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Please Your Knees: The Exercises

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Single Leg Squat with Side Reach

“This exercise offers a great opportunity to focus on a movement off-snow that occurs regularly on-snow, says Knowles. When you lose your downhill ski, you usually have to recover on the inside foot; this drill mimics that movement. Master it, and you’ll boost your chances of recovering—with your ACL intact—from just such a situation.

How: Begin in a ski-stance position, knees slightly bent as if you were standing in ski boots, feet hip-width apart. Keeping your back flat and weight distributed evenly on one foot, drop down into a squat position, stopping when your knee hits 70—90 degrees. As you lower yourself, reach out to the side with your opposite foot. Tap the floor with that foot, but make sure you don’t transfer any weight to it. Quickly return to the start position by pulling in the reaching leg and transitioning to a “ski-boots-on stance. Repeat on the same leg for 20 seconds.

Overhead Double Leg SquatThis fast-moving exercise enhances quad, glute, and hamstring strength. By holding a stick overhead, you’ll also work on postural strengthening in the back and shoulders. “To decrease the risk of falling—thereby decreas-ing the risk of injury—you need to enhance postural strength and balance, says Knowles. “The better your athletic posture, the better your balance will be.

How:Begin in a ski stance, knees bent. Holding a stick above your head with your arms straight, quickly drop into a squat position, until you reach 90 degrees. Return to standing and repeat without stopping. If that arm position is too hard, put your hands behind your head, elbows out. Do one rep per second for 20 seconds. “This is a fast movement, says Knowles. “Quick movements develop better eccentric strength than slow movements.

Combination LungeThis double forward- and lateral-lunge is all about balance and strength. Get it down, and Moats says you’ll develop the finesse to handle anything the slope throws your way.

How: Begin in a ski stance on your left foot. With your hands on your hips, lunge forward onto your right foot until your right knee is at 90 degrees. Push back to the starting position. Staying on your left foot, immediately lunge laterally onto your right foot, to a 70- to 90-degree position. Imagine you are applying pressure to the outside ski. Keep your left leg straight and don’t allow your left knee to drop inside. Push back toward the starting position. Remain standing on the left foot and repeat, linking one lunge to the next for 20 seconds, or doing as many as you can with correct technique.

Shark LegsThis exercise hits all the major muscles in your legs and glutes, and it will bolster your stability on your skis. It also takes some coordination and balance—the same skills that will keep you upright when you’re hurling down the slopes. “When I was at Dartmouth, I introduced this to some football types, and they were crying—they couldn’t do it, says Moats.

How: Start in a ski stance with hands on your hips, balancing on the right foot. Reach forward with your left foot and contract your left quad. Immediately bring your left foot behind you without lowering it to the ground. Extend back until your hamstrings and glutes engage. Quickly reverse the movement. Continue for 20 seconds. “It’s critical that your standing leg stays flexed and loaded at the ankle and knee to add stability and to generate the burn, says Knowles.