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Prepare to Shred

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— September 29, 2017

Prepare to Shred

  • Before the winter hits and the snow falls, how will you prepare for the upcoming season snowboarding?
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Prepare to Shred

When board meets powder, will your body be ready?

Ignore the fact that there’s no snow outside your window yet. He may have never shredded up the side of a mountain, but Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying, “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.” That perfectly sums up the sport of snowboarding. Nearly 25% of snowboarding injuries occur during the rider’s first time on the board, and nearly half of all injuries occur within a rider’s first season. Clearly, failing to prepare for the slopes sets you up for a world of hurt. The key to snowboard season prep is to start your workout routine well in advance, says John-Paul H. Rue, MD, an orthopedics and sports medicine specialist with Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center. “In most cases, a four- to six-week plan should be enough time to get your muscles and joints snow-ready.” (Rue says it’s also important to have properly fitting safety equipment such as a helmet and wrist guards, and to ensure a good fit between your boots and the board.) A Conditioning Trifecta Rue suggests breaking down your preparation into three main areas— stretching/flexibility, aerobic conditioning, and anaerobic strength and conditioning—topped off with some balance work. Each plays an important role in preventing injury as well as improving your ride. “Stretching is an often overlooked but is a very important part of any serious workout routine,” he says. “the larger muscle groups such as the hamstrings, calf muscles and quadriceps require extra attention and stretching as they are more susceptible to injury.” A major performance factor, aerobic conditioning builds the body’s ability to send oxygen-rich blood to the brain and muscles, Rue adds. Overall strength is needed for endurance and to reduce the risk of injury and help maneuver the board. Strong muscles also ease fatigue during long bouts on the slopes. “Snowboarding requires a strong lower body,” says Rue, “particularly quadriceps, as well as solid core and back muscles for balance and stability. Strength and anaerobic endurance are additional keys to completing your pre-season training.” Exercises to strengthen your lower body provide you with the explosive strength and endurance you need to make it down those long runs without stopping, as well as help you absorb the forces from the bumps and landings along the way.

Sport-Specific Approaches To Improve Off-Season Conditioning,

Snowboarders should make aerobic activities such as running, biking or swimming (or a less-popular but intense modality, jumping rope) a part of their regular routine. Rue recommends cardio training three to five days per week, 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Squats, lunges, and box jumps— jumping from the ground to boxes of varying heights—work the muscles used in snowboarding, while oblique twists and plank-types of exercises build your core. “Pull-ups and rows will help build your back and shoulder muscles as well,” Rue suggests. “Burpees are a good combination workout to increase endurance and strength in multiple muscle groups.” “The importance of having a well-developed core to excel at snowboarding can’t be emphasized enough,” says Michele Olson, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Auburn University. She points out that, like other board sports such as standup paddleboarding, skateboarding, and surfing, you must have a keen balance and ability to react, which also involves the core. “These muscles include the hips, low back, abdominals and shoulder blade muscles.” Olson recommends the following exercises as the basis for a snowboarding workout: Squats, High-bench step-ups, Ab exercises, Planks, Push-ups, Back rows, tricep dips, lunges also translate well to snowboarding maneuvers, says Olson. “Snowboarding requires a staggered stance, meaning you lead with one leg. Therefore, lunges are a key exercise since there is a lead leg and a trailing leg.” Olson recommends doing approximately three sets of 15 reps of each exercise using dumbbells that are about 20 to 25% of your body weight (If you weigh 145 that would be building up to about 12 to 15 pounds in each hand for squats, lunges, and step-ups). A squat variation that includes a power component is another great way to prepare for snowboarding, says Julie Rammal, holistic fitness trainer and creator of the DVD In Light of Change. “Practice ten normal range-of-motion squats (chest opened, shoulders rolled back, abs engaged) followed directly by ten power squats (imagine holding a 20- to 30-pound weight and engaging all of your muscles as if you are lifting weights). Follow this with ten slow, deeply controlled squats (connecting with all leg muscles, breath and engaging your core to move your body).” This practice teaches you strength, coordination, breath control, and body-mind awareness, and gives you the edge to move quicker and smoother through your snowboarding practice, she adds. Perform one to two sets with 10 to 12 reps per exercise.

Think Fast: Reactive Strength

After you’ve developed a baseline of solid core strength doing the above, it’s time to develop your reactive strength, says Olson. This enables you to respond and adapt to sudden changes in terrain or situations. To develop reactive strength and increase balance proficiency, Olson recommends standing on a BOSU (a dome-shaped balance device) to squat and lunge. Similarly, standing on an uneven surface such as a balance disc or rolled-up yoga mat may be substituted if a BOSU is unavailable. Doing pushups and planks with a medicine ball (both hands-on ball) in the center works on core strength as well as reactive strength. Also, try standing on one leg in a T-stance (tip forward while extending one leg behind you as in a golfer’s pick-up stance) while you do back rows. While an elliptical machine (or spinning or step-machine) develops overall endurance, you can increase the balance challenge by adding slow walking or jogging backward on a 5% incline on a treadmill, suggests Olson. “This mimics the balance challenge and feel of the downhill grade encountered in snowboarding.”

Prepare with Pilates

As a modality that focuses largely on core strength, Pilates makes an ideal addition to snowboarding preparation. A strong core not only minimizes injuries but is also responsible for much of our balance and motion, says Ilaria Cavagna, certified Pilates trainer. “The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and oblique abdominal muscles… all are key for snowboarders.” Incorporate this core exercise into your routine.

Roll and unroll for the abs:

Sit on the floor or on the mat with knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet spread the width of your hips. Place your hands behind the thighs and begin rolling back—initiating the movement from the pelvis. Feel each vertebrae of the lower spine touch the floor. Think about pulling the stomach away from the thighs as you complete the rollback. With the same coordination and quality of movement (don’t skip any of the little bones in your spine) roll back up to a sitting position. “This exercise not only strengthens the abs, the rectus abdomens (otherwise known as the ‘six-pack’ muscles), but is also great for the health of the spine,” says Cavagna. “Since the work of the abdominals and the diaphragm is opposite but synergic at the same time it is very important to breathe correctly and not create a compression in the abdominal cavity.” Inhale at the top, where there is no effort, and keep a long and smooth exhale as you roll down and up. Build up to 50 reps. Increase to three sets as you get stronger. Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to know where it is in space and plays a key role in balance. Cavagna recommends the following exercise; at the beginning stay close to a wall for stability. Maintaining balance: Barefoot balance on one foot only and lift the toes off the floor. Keep the knee slightly bent and make sure it tracks with the second toe; hold for 30 seconds each side. Then lay down a double mat and balance on one knee only; hold for 30 seconds each side.

3 Great Places to Ride

Mammoth Mountain, CA With more than 3,500 skiable acres, it more than lives up to its name. Come for the nine terrain parks and 22-foot superpipe; stay for the variety, from trees to open bowls. Park City, UT If it was a challenge for the snowboard competitors at the 2002 Winter Olympics, it’ll be a good day’s riding for you. The natural hits let you catch a lot of big air. Squaw Valley, CA This former Olympic site offers freestyling galore and well-groomed slopes for piste lovers, along with areas for novice riders. And dues must be paid to Stratton: In 1983, this Vermont resort became the first to allow snowboards

 

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