Avoiding injuries in Winter Sports

By the SAC’s health and wellness professional Dr. Michael Li, DACRB

It’s winter time! It’s also time to dust off those skis and snowboards and get ready for the slope. Before you head out, try out these exercises to get your ski legs ready.

Hip hinge/ box squat

Why do the hip hinge? This exercise helps prepare you to “groove” the hip movement pattern and keeps the low back strong when you are going down the slope.

 Your starting position:

  • Start from a chair or a high box or back of a sofa
  • Use a dowel (or something similar) and make sure the back of your head, the upper-midback, and the tailbone are touching the dowel. This is what we called the “neutral spine” position.

 The movement:

  • Get up from the sitting position while maintaining the three points contact mentioned above, and sit back down.
  • You may also feel the small of your back pushes or “round” against your lower hand. Try not to let that happen.
  • Slow and control is the key here, especially when you try to sit back down.


  • 10-12 reps/ set; 2x/day (see Fig.1)


Hip Airplane

Why do the hip airplane? To be able to control your pelvic position while moving at the hip joint. This exercise is going to help strengthen your hips and spare the knees while you are going down the slope.

 Your starting position:

  • Maintain the three points contact like you did in the last exercise

 The movement:

  • Lean forward on one leg while maintaining the three points contact.
  • Move back & forth in this direction (the middle picture at fig.2)
  • If you feel comfortable and balanced while going back & forth, you can start rotating at the hip and “spin” your chest and belly button together. Maintain the three points of contact.
  • Rotate side to side at the hip like the picture on the right side at fig.2)


10-12 reps/ set; 2-3x/day (see Fig.2)



Side to side hop:

Why do the side to side hop? This exercise is going to help you stabilize your hips, so your knees do not twist too much. Less twisting at the knees = less strains on the knees = happy knees

 Your starting position:

  • Pretend you are a speed skater, standing on one leg

 The movement:

  • Hop to the side and land on the other land, softly.
  • Try to “stick” the landing, before you hop back onto the other side.
  • Keep the knee and the ankle aligned when you land.
  • You should feel your glutes (buttocks) working


10-12 reps/ set; 2-3x/day (see Fig.3)



Practice common sense on the slopes and have fun out there. Happy Holidays!!

Dr. Li has been taking care of the SAC staff and members since 2010. You can find him at the lobby performing injury screen for members every 3rd Tuesday of the month. His practice, Mobility Plus Sports Rehab, is conveniently located about 10 minute walk from the SAC. You can find out more about him and his clinic at mobilityplussportsrehab.com. He can be reached by info@mobilityplussportsrehab.com.  



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