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Training for Downhill Skiing

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Downhill skiing is a fun winter activity as well as an Olympic sport. At any level there are training concerns to prevent injury and increase performance. A concern is that the boots used limit ankle motion. The rigid boot helps prevent ankle injuries in the boot but can lead to knee and back injuries or ankle injuries when not in the boot. The more your foot is in the boot the more you decrease your ankle range of motion. Ankle dorsiflexion, bending your foot towards your shin, decreases. This motion is needed for proper walking and running mechanics. If the ankle does not move through a proper range of motion the knee typically has to compensate and this leads to knee issues. Performing ankle range of motion exercises can reduce the incidence of injury. An effective exercise is the wall ankle mobility drill. Stand facing a wall with one foot four inches away from the way. The other leg will be behind you for balance. You can place your hands on the wall for more stability. Now touch the wall with your knee of the forward leg while keeping your foot flat and your knee cap positioned over your second toe. Perform 10-20 times.

Knee injuries also occur because of a leg imbalance between the front (quadriceps) and back (hamstring) muscles. The quadriceps get stronger than the hamstrings from the position of downhill skiing and the rigidity of the boot decreasing ankle motion. Training to return balance to the posterior (back) hip and leg muscles should be the goal. Exercises to be utilized include dead lifts, stiff leg dead lifts, good mornings, and glut-ham raises. The exercises should be performed with double leg and single leg variations. These muscles tend to have a muscle fiber composition that is designed more for strength and less for endurance. Taking this into consideration repetition ranges should be between 6-10 with sets of 3-5.

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