How to up your cross country ski A-game

Even our favorite Winter sports such as XC Skiing can encourage lopsided and uneven muscle development, and that is why Pilates can be such an effective cross training method.

Pilates works on developing your body awareness so that you are always working out in optimal postural alignment. Standing in good alignment is challenging, but maintaining good alignment while you move is even more difficult. However, no matter what kind of athlete you are, you can simultaneously increase your power and minimize your risk of injury with Pilates training.

Cross-country skiing gives you a full body workout but if your muscles aren’t prepared for the challenge you risk straining them or even long-term injury. With the ski season fast-approaching, now is a good time to start thinking about building up your body’s strength and conditioning. This is where Pilates can really help.

Not only does Pilates help you to build those all-important leg and arm muscles, crucial to cross-country skiing, but it also helps you to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, improving your balance, agility and breathing. Practising Pilates increases your self-awareness, making you more mindful of how your body works so that you can get the best out of it, both physically and mentally.

Building a strong core

Pilates teaches you to organize your movement from the center out. What this means is that it focuses your attention on to your core, making you a stronger, more adaptable skier. With additional core strength you can improve your edging and transform a powerful line of energy into the skis. You will also learn how to breathe properly through your movement, reducing shortness of breath when working hard.

Refining your alignment

Doing Pilates will also improve your body’s alignment, vital for good movement in skiing. You will learn how to apply pressure through your feet to turn while maintaining a quiet torso, improving your agility and balance. Working on creating a good posture will also improve your skiing technique, ensuring you get the most out of every stride.

Working Pilates into your training schedule will also pay dividends on reducing the impact skiing has on your back, hips and knees, making you more energy efficient and reducing wear and tear on your joints.

A healthy mind

A key benefit of Pilates is not only does it help get your body into peak condition, it gives you the mental awareness needed to achieve your goals. You will improve your mind-body connection to a level where you are conscious of every muscle being used. Having this ability to consciously engage your muscles when you need to will help you to improve your biomechanics efficiency, as well as reducing any pain.

What the experts say:

“I started doing Pilates a couple of years ago at the age of 63. I did it twice a week to prepare for the Masters World Cup of Cross Country Skiing and went on to win a silver and two bronze medals. This was miles ahead of any previous results. I’m going to compete this year in Switzerland and will do Pilates again, starting in early fall, to improve core strength and balance, as well as much needed flexibility.”

     -Lyle Wilson, former Canadian cross-country ski coach

“Pilates helped me to build a strong core and to learn how to optimize my breathing while racing. Sometimes we tend to breathe quicker and shallower when we work hard, like in a ski race. Pilates helped me to learn how to breathe deep and use my lungs closer to my VO2 max in ski racing.”

     -Dasha Gaiazova, former Canadian Olympic Team cross-country skier

“As head Nordic coach for XC Bragg Creek and former competitive skier, I have had the opportunity to meet current and retired national level cross country ski and bike athletes and learn of their training techniques. Last spring I attended an international coaching clinic via Cross Country Canada. I learned within the cross country ski and biathlon community (nationally, and internationally) that many athletes are using Pilates as a complementary form of training for their sport. That is what first lead me to approach Cores and Effect, and together we have formed a new partnership. Starting this fall, I’m excited that our members will have the opportunity to experience Pilates. They will gain more body awareness and the classes will assist in improving their strength, range of motion and breathing. I am also looking forward to further enhancing my own personal training and body awareness through Pilates and discovering in what ways dynamic functional movement training can improve my body in motion, whether it be through sports or everyday activities.”

     -Flora Giesbrecht, Head Nordic Coach, XC Bragg Creek.

Start your journey

If you want to tackle the trails with gusto this winter and achieve your optimal potential in cross-country skiing then try Pilates – you won’t regret it.

To find out more and to book a session tailored to suit your individual needs contact Amy at Cores & Effect Pilates: