Feeling some mountain fatigue? It’s time to stretch it out (with your skis and boots on).
By Katrina Kopeck
Yoga can be a beautiful preparation for the athletics of skiing—it can also be a great way to keep your muscles working in between runs.
Skiing specifically puts stress on the quads, gluteus, hip flexors, and IT band. You might also feel tight in your shoulders or back if you’re skiing tense. After a full morning of powder (or ice, or whatever else the mountains throw at you), you might be feeling it and in need of a good stretch. Instead of unbuckling, unsnapping, un-velcroing all of your gear, take a couple minutes to stretch out in your skis or boots.
Try out these geared-up stretches on the mountain:
- Quad stretch with chest opener (in boots)
Plant your poles a few feet in front of you, then lean forward until your boots stop you. You should feel a stretch into your thighs and hip flexors, and if you lean back you should feel a gentle backbend, opening your chest and shoulders as well.
- Quad stretch (in skis or boots, with modification)
Option 1: Stand in your skis, feet about hip-width distance apart. Put your weight into your left leg and kick your right leg behind you, tip of your ski into the snow. Stay for 3-5 breaths, then switch legs.
Option 2: Stand in your boots, feet about hip-width distance apart. Put your weight into your left leg and kick your right leg behind you, grabbing onto your boot with your right hand. If you don’t connect with your boot, place the top of your boot on a bench or have a friend hold your boot. Stay for 3-5 breaths, then switch legs.
- Hamstring stretch (in skis)
Stand in your skis and raise one leg out in front until the end of your ski taps into the snow. Use your poles to help balance. After 3-5 breaths, gently set your ski back down and switch to the other side.
Note: If you feel a strain behind your knee or into your hip, skip this one and do pyramid pose instead.
- Pyramid pose (in boots)
Place your right boot in front of your left, heel piked into the ground. Shift your hips back, keeping a fairly straight right leg. Pull your right hipbone back in space and tilt your torso forward. Switch feet and repeat.
Note: If you feel a strain behind your knee or into your hip, bend into your front leg and lift your sitting bones until you feel the stretch in the “belly” of your hamstring.
- IT stretch (in boots)
Note: If you have any lower back pain, fold forward with a long, flat spine.
- Shoulder opener (with poles)
Start standing (with or without your skis) and bring your poles in front of you. Grab the poles so your hands are wider than your shoulders and the poles are parallel to the ground. Slowly raise the poles overhead until you feel your shoulders start to stretch. You might be able to raise your poles overhead, or you might be able to reach them behind you a little bit.
Note: To open more into your shoulders and chest, move your right hand back and down behind you, your left hand forward and up. Hold for a breath or two, then switch left hand back and down, right hand up and forward.
- Figure four pose (in boots)
Standing in your boots, shift your weight to your left leg and raise your right leg in front of you. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh and sink your hips back, like you’re about to sit in a tiny chair. Hold for 3-5 breaths and switch sides.
–Katrina Kopeck is a yoga instructor, writer, food enthusiast and dog hugger in Boulder, CO. She loves all puppies, most books and a great deal of music. You can catch her classes at CorePower Yoga, Yoga Loft Boulder, Ruya Crossfit and the Boulder VA Center. Find her full schedule at katrinakopeckyoga.com.