5 Simple Stretches for Winter Athletes
When the snow starts falling, only one thing seems to pop into my head, and it’s not shitty roads or baking cookies. Nope, the only thing I seem to think about is skiing!
Growing up in Montana, I spent the winters playing outside and truly embracing the snow. If I hadn’t learned to like it, the long and cold winters would have driven me crazy. And embracing my environment is how my love for skiing came about.
I first started skiing when I was five-years-old. My school would take us on class trips to a nearby resort called Discovery Ski Area twice a year (welcome to Small Town, USA). Our teachers would put us in ski lessons for the first half of the day and let us go off on our own for the second half.
In true Cass fashion, I’d ditch my gal pals and keep up with the boys instead. I was a total tomboy growing up and hated not being the best at everything. When it came to skiing, it was no different.
Flash-forward 20 years later, and my mentality is still the same. I still love the snow, I still ski every chance I get, and I still can beat the boys from time to time. What's different is my approach to the winter sport and how I take care of my body doing it.
Skiing, snowboarding, and every other winter sport definitely takes a toll on the human body. Each sport requires you to hold certain positions for long periods of time, perform strong movements in the blink of an eye, and put yourself in some pretty dangerous situations from time to time.
---Want more ways to recover? Check out my complete beginner's guide to foam rolling by clicking HERE
Not only do you have to spend time preparing for the slopes, but you also have to spend time recovering from them. So next time you go charging down a mountain or tearing through some trees, give these 5 easy stretches a go after playing outside in the snow. Your body will thank you.
1. Outer Hips stretch
For this Fire Log stretch, sit cross-legged on a yoga mat. Now, with your bottom shin parallel to the top of your mat, mirror your top leg over your bottom leg. When you look down you should see a triangle shape. Extend your arms up, reaching up out of your waist and lean your upper body forward over your legs. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds before switching sides. Breathe.
2. Chest stretch
Hunching over and being internally rotated is the norm in almost every sport. That's why it's so important to stretch out your chest. Lie on your stomach and bring your right arm out to a 90-degree L-shape from your shoulder. Brace your left hand on the ground. Push into the ground and bring your left leg up and across the right side of your body, opening up your hip and chest. You should feel it in the right side of your chest. Go as far as feels comfortable and hold for 30-45 seconds before switching sides. Breathe.
3. Hip Flexor stretch
This has to be the tightest area on my body (and also the weakest!). Start on your knees, step your left leg pretty far forward. Fall into your right hip, keeping your right glute active. If you can, slide your left foot farther forward to get deeper. To take it a step further, raise both of your arms overhead and lean towards your left side. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds before switching sides. Breathe.
4. Quad stretch
From the hip flexor position, carefully bend your right leg and reach around with your left hand to grab your right foot. If this is too hard, you can also perform this move by resting your back foot against a wall. Hold for 30-45 seconds before switching sides. Breathe.
5. Glute stretches
Lie on your back and bring both feet hip-width distance apart, flat on the ground. Bring your left foot up over your right knee, keeping your foot flexed to protect your knee joint. If this is enough, stay. If you want more, reach around for your right hamstring or shin and pull your leg towards your chest. Hold for 30-45 seconds before switching sides. Breathe.