As a Certified Athletic Trainer, we often find that hip and core strength play a key role in keeping athletes healthy, but can sometimes be overlooked aspects of strength and conditioning programs. By focusing on these elements, you can prevent injuries and keep yourself on the slopes all season long. Here are five exercises to try out:
Use a band around your knees while lying on your side with your back and feet flat against a wall. Slowly open the top leg (without arching your lower back) and hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Perform 3 times on each side.
Banded Squats with External Rotation
With a band around your knees, perform a body weight squat with your arms out in front, making sure that you’re engaging your core and preventing your knees from caving inwards. At the bottom of the squat, push your knees outwards against resistance and repeat this 10 times. Then return to the top of the squat. Repeat entire process 3 times.
Forward Lunges with Neutral Shin
This is your classic forward lunge with a minor twist that allows us to harness the strength of the gluteus maximus. With your hands on your hips, step one leg forward and drop into a lunge. The key here is to keep your tibia (shin) neutral. By this, I mean that your knee should not be out in front of your toes. Instead, your tibia should be in a straight vertical alignment with your heels glued to the ground. On the way up, make sure you drive through the heels. This will help with activating your hips. As you feel more comfortable, you can add dumbbells, kettle bells, or even implement the motion into a step-up. Repeat 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg.
Single Leg Deadlift
This exercise combines your balance, core, and strength all in one. Start by standing on one leg. Slightly bend the knee, tighten your core (remembering to keep the low back flat) and then hinge at the hips to start the motion. Then begin to lift the opposite leg straight behind you, lean the trunk forward to form a parallel line to the ground, and keeping your arms out in front. By performing the hip motion first, you’re able to activate the hip complex and give yourself more stability to move through the exercise. Repeat 3 sets of 12 reps on each leg.
Start by laying face down on the ground. Then lift yourself up using your forearms and toes, keeping your torso in a straight line (don’t arch the back or lift the butt up). Think about pulling “up” with your abdominal muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, and then move onto side planks.
The same concept applies here, except this time you will be lying on your side and supporting your bodyweight with a single forearm and foot. Again, pull “up” with your abdominals when in the plank position. You should feel this more on the “lower” muscles, meaning the ones that are closest to the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Repeat the whole plank series 3 times.
These prevention exercises can be implemented in all sports in order to ensure a healthy and safe participation. Hip core strength is key for running, jumping, and more. Nonetheless, we hope you have a fun and safe winter season!