Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Preparations for Winter Sports

Preparations for Winter Sports
By Marc Trepanier

          The days are getting shorter and cooler. Leaves are just starting to turn colors. Yes, fall has started to creep in. This means, of course, that winter sports are around the next corner. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and whatever else charges you up.

          Winter sports, in particular, place a heavy emphasis on our legs. Our legs rely on our ankles for stability: our ankles and knees, to be precise. We will go over some exercises that will have you ready for your winter sport. Some of the exercises I have chosen are also used in rehabilitating joints from injuries and being isolated and unused for extended periods.


          Stretching and warming up is an important part of working out. I can’t make you do it, that is your choice. As for me, I stretch and get warmed up before jumping in these days. Time and again, specialists have proven that stretched, limber muscles are less prone to injury. What about strength? What about power? Yeah, I’ve asked those questions, too.

            Bruce Lee had no problems with lack of power, speed, strength or flexibility. From the bottom to the top, calves to neck. It’s too easy. Let’s go.

           Calf stretching is easy enough, as this image from Tribe Sports shows. I have no idea if you’ve ever tried walking on stiff calves before, but I can tell you that it is no fun. Ouch!

Hamstrings, the back of your thighs, you can stretch standing, sitting, one at a time, together, by yourself, with a partner. There are clearly several ways to stretch this muscle group. I will offer one way to stretch this group. If you want to find any of the other ways and work with those, then more power to you.

           When it comes to stretching hamstrings, I had always been admonished to keep my legs straight.  Why there is an example given with legs bent, I have no answer. I keep my legs straight.

           Of all the odd and the myriad ways of stretching the thigh muscles, the single and most effective stretch I have done is the one pictured to the right. In martial arts classes, I have been able to do this with a solid stretch while balancing on one foot. Yes, I impress myself. While in this position, you can increase the stretch by rolling your hips forward and pulling your foot back away from your hips as if you were the bow in an archery set. 

          The butterfly stretch is going to loosen up your hips and the muscles of your inner thighs. Believe me, if you have never done this, it feels great! It also touches on your lower back, which always helps.

As indicated, you put the bottoms of your feet together and pull your heels in toward your hips.
            You press down on your knees with your elbows as you lean forward and try to touch your forehead to the floor.
            As the stretch becomes easier, pull your feet in further.

           I have no clue what this stretch is called, but it’s the best one I have used for the core and back.
           Round about midterms, when I’m exhausted and among the walking dead, my sack of books feels like a ton, and my posture has gone the way of the Dodo, my back looks like Quasi Modo. It hurts! This is my go-to stretch to put things right. This is the stretch that will keep your trunk and back limber and loose for the slopes or for that class in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you've been considering. Do it, that's great stuff!
            Pectoralis stretches, pec stretching is so simple. All you need is a door frame. What could be easier than that?
           Stretching out your shoulders and upper back is a piece of cake. You’re at the door frame, so … as illustrated, you can pull your arm across your body to stretch it or you can grab hold of that door frame and lean the other direction to pull against it. This way, your body weight will stretch out your upper back and shoulder.
            For your neck, do slow, deliberate head rolls. Start by tilting your head toward your right shoulder. Let the weight of your head stretch the other side of your neck. Roll your head back slowly so that you’re looking up at the ceiling. Continue to your left shoulder. Then, around to the front so you are looking down at your feet. Roll your head around about five times and then reverse directions.

            Now, that you’re stretched, on to the workout.

            No. It’s not Burpees. Not this time. But, they sure wouldn’t hurt … much. The workout will be posted within the next two weeks.