Part 1 - Training with a Purpose

Every sport requires varying levels of Bio-motor abilities, and snow sports are no different. Translated that means that you require:

  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Coordination

For snowboarding an optimal focus for your training should be focused on strength and power but particular attention should be paid to your flexibility, agility, balance and coordination. A moderate level of endurance may be needed for longer free-riding and that can be obtained with general cardiovascular sessions and a little slope time.

Flexibility is not something to be taken lightly and everyone has different flexibility needs. A general stretch routine may work for one person; however most of us need to do some form of corrective exercise stretches, based upon specific muscular length tension assessments. If you feel you have a wide range of motion in one area, there may be no need to stretch that area at all. A lot of females tend to be hyper-mobile and should be focusing on strengthening, avoiding flexibility training.

A training concept I want to get you thinking about today is about warming up appropriately. Spinal stabilisation is based around the concept of the deep abdominal wall or inner unit and the outer unit or superficial muscles. These are often referred to as the core muscles.

I see a lot of clients, athletes and non-athletes who have a dysfunctional inner unit, or an inability to stabilise the spine. This can leave the chalet door open for a host of injuries such as blown discs and neck, knee and hip wrenches. With a sport like snowboarding the demand for activation of the core muscles is increased because of prevalence of  factors such as unpredictable surfaces, weather and changes in velocity and direction. Imagine coming out of big jump with a few rotations, or simply wiping out, and you can't stabilise the spine. Bang there goes a disc and your out for a couple of months.

Inner unit test

To test your inner unit, tie a piece of string around your belly button, whilst standing. Take a breath in, your belly should move away from the spine. Exhale, your belly should gently move back toward your spine.

part1b

Now gently try to draw your belly button in toward your spine, away from the string. If this doesn't happen or the belly pushes outwards you may be in need of retraining of the core. A technique that you can try to 'wake up' or excite these muscles is to destabilise the body in an attempt to fire up those muscles. Have a look at the following warm ups to get those core muscles working.

This is a four point stance as a wake up. Remember that with each exercise you are trying to maintain a neutral spine or imagine a pole in contact with the head upper back and lower back as a cue.

part1a

If you find that comfortable try the kneeling Swiss ball balance. Remember that the less points of contact that your have with an object the more stability you require.

Move the ball around to manipulate the position and test your body's ability to stabilise.

If you haven't tried these before, get someone to assist you to avoid injury!

part1d
part1c

One final note - The last exercise in the series is NOT a Warm up exercise and should not be done unless under the guidance of someone skilled in strength and conditioning. It is a sport specific stability and strength exercise that should only be done after an appropriate level of base conditioning. Examples of these board specific techniques will follow later in the series but until then, build that core!

This article originally appeared on Snowboard Club UK.

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