Fall’s at its golden peak in our ski playgrounds, but the moment is coming when the snow flies and you take your first few strides of the season—only to find you’ve lost the ease and balance you had last spring.
Losing some of our form, strength, or balance over the summer is expected. But, with some mindfulness and easy exercises, even the most casual cross-country skier can improve their balance and be ready for the season in just a few short weeks.
Even more committed skiers who’ve been cross-training all summer can benefit from giving a little love to the balance aspect of their training. After all, it’s easier for super-strong athletes to muscle through any awkwardness or challenge early-season skiing brings—but it’s not the smart way or most enjoyable.
If you need a nudge to focus on your balance, here’s food for thought:
3 Reasons Why You Need Better Balance as a Nordic Skier
- Efficiency. Good balance leads to a better stance, and a better stance helps you recruit power and conserve energy, shaving seconds off your time. For a beginner, this eliminates suffering, especially in spots like short, sharp hill climbs or less-than-perfect grooming conditions.
- Agility. Agility demands strong balance, strength, speed, and coordination. The more agile the skier, the more beautiful the skiing—think smooth turns, graceful transitions, and stability in changing conditions, like snow to ice.
- Injury prevention. Better balance leads to more joint stability. According to multiple studies from the Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen (and you know these guys know their Nordic skiing), stabilized joints are 45% less prone to injury.
5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Balance for Better Skiing
- Add some yoga poses to your workout. Warrior 1, Eagle, and Chair strengthen the lower body to help aid balance, while Bird Dog builds stability in the core.
- Enjoy agility sports. Call it cross-training or fun—soccer, gymnastics, pickleball, and alpine skiing all help boost balance and agility.
- Try Pilates. It works on improving body awareness, core strength, and symmetry, all of which are substantial balance boosters. Bonus: Most athletes struggle with lopsidedness, guarding against injury, or overcompensating with strength. Pilates will help you assess your posture, alignment, and movement.
- Close your eyes. This is easy—you can do it at work, at home, in the checkout line, or waiting for your coffee. Yet, closing our eyes challenges our balance because our brains rely on visual information to help fine-tune our sense of where we are spatially in the world.
- Hop on a balance device. Bosu balls, balance discs, and even a rolled-up yoga mat are all excellent tools for practicing standing one-legged, which will mimic the shifting of weight from ski to ski that XC skiing demands.
What else is on your fall to-do list? If you haven’t ordered your season punch pass yet, now’s the time. You can try 10 different XC resorts with 18 trail passes and save $1,200.