28 November 2021

Pilates: 5 step ‘Skilates’ Workout

November 5, 2014

The ski season is fast approaching and if you’re heading off to the mountains it’s a good idea to get your body prepped and ready to make the most of your time on the piste.
Pilates is the perfect type of exercise to help you prepare your body for the demands skiing can put on your muscles and joints. Improving key areas such as core strength, balance, control, flexibility and coordination will not only improve your skiing ability and confidence on the slopes but could help to prevent niggling aches and pains.

Top Pilates instructor Emily Wilson has devised a series of 5 ‘skilates’ exercises below, all designed to strengthen and condition your muscles and have you skiing like a pro in no time!

1. The Slalom

• Lie down on your back making sure your spine is in a neutral position. Once you’re comfortable lift your legs in towards your chest. You must keep your knees bent and your shins parallel to the floor.

• Put your hands behind your head and slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor, but make sure you don’t pull on your neck with your hands, let your abs do all the work!

• Straighten your left leg while at the same time bringing your bent right leg in towards you.

• Now rotate your body so that your left elbow touches your right knee. Breathe out and do the same on the opposite side.

• Repeat this 5 times for each side.

Good for coordination, control and strengthening of your core and oblique muscles. This type of exercise will also help you to maintain the posture needed for skiing.

2. The Snow Plough

• Kneel on all fours so your hands are placed underneath each shoulder and your knees underneath each hip. Keep your spine and pelvis neutral and inhale.

• Exhale and slowly lift your right arm forward and your left leg back, lengthening them away from you as far as you can. Use your core to keep your upper body and shoulders completely stable when lifting your arm and leg. Hold the pose for the count of 5.

• Inhale and then slowly lower your arm and leg, now repeat on the other side.

• Repeat 6 times for each side.

Good for improving your balance and strengthening your core, key requirements for keeping steady on the slopes.

3. The Plank:

• Lie face down with your hands underneath your shoulders. Straighten your legs out and balance on the balls of your feet.

• Push up onto your hands and keep your body as straight as possible, like a ‘plank of wood’. Make sure you keep your spine and pelvis neutral; don’t dip your back. If your back begins to hurt come back down and rest on your knees and elbows but still hold the torso in a ‘plank’ position.

• Once balanced try lifting one leg off the floor and at the same time squeezing your buttocks. Hold this pose and count to 5 and then repeat with the other leg.

• Repeat 4 times with each leg.

Good for improving core strength, balance and stability in your shoulders. Your core muscles need to be strong to help support your back and pelvis while skiing.

4. The Sledge:

• Sit on the floor with your legs bent and your knees in line with each of your hips. Sit up straight and stretch your upper body upwards until you can feel your spine lengthen.

• Slowly exhale and allow your back to curve into a ‘C’ shape and slowly lower your body half way towards the floor. At the same time pull your abdominal muscles in towards your spine.

• Hold this position and inhale. Then exhale and at the same time slowly twist your upper body, shoulders, ribcage and head, all as one unit, to the right (using a ball or a cushion can really help). Inhale and come back to the centre, exhale and twist your upper body to the left.

• Try to do this two or three times on each side before returning back to a sitting position.

• Repeat this twice on each side.

Good for improving coordination and control. The ability to rotate your torso while keeping your hips stable is key when skiing.

5. The Ski Leg Generator:

• Lie down on your back, make sure your spine is neutral and both legs are bent; use a stretchy band (a scarf will do) around one foot and stretch the leg upwards towards the ceiling. You should be able to feel your hamstring stretch.

• Now increase the stretch by taking a few deep breathes and slowly pulling your leg in towards your chest using the band. Make sure you keep the leg straight.

• Do this with both legs and hold for at least 30 seconds, gradually working up to 1 minute over time on each side.

• For a more intense stretch try straightening your other leg out along the floor.

Good for improving flexibility in the hamstrings, this is particularly important for skiing as hamstring muscles can become tight.

Emily Wilson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Find out more about Emily Wilson here

To help you prepare for your ski holiday, check out this useful guide, it includes money saving tips and airline baggage regulations and costs for taking ski equipment away with you.

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