Yoga and Skiing: Why You Should Stretch Before that Caesar

November 06, 2013 Katie Burrell

No matter how fit you are, how hard you train in the summer or how limber you think you are, skiing has a famous way of still making you incredibly stiff, sore and creaky. Responsible people talk about a “preventative” approach – stretching, resistance training – and heli-skiers talk about rolling in from a day of powder skiing and posting up at the bar for a Caesar or a Hot Toddy (we just really know how to enjoy life). Well, the responsible people have gone and done it again; stretching post-skiing is a really smart move…at least while the bartender is shaking your Martini. Here are a few of the best yoga poses to do before and after skiing to stay injury-free this season.

Have A Quick Stretch Before You Post Up At The Bar. Photo: Dave Silver
Have a quick stretch before you post up at the bar. Photo: Dave Silver

Body imbalances like overdeveloped muscles can really affect your performance on the shred sticks. Further, they can make the rest of your life really painful. Super strong quadriceps (from hot laps in bumps) and tight, weak hamstrings, teamed up together can put a lot of strain on your knee joints. You want to be able to bend those knees smoothly. There are two ways to do this: stop skiing or start stretching your calves. The winner? Calf stretching. Downward Dog is a pose that really cranks right into the calves. You will be amazed at how much a couple of these can loosen up the fascia in the feet, back of the ankles, calves and behind the knees.

Casual skiers often overlook how important it is to strengthen their core and upper body as well as the legs.  But anyone who has snapped their body forward while skiing knows how painful that can be for the lower back for what feels like weeks afterward. Boom! Yoga. Poses like plank build core strength, which ultimately protects you from injury because core strength acts like a structural support: it holds you together.

The Yoga Journal recommends Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Vrksasana (Tree Pose) for skiers, and not just because the names correspond with the sport. Both poses promote balance and the strengthening of the tiny stabilizer muscles that improve the functioning of your larger muscles. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger you will feel when you work from the inside out, and all the way from the largest muscle down to the smallest. Every section of the human body is a working part – like a bike or an engine – and when the muscles compliment each other is when you can really start enjoying yourself out in the pow.

Pigeon Pose – HOLY – this pose is mind-boggling hip-releasing. Hip mobility is a huge factor in your ability to turn and centre yourself on skis.

And of course, Childs Pose. Because you deserve it.

Goddess Pose is great for two reasons: one, you get to lie on your back, and two, you release your hips. (Anyone who has been following any of my fitness tips knows that things like “lying on your back” is one of the types of exercise that I am very much in support of.) Lie flat on our back with the bases of your feet touching, creating a diamond shape with your legs, and let your knees drop towards the floor. Your hip flexors will be stoked to move in that direction to release all of the tension that they have been building up throughout the day; just as stoked as you were while slashing through waist-deep powder.

An Example Of A Last Frontier Heliskiing Specific Yoga Pose. Photo: Dave Silver
An example of a Last Frontier Heliskiing specific yoga pose. Photo: Dave Silver