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Don't Call It A Comeback - It's Been Here For Years

Winter that is, and it’s on the horizon! Indeed, peak foliage has settled, the leaves are falling, and sure enough as you’ve been sitting on the c(OUCH!), the snow is about to fly! Don’t allow winter to knock you out!

Get back in the ring and take another swing! Dust off the snowshoes, wax up the skis, sharpen the skates, and let’s goooo! But wait, you exclaim as your knees tremble rising to your feet! You haven’t trained for any or all of this yet! You are curious and eager to know where to start.

Let’s begin at the interface between you and the ground; in this case, snow and ice. Your feet are attached to a long stick if you are on skis, a razor blade if you are on ice, and a bear claw if you choose snowshoes. You can’t make this stuff up and I genuinely acknowledge and accept the absurdity and beauty in all of this!

If you are on skis you now wear a size 40 (+/-) narrow shoe. If you prefer skates, a typical blade is about 1/8 of an inch wide. At 12 inches long, you are working with a surface area of 1.5 square inches which equals 3 inches for the two blades!

And while the snowshoe will provide increased surface area between you and the fluffy surface below, it imposes unique and extraordinary load transmissions up the entire kinetic chain. Take note in skiing, snowboarding, and skating that the affixed boot or skate locks the would-be mobile ankle in place. This forces the knee to accept unique loads it typically would not have, had it not been locked into a boot or skate.

A weak core will manifest “energy leaks” into less than stable joints as you make your way down the hill, up the mountain, or across the ice. What’s an “energy leak” you ask? An “energy leak” is the body’s inability to sustain the loads imposed; as such, the energy dissipates and is not transferred into efficient or effective movement. Think of a skater in hockey who can “stop on a dime” and one whose deceleration is less than precise – this is an “energy leak”.

The weak core in this instance could be the upper quarter (shoulder complex) and/or the lower quarter (hip-lumbo-pelvic complex). Both need to be trained in order to maximize energy transfer from the unsettling ground interface, up the chain, and into the lower and

upper extremities. Most, if not all, exercises prescribed will be ground based. Note the loads imposed on the system during winter activities are multi-directional, spontaneous, and occur while you are moving (dynamic). The environment is chaotic; as such, one might argue that the training environment should be the same. Certainly the basics of strength (squats, deadlifts) and power (vertical jump, broad jump) should be implemented in a winter training program as well as a variety of top-down (think over-head squat) and bottom-up (think Turkish get-up) to maximize training energy transfer in a dynamic setting.

If you are playing hockey, the efficiency of energy transfer through training both your upper and lower quarters could maximize speed and accuracy of your stick handling.

What about biathlon you ask? We’ll save that for a snowy day!

PhD, ATC, CSCS, SCCC, Head of Reconditioning and Return to Performance Program

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