The Home Stretch

For an injury-free season on the slopes, limber up before you go

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IT’S DAY ONE, ski season 2004–2005: You dropped your tax refund on some sweet new gear, spent the summer building tree-trunk thighs on the squat rack, and now you’re making your first turns on real snow. Then—kapow!—you hit an unexpected powder trough and get twisted into a human pretzel. What comes next? You either (A) absorb the hit, snap back into balance, and continue the run, or (B) hear that woeful pop, go bleary-eyed with pain, and resign yourself to a winter of physical therapy. Which sounds better to you? For a full season of mountain fun, you need more than rock-hard legs: The key is elasticity.

“Power and explosive strength mean nothing if you can’t flex,” says Per Lundstam, manager of strength and conditioning for the U.S. Ski Team. “Inflexibility not only puts you at greater risk for torn ligaments, sprains, and other injuries; it could make you a slower skier or snowboarder as well.”

To avoid this fate, you gotta do the drill: Perform the following stretches three days per week, starting six weeks before the year’s first ski run and continuing through the warm days of springtime corn.

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