Preparing Your Body for Winter Sports

Man skiing down mountain

Between snow skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and other winter activities, thousands of people are treated for injuries related to winter sports every year. Many of these injuries can be prevented by keeping in good physical condition.

Here is a guide to help your body prepare for skiing/snowboarding season. Working with a personal trainer or physical therapist who can give you an activity-specific conditioning program is also a great way to train for optimal performance. If you have a current or preexisting injury, speaking with a physical therapist is always a good idea before beginning a workout routine so that you do not make your injury worse.

*Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any workout routine.


Do this routine at least 3-times per week for the best results:

If you are unsure what some of these exercises are, we suggest searching for examples on YouTube.


  • Jump Rope – 1 minute
  • High Knees – 30 seconds
  • Jumping Jacks – 20 reps
  • Inchworm – 5 forward and 5 backwards


  • Ankle, knee, hip, shoulder circles – 5 reps on each side
  • Leg swings front to back and side to side – 10 on each side
  • Windmill toe touches – 5 on each side
  • Reach down to toes then reach to the sky – 5 times
  • Side step and reach across

Many common ski injuries can be avoided with regular stretching, both before and after you hit the slopes. Give your muscles a heads up of what they’re in for, and make sure your body is warm and ready. Dynamic stretches like leg swings and arm swings are great to start the day with. When you’re finished for the day and ready to head out, focus more on static stretches for your legs and back. Stretching beforehand will help avoid tightness and joint injury while stretching afterward will help prevent stiff, sore muscles.


  • Step ups on chair or bench – 12-15 each leg
  • Dot drills. Set up five dice or paper circles on the floor in a star pattern. Practice running and jumping from point to point for 1 minute.
  • Front and back hops – 20 seconds
  • Side to side hops – use both feet for 20 seconds, then a single foot for 20 seconds on each side


  • Squat Jumps- floor to sky and/or knees to chest- 15 reps
  • Power Skips- 30 skips


  • Single leg squat  – 5 reps each leg
  • One legged hops – 10 on each leg
  • Standing on one leg – 30 seconds with eyes open


Sprains and strains: A sprain is caused by ligaments being stretched too far and often in the wrong direction. A strain is similar to a sprain, except that with strains the muscles and tendons are affected, rather than ligaments.

Dislocations: This condition happens when the bones that meet at a joint are forced to become separated. Usually, this is caused by a traumatic fall.

Fractures: A fracture is when the bone partially or completely breaks. It is most commonly seen in the arm, wrist, ankle, and leg.

Head Injuries: There is no concussion-proof helmet, but helmets do absorb the shock of impact during head trauma and protect your skull.


It is still possible to suffer a head injury while wearing a helmet, but the severity of your injury will likely be much less. According to an article in the New York Times, studies have concluded that helmets reduce the risk of a serious head injury by as much as 60 percent.

Beyond protecting your head, helmets can help to block the sun from your eyes, keep snow out of your face, hold your goggles in place, and keep your head warm and shielded from the elements. As technology continues to advance, there are a multitude of features and accessories available for ski and snowboard helmets depending on what you’re looking for.

  1. Always try on helmets in person when possible. Helmets should fit comfortably and sit on your head correctly for the best possible protection. For an even better fit, bring your goggles with you to try on with a few helmets.
  2. If you are ordering a helmet online, measure your head to make sure you choose the correct size. Use a tape measure to determine the circumference of the largest part of your head.
  3. You don’t want your helmet to be too tight or too loose. A well-fit helmet will be snug, but not uncomfortable. Your helmet is too loose if it can rock back and forth on your head, or if it shifts when you move your head from side to side.
  4. Your helmet should rest approximately one inch above your eyebrows. There should not be a gap between your helmet and your goggles, but you also don’t want your helmet to push down on your goggles or affect your vision.
  5. No more than two fingers should fit under your chinstrap when the helmet is buckled. Always fasten the chinstrap before riding, and adjust the straps as needed.
  6. Make sure the helmet you choose meets all current snow helmet safety standards, such as the ASTM.


  1. Warm up thoroughly before playing or participating in any winter activities. Cold muscles, tendons, and ligaments are vulnerable to injury.
  2. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activities.
  3. Avoid participating in sports when you are in pain or exhausted. Most injuries occur when our muscles and bodies get tired. Give yourself time to build up your strength and stamina before you try to stay on the mountain for 8 hours. Listen to your body and stop when you get too tired.

Whether you are just starting out or you’re a seasoned athlete, make the most of your season by starting off healthy, safe, and strong. Here at The Center, we want you to enjoy the snow without pain or injury. If injuries do happen, our NOWCare Walk-In Injury Clinic is available Monday – Friday from 8:00am – 4:00pm.

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