Stretching Improves Nordic Skiing Efficiency and Reduces Injury
Cross-country ski season is here. There is a chill in the air, snow has fallen, and you intend to put these both to good use!
In fact, as you read this you’ve probably already had your first day. Maybe you went out for a lot longer than you should have; your body not quite as prepared as your mind. Understandable! After all, Nordic skiing utilizes more muscle groups than most other sports, requiring them to be limber, toned, and coordinated.
You’ve heard it before, “the most important thing you can do before exercising is warming up.” So even after warming up, are you having trouble getting your rhythm going? Well, if you aim to ski smoother and longer with less risk of cramping up, it may help to prioritize your flexibility.
There are many stretches that will prepare your legs and hips as well as your upper body to improve your skiing stance, enable better poling, and most importantly, resist injury on those days when you push it.
Even Better News
If you do have injuries or other individual needs like a mechanical imbalance that is holding back your performance, there are many types of professionals in the Upper Valley who are capable of creating customized programs with only you in mind.
So when is the “best time” to stretch?
It’s best to stretch when your muscles are warm and relaxed! You already know that cross-country skiing is very energetic, so you’ll benefit from both dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretches can form a part of your pre-training warm-up, while static stretches can be included as part of your cool down routine.
Click this link for a youtube video playlist of our suggestions. You can also take exercises on the road with this printable reference card seen below. Each double-sided page contains two reference cards that can be folded and taken with you on your next ski adventure.
As general rules:
- Move through your range of movement, keeping control of the movement with your muscles. Do not use momentum by “throwing” your body parts around.
- You may feel light resistance in your muscles, but you should never feel pain during a stretch.
- Start slow, repeat the movements for 20-30 seconds. Repeat the stretch 3 times.
- When holding a static stretch do not bounce.