Backcountry skiing in the sawtooths


24 October 2023

Hey there.

Want to start the season feeling strong and confident? Here are 5 exercise to help you feel stronger, stay out longer & avoid injury on the slopes.


Love a pelvic tilt/bridge combo!

My husband says pelvic tilts and bridges helps his back pain 100% of the time.

I like to think of the pelvis as the keystone of the body, the pelvis sits in the middle, the legs locomotor underneath and the torso rotates and moves above. If the pelvis is stuck or not moving well everything up and down the chain has the potential to get a little wonky.

TILTS: Begin laying on your back with your feet in a hip, knee, 2nd toe alignment. Start to arch your low back as you inhale through the nose, and then imprint the back into the mat as you exhale through the mouth. Remember to go slow, it’s about slowly moving your pelvis and low back. Simple as that.

BRIDGES: Begin with a pelvic tilt, as you imprint & exhale the low back begin to slowly lift your spine off the mat, vertebra by vertebra. Pause at the top, take an inhale, and lower vertebra by vertebra as you exhale, beginning the cycle with another inhale & tilt.

So simple and yet so powerful!!

What’s happening?? Tilts and bridges help build core control, improve hip mobility, bridges allows you to practice spinal mobility, and the breathing helps begin telling your body how to connect breath to movement.


Femur arcs & chest lift are two classic Pilates movements. I love them because of their great ability to strengthen the torso, challenge pelvic stability while the legs move through space and really feel the power of the breath to control movement.  

The deets.

Lay on your back, legs in a hip, knee 2nd toe alignment.  Find a neutral spine. Begin with an INHALE, expanding the ribs out to the side.  As you begin to EXHALE draw the pubic bone up towards the ribs as they draw together to activate the low belly. Once you feel like the low belly is active, begin to lift one leg to 90/90. INHALE again, and as you find the low belly connection on the EXHALE lift the 2nd leg to 90/90.  From the 90/90 position begin to arc the leg to the ground on the INHALE, and bring the leg up on an EXHALE.  If you feel like you have control over the low back (no arching) add in a chest lift on the EXHALE.  Repeat 8-10x or until you start to feel like your losing the stability through the low back.

How does this help you on the hill? Core control and stability are key to avoiding injury and staying in control as you move down the mountain. Hit some variable snow? Instead of it throwing you off and maybe to the ground, a strong core will keep you centered and absorb the unexpected bumps with control. Femur arcs are a great way to practice connecting your breath to movement.  Take the position, and spin upright, you’re walking uphill. This helps train the brain to exhale on the harder part, as you step. Magic!!


In this next exercise we’re going to get those glutes going while getting some extension through the hip joint and stabilization through the pelvis and spine. Yay!

Begin in quadruped and find a neutral spine.

ARCS: Inhale to prepare and as you begin to exhale begin to arc the leg, keeping the 90 degree bend.

Inhale as you return back to the beginning position. Repeat for 8-10 repetitions.

CIRCLES: Inhale to prepare, exhale as you begin to lift the leg out to the side, circling the knee behind, beginning to inhale as the knee starts to lower down to the mat. Repeat 8-10x. And reverse the direction, stirring the leg bone in the hip socket.  And remember to go SLOW, the deliciousness of this movement happens if you go slow. 

How does this help you on the mountain? Strong glutes and stable hips are key to happy knees and avoiding injury.  This combo of moves takes your hips through a wide range of motion, bringing blood flow and goodness to the hip capsule and strengthens the little stabilizer muscles, making for happy hips. HOORAY!!


Planks!! AHHH!!! People either love them or hate them. I love them! They give you so much bang for your buck. They work everything: core stability, arms, back, and legs. Since playing in the snow is also a full body endeavour, I highly recommend getting friendly with planks. This series adds in the variation of a hip dip, giving you the opportunity to connect the whole side body chain, from the shoulder to the hips to the knees to the ankle.

Most everyone has done planks before so here are just a few tips……..When setting up make sure your wrists or elbows are right under your shoulder.  Your collarbone is smiling forward and the shoulders are drawn away from the ears. Make sure you’re in a neutral spine, with tailbone reaching long. As you lower down to the ground, aka going with gravity, INHALE. And as you lift away from the ground EXHALE. This breath pattern helps activate the core to help with the hard part of the movement.   

How does this movement help me on the mountain? Challenging the core with the pull of gravity is a great way to mimic real life.  The plank works everything through the front side of the body and the side plank to hip dip connects the side body chain and backside.  This connection is important because we are constantly challenging the core and side body as we transition from one side to another as we turn on the snow.


Squat. Lunge. A dynamic leg combo

This is a classic combo for strength and endurance on the mountain. And in life.

Begin with 5 squats, hold for 5 pulses.

Step one foot back and hold low for 5 pulses. Repeat on the other side.

End with another round of squat pulses. Repeat 10x

Add extra awareness to this movement by:

1) focusing on recruiting your breath as you bend and straighten the knees.

2) check in with your bone stacked alignment through both the legs and torso, be careful not to lean too far forward.

Soooo it’s pretty obvious how this helps your skiing, but a few little nuances that mix this movement up from traditional weighted leg exercises.  Without the weight: you give the smaller muscles the chance to kick on, you are able to really focus on hip and pelvis alignment, and last but not least, breathing.  Use your breath here, train your body so it’s second nature to use your breath as you start to feel fatigue.  This way when you’re out in the mountains, your system is ready for any kind of challenge. 


This movement goes out to my husband, he loves a good hacky circle…..

Buuuuut little did he know it is a great way to work single leg balance, agility, endurance, stability & strength, while adding in some bonus hip mobility. 

To have a game of hacky with no hacky sack, stand with the feet in parallel, and begin bringing one leg up and tapping the heel with the opposite hand.  Spin the lifted leg around and tap the outside of the foot, end with reaching the leg behind and tapping the inside of the foot. REPEAT. Remember to breathe!!!

This movement, which can look silly, is super important on the slopes because we are constantly weight shifting between our legs and challenging our hip mobility as we transition back and forth.  Plus it’s fun to win a game of hacky against yourself.

Another great movement to keep our knees and hips healthy.







Adventures, Form, Movement

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