Grommet was bad enough. Now it's gimp?
The great thing about snowboarding is that you never have to worry about the paths of your planks diverging just uphill from the base of a 70-foot pine. But there is a downside to having both feet strapped to one fat board: It positions a snowboarder asymmetrically, causing the hamstring of the back leg to work harder than the one up front—a sure ticket to lower-back problems. One way to compensate—and to guarantee improved performance and balance—is to build a strong trunk. It will keep your upper body from going one way and your legs from going the other. "You really want to train stability into that core," says the Mayo Clinic's Ed Laskowski, who's conducted pioneering research on snowboarding injuries. He suggests these drills.
ONE-LEGGED LATERAL JUMPShifting your weight side-to-side as you do in snowboarding, like a baseball player slinking off of first, takes some work. To practice, pick a line down the center of the floor and crouch to its left side. Lunge to the right, landing on the right foot first at the other side of the line; pause; and reverse back to the other side, leading with your left leg. Repeat for 30 seconds and do three sets.
SWISS-BALL BRIDGEWith your hips on the Swiss ball and your feet on the floor, walk your legs forward, rolling on the ball until it rests beneath your shoulder blades. Keep your hips level and hold the position until the quivering in your abdominals begins to compromise the stability of your pelvis (as with most balance-building moves, quality trumps quantity). The key is to build endurance in the abdominal muscle groups by fatiguing them, which is essentially what the hill will be attempting to do in its own special way. Do three sets. Should the drill come to bore you, straighten one leg.
STANDING BICEPS CURLLittle known fact: Done correctly—back straight, no rocking—this lift does much more than simply target your arms. It provides a healthy secondary service as a no-frills abdominal workout. Because it asks your abdominals to keep your upright body stable while your extremities are hard at work, the barbell curl more closely approximates the job asked of them in sports than, say, those ab-rollers that you started seeing at yard sales last summer. Do three sets of 15 for each arm.
Balancing on a Bongo Board (see "Ticket to Ride," below), have a partner huck an eight-pound medicine ball at your chest. Difficulty disclaimer: This is an advanced use of what is already the most demanding piece of balance gear on the market, save for the tightrope. Start by simply balancing on the thing.
Paul Scott wrote "So You Want to Be A Superstar," about summer's coolest moves, in the July issue.
Photographs by Corey Sorensen; Illustrations by Phillip Anderson