Winter Fitness: The 7 Best Stretches For After A Day On The Slopes
Stretch it out and get ready to shred another day.
Whether you’re a backcountry thrill seeker or you spend most of your time on the magic carpet, stretching after a day on the mountain is a good idea for any skier or snowboarder. Stretching is often overlooked and underappreciated. The thing is, it’s pretty darn important. For starters, stretching improves blood flow, getting rid of metabolic waste and delivering more oxygen and nutrients, which means you might not be as sore in the morning as you otherwise would’ve been. Second, stretching regularly improves flexibility, range of motion, and reduces injury risk, ultimately improving your performance on the mountain. Stretching when you hit the lodge is a great way to wind down, especially when combined with a frosty pint.
There are a few things to consider when stretching those tired muscles: stretch only when your muscles are warm and flexible; don’t stretch to the point of pain or discomfort; breathe normally throughout your stretches; complete each stretch two to three times, holding each position for 20 to 30 seconds.
1. Couch Stretch
Target: Hip flexors and quadriceps
How: Stand in front of a couch or chair. Place the top of your right foot on the seat of the couch then lower into a lunge. Adjust your body until your right heel is touching or nearly touching your right glute. Keep your torso straight and gently press your hips forward until you feel a mild stretch through the front of your right hip and thigh. Hold the stretch then switch legs.
2. Side Lunge Stretch
Target: Inner thighs and hips
How: Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart then take a large step to your right. Transfer your weight to your right leg and lower into a side lunge until you feel a stretch down the inside of your left leg. Hold here before switching sides.
3. Downward Dog with Heel Pedals
Target: Hamstrings, calves, and back
How: Begin on your hands and knees then lift your knees off the floor and press your hips toward the ceiling. Extend your legs and press your heels into the floor until you feel a stretch through the back of your leg, lift your hips to intensify the stretch. Maintain this position as you slightly lift your left heel off the floor to increase the stretch in your right calf. Hold for a count of two then lift your right heel. Continue to “pedal” your heels throughout the stretch.
4. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
Target: Low back and glutes
How: Lay flat on your back with your legs extended. Bring one knee toward your chest as far as you comfortably can. Hold here then repeat with your other leg. End the sequence by pulling both knees toward your chest at the same time.
5. Knee Roll Stretch
Target: Back, obliques, and hips
How: Lay on your back with your arms extended out to your sides and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your upper back flat on the floor and your knees together as you slowly lower your legs to the left toward the floor. Lower as low as you can without lifting your right shoulder off the floor. Hold here for five seconds then roll your legs to the other side. Continue to roll from side-to-side for 30 to 60 seconds.
6. Seated Glute Stretch
Target: Glutes, hips, and hamstrings
How: Sit on the floor with your torso slightly reclined supported by your arms, knees bent and feet flat. Lift your right ankle and place it on your left knee. Press your right knee slightly away from your body while simultaneously lifting your torso upright until you feel a stretch through your right glute. Hold here then repeat the movement with your left leg.
7. When in doubt, roll it out
In addition to, or in lieu of, all of these stretches, you should definitely consider spending some time with a foam roller. If you have one, you know how awesome they are – if you don’t, you should definitely consider investing in one. In addition to improving blood flow, breaking up knots and smoothing out and restoring elasticity in muscle fascia, foam rolling also improves flexibility and minimizes muscle soreness, according to research published by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and Journal of Athletic Training, respectively. Roll along the length of each muscle until you find a spot of pain or tenderness. Pause at the spot, breathing deeply for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the knot to break up. Avoid rolling over bones and joints.
Cover photo: Noah Couser
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