Ah December…temperatures drop, the days are short and this is the time of year when many of you will be looking forward to the annual skiing or snowboarding holiday. Whether you’re a black run regular or this is your first year on the nursery slopes some pre-ski preparation can work wonders to prevent the all too common muscle soreness and stiffness that afflicts so many. It will also help to prevent common injuries like lower back pain and knee problems. Here are areas where Pilates can help you enjoy your time on the slopes to the maximum: Flexibility If you aren’t supple and relaxed then your movement on the skis will be impeded which can lead to injury. If you fall and your body is stiff you are more likely to suffer a serious muscle injury. Learning some simple techniques to release tension in muscles can make all the difference. Posture An easy, relaxed yet good posture is vital if you wish to ski for long periods and with out injury. Pilates teaches the process of holding good posture and learning to build good movement patterns – making it the perfect discipline for skiers. Muscle Endurance Skiing requires good strength in your arms and your legs. Working against your own body weight and holding certain positions within the exercise repertoire helps to build those muscles so that you can ski in comfort day after day. Balance and Co-ordination Pilates builds your body awareness which improves co-ordination. Many of the Pilates exercises continually challenge your centre of gravity which encourages better balance – an essential when you are travelling at speed down the slopes! Core Stability Skiers require strong torso, hip and shoulder muscles to ensure efficient movement and postural control when skiing. Pilates helps to create this stability so you can ski for long periods. There’s no doubt that a general Pilates class will be beneficial – however finding a specific class or having a 121 session tailored to your particular needs will have additional benefit. In short you need to focus on stretching the essential muscles and joints you will use whilst ski-ing. Work on your balance and focus on exercises to strengthen the buttocks, calves thighs and upper arms. These are the muscles that work hardest during ski-ing. And for those of you with your own ski gear take note….. most people turn up to Pilates in trainers, or bare feet. Olympic Skier Julia Mancuso attends classes in her ski boots! ‘Pilates helps my brain remember correct body positioning for when I’m on the slopes. I’ve been injury free for three years now, thanks to neuro-kinetic Pilates‘.