Get Fit For the Slopes

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Skiing is an annual holiday for many and so you need to get your body ready for it to allow you to enjoy your holiday to the full, ski optimally, and hopefully remain free of strains, aching joints or injury.

The most critical determinant of injury is your physical fitness and it may come as no surprise that the majority of injuries are reported between 12pm and 4pm in the afternoon when people are tiring.

So, let’s have a look at what preparation you can do in the lead up to your skiing holiday.


Cardiovascular fitness

For many of us, we sit at a desk between 9 and 5 during the working week, then come a skiing holiday we expect our body to smoothly adjust to exercising for much of the time between these hours for a whole week.

So, it’s worth taking time to improve your cardiovascular system before heading out to the slopes to increase your skiing stamina. This could include taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or going for a run, jog, cycle or stepping for twenty minutes a few times a week.


Strength and power

The main muscles used during skiing are your quadriceps and gluteal muscles. These are at the front of your thigh and the back of your thigh, respectively.

Your quads help straighten your knee and control it from a straight position into a bent one whilst skiing. Your gluteus medius (lateral hip muscle) controls your external hip rotation which is heavily relied upon in skiing.

These muscles can be trained with lunges, squats, step ups, and cycling. However, it’s recommended that you don’t use wall squats as they are similar to skiing with your weight on your heels.

You can also exercise your hip gluteals using the classic clam exercise where you lie on your side with your hips and knees in a skiing position, and keeping your ankles together you lift your top knee, like a clam opening and closing.


Weight distribution

Having your weight balanced over the centre of your skis will give you optimal control and the ability to turn smoothly.

If you sit down a lot, you may find you cannot balance your weight directly over the centre of your skis. This can strain your knees and quad muscles, as well as putting too much weight on the back of your skis which may cause a loss of control.

You should aim to bend your knees into a skiing position and balance your weight forwards, as if you are going to tip over, from your core.


Improved biomechanics

You can train your body to move in the most efficient way. Initially if you stand in front of the mirror in shorts with your feet parallel in a skiing position you can check your knees and pelvis movements.

You can look to see how your knees are aligned. If they do not line up well then, you’re likely to have trouble carving on the slopes and your knees will be put under pressure.

To check you need to imagine a dot on the centre of your knee cap and then draw a line down to the floor between your 2nd and 3rd toe to see if your knee is straight. If they aren’t straight you can rectify this by moving your knees up and out so that they are central, 30 times every day, until it becomes your default form.

You can also work on your neutral pelvis position, when your bottom is not too tucked under or sticking out too far. This position allows your muscles to work better. You can practice bending your knees into a skiing position whilst maintaining pelvic neutrality for 30 reps every day until it feels natural.



You don’t need to worry too much about flexibility but you will need to be reasonably flexible if you fall and don’t want to suffer on the slopes. Some people’s muscle groups, such as the calves and hips are often tight.


Ramsay Health Care UK has the support you need for skiing injuries

We hope that this guide can help you to have a fantastic skiing holiday and come home refreshed and without injury.

Unfortunately some people will return home with a skiing injury. This can include: knee ligament injuries, broken or fractured bones of the hand, wrist, clavicle, lower or upper leg and arms, muscular and soft tissue injury, bruising or dislocation.

If this is the case, we are here to help. We have tailored physiotherapy programmes to aid your recovery, as well as highly experienced consultant orthopaedic surgeons who regularly diagnose or treat patients with bone and joint skiing injuries.

Contact us for more information! 

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