The spring transition from ski boots to trainers

What do we need to be thinking about and doing to stay injury free this summer?

trail running

Well what an unusual time this is! It has to be said, we did not expect to be writing this article so early in the year, but here we are. While a lot of us are stuck at home and are limited to running as our means of exercise, it seems to be the perfect time. Personally, here at BeFit Apps, we are still hopeful for some late spring skiing, but meanwhile let’s prepare ourselves for those summer alpine trails.

It is unfortunately very common for us as physiotherapists to see a lot of ankle sprains amongst those winter mountain enthusiasts returning to running as the snow starts to melt.

Skiing, touring, ski mountaineering – these activities all involve ski boots and a similar repetitive body position. We could talk for hours on this subject, however there are three main problematic areas we will elaborate on in this article;

  • The predominantly hip flexed position
  • The reduced ankle range of movement in ski boots
  • The reduced need for dynamic ankle stability in ski boots

Why is this relevant?

Ankle and hip mobility are crucial for running, to achieve an ideal running technique and gait pattern. It is also going to help allow good body alignment, adequate stride length and absorption, reducing strain on multiple areas of the body.

Dynamic ankle stability and proprioception is the ability to correct the ankles alignment while moving, protecting the surrounding structures from direct injury. For example, lateral ankle sprains. A good dynamic ankle stability can help to reduce this risk. While we do still use our ankle stabilisers in ski boots, we are unable to do this using our ankles full range of movement, which is needed while running.

Here are a few examples of exercises we can do to prepare ourselves:

Hip flexor stretches

  • Low lunge – One leg in front of the other, lower your back knee to the ground, reach arms above your head. Keep hips facing forward, tuck tail bone under. Feel a stretch in your groin and anterior hip region.

(Hold 20 Seconds, repeat every few hours)

  • High lunge– as above, however this time straighten your back leg. Note, try not to over arch you lower back to maximise the stretch in your hip flexors.

Ankle stability

  • Single leg standing with eyes shut- Try to stay as still as you can and aim to hold this for up to 60 seconds each leg.  To progress stand on; a pillow, sofa cushion, mattress, mattress with duvet!
  • Single leg stand challenged -Throwing and catching a ball while standing on one foot at a fixed lateral angle, so the ankle is not in its neutral position.
  • Dial test A– Standing on one slightly flexed leg, reach with one hand as far as you can to the ground to the ‘North, South, East and West,’ then repeat with the other hand. Repeat this on the other foot.

compass point balance exercise for running

  • Dial Test B– Now try the above exercise, however reach with your foot.

Ankle Mobility

  • Soleus stretches– One leg in front of the other, bend back knee and ankle until you feel a stretch in your lower calf.
  • Gastrocnemius stretches– One leg in front of the other, straighten your back knee and bend the front, lean forwards as much as you can until you feel a stretch in your calf.

(back to old school P.E, keep it simple. Hold stretches for 20 seconds each leg, repeat every few hours)

If this has been of interest to you, you may like to try our RunFit programme, designed for you by our team of experienced sports physiotherapists and strength and conditioning coaches.

Check out RunFit

Francesca Pioli
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