift up to shoulder height or just above shoulder height and you may choose to lower down to the hips again or repeat through a partial range from 70 to 120 degrees of shoulder elevation. This exercise should be repeated for 15-20 repetitions and up to 4 sets. This exercise can be performed for 4 days a week.
3) Bounding and landing -Single leg jump and land
Begin with standing on one leg and hop forward and land on the opposite foot with a slight knee bend. The hopping distance should only be performed to a distance that you are able to securely land on the opposite foot without a loss of balance. This should be repeated on the opposite leg. This exercise should be performed for 25-30 repetitions on each leg. This should be performed for 5-7 days a week.
4) Stance on foam- Eyes open or closed on single leg
Stand on one leg on a piece of foam or a pillow to provide a compliant surface to improve balance and proprioception through the ankles. This should be done next to a counter top or back of a sofa in case there is a loss of balance. The hand should be placed on the hips or across the chest. You should start with your eyes open until you are able to hold this position for up to 30 seconds, and then you should challenge yourself by performing the exercise with the eyes closed.
5) Band Pull Down- With thick resistance band
Stand with an exercise band around a secure and stable surface above your head. Keeping your back relatively straight pull the bands down with a forward hip bend. You may choose to straighten the elbows once you have bent forward or keep them bent to focus the effort on the abdominal muscles. This should be repeated for 3 sets of 20 repetitions. This exercise can be performed for 4 days a week.
6) Single leg squat- With or without UE assistance
With this exercise you can choose to start with hand assistance until you feel confident performing the exercise without any balance assistance. Start by standing on one leg and bending at your hips and your knee to a depth that you can perform comfortably. You should feel the effort through the heel of the foot and not the toes. The knee should stay behind the toes on the stance leg or just slightly in front of the toes. Your knee should not be so far in front of your toes that your heel raises from the ground. This exercise should be felt in the quadriceps, gluteals and the hamstring. This exercise should be performed for 2 sets of 20 repetitions on each leg and for a total of 4-5 days a week.
With all of those exercises you can address some underlying muscle deficits to prepare you for the season. However, it is still recommended that you gradually progress yourself during your return to skiing. The temptation will be to go as far and fast as you can on your first day back, but you will increase your chances of having an enjoyable full season of skiing with a gradual progression. A progression may include increased rest breaks for the first few times out as well as decreased distance travelled and then progressing your distances by 10-15% per week.
As with all things if you are unable to achieve your goals of skiing related to pain or impairments please contact a physical therapist that can help get you back on the trails and enjoying the winter months.