Warmup for Injury Prevention and Performance

posted Mar 4, 2016, 9:08 AM by Eric Garayoa   [ updated Mar 10, 2016, 3:43 PM ]

Proper Warmup: Why is the expectation different for Alpine Racing, should it be?

All team sports go through some unifying activity that resembles a warm up, so why is the skiing culture any different? It is a physical sport, it is a "High Impact" sport requiring coordination and concentration to perform our best. Without a proper warm up, we are without question more susceptible to injury. Still, the big question is, “Why do a warm up”? The warm up and preparation period in common youth sports such as soccer or football is second nature, it is a given. Parents drop their athlete off at the beginning for training, warm-up ensues and scrimmaging or skill development curriculum proceeds a half hour later. Culturally we must bridge the gap between the expectation of sport training and competition preparedness in Alpine Skiing and other traditional sports.

As for the culture of skiing, What makes our sport different? Perhaps the warm up went out the window as the rad colors of the 80’s and 90’s and one-piece snow suits came into play. Or, perhaps our cultural environment still places an emphasis on recreation and vacation as it relates to "skiing", we have certainly felt this to a large degree from our educators.  Logic to the contrary tells us as athletes, coaches and parents that the demands of this high impact sport, both the physical nature and the changing environment require a higher degree of preparation for both increased performance and injury prevention.

We have a culture of awesomeness for an immensely fun hobby. Although we must remember that while we partake in the hobby in our free time, we actively commit ourselves to the sport of Alpine Skiing. As athletes, we must accept the responsibilities of more focused “play” in order to become better skiers. 

According the U.S. Ski Team at the USSA Alpine Skiing Strength and Conditioning Symposium (2014) Any comprehensive warm up program should include: a cardio vascular aspect, lengthening of the muscular system being used via mobility movements, and dynamic movements. Further, underlying any aspect of the warm up is the mental preparation for the training ahead.

Proper Warmup: Injury Mitigation and Maximized Performance

“The warm-up drives physiological and neuromuscular systems to create compliance between the mind and the muscles.” – Emily Nolan, 2015 NCAA National Conference 1

                The warm up is the first step in any training session, whether on the hill or in the weight room. The importance of the warm up is multi-faceted; physiologically it prepares the body for the upcoming physical exertion by increasing the body temperature, synovial fluid within the joints, range of motion of the skeletal , muscular, and connective systems and increases the force production of the muscles through a systematic coordination of the neuromuscular system. Mentally, it is the time in which the team unifies towards the common goal of increasing their abilities, creating unity and preparation for the upcoming training or competition while increasing mental focus.  In order to preform our best, we must be under a certain amount of stress. Too little stress and we underperform. Too much stress and we fail to perform at our best.

                Starting with injury prevention; numerous studies have indicated a reduction of injury with a proper warm up. 3-7 In fact the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body for many foreign soccer leagues initiated a standard warm up for any level player eleven years or older called “FIFA 11+”. (Figure 1) It is divided into three tiers dependent on the movement ability of the athlete. The implementation, in review, has shown great promise in the reduction of athletic injuries. 3,-,7 One scientific review illustrated that there was up to a 70% reduction of injury when implementing the FIFA 11+ warm up.6

                Other organizations have implemented standard warm ups. The United States Navy posts a standard group training warm up (Figure 2a and 2b).9 There is growing evidence of the efficacy of standard warm ups within other organizations as well; however due to the lack of consistency within warm ups in other sports, unlike the FIFA 11+, there is limiting scientific based research. None the less, any expert will illustrate the importance of a warm up to increase the performance of athletes from a proper warm up. 1 In fact Emily Nolan, who spoke at the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s National Conference in 2015, illustrates ways of maximizing the returns from a simple ten to fifteen minute warm up. 

by Performance Manager, Rob Daniels, CSCS


1.       Nolan E. 2015 Mobilize, Activate, Stimulate – Maximizing Your Warm-Ups (DVD). Orlando (FL), National Strength and Conditioning Association. c2015.

2.       Sports Medicine Information. 2009. United Kingdom: © Sports Medicine; [2009; March 3, 2015]. http://www.nsmi.org.uk/articles/warm-up.html

3.       Grooms DR, Palmer T, Onate J, Myer GD, Grindstaff T. 2013. Soccer-Specific Warm-Up and Lower Extremity Injury Rates in Collegiate Male Soccer Players. Journal of Athletic Training. J Athl Train. 2013 Nov-Dec;48(6):782-9

4.       Soomro N, Sanders R, Hackett D, Hubka T, Ebrahimi S, Freeston J, Cobley S. 2015. The Efficacy of Injury Prevention Programs in Adolescent Team Sports: A Meta-anaylsis. Am J Sports Med. 2015 Dec 16

5.       Owoeye OB, Akinbo SR, Tella BA, Olawale OA. 2014. Efficacy of the FIFA 11+ Warm-Up Programme in Male Youth Football: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial. J Sports Sci Med. 2014 May 1;13(2):321-8. eCollection 2014.

6.       Narengo NC, Meneses_Echavez JF, Ramirez-Velez R, Cohen DD, Tovar G, Bautista JE. 2014. The Impact of the FIFA 11+ training Program on Injury Prevention in Football Players: a Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Nov 19;11(11):11986-2000

7.       Soligard T, Nilstatd A, Steffen K, Myklebust G, Holme I, Dvorak J, Bahr R, Andersen TE. 2010. Compliance With a Comprehensive Warm-Up Programme To Prevent injuries in Youth Football. Br J Sports Med. 2010 Sep;44(11):787-93

8.       The “FIFA 11+”. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. [1994-2016; March 4, 2016]. http://www.fifa.com/development/medical/players-health/FIFA11/

9.       Group Physical Training. United States Navy. [;March 4, 2016]. http://www.navyfitness.org/search/navy%20group%20series

10.    2014 USSA Alpine Strength and Conditioning Symposium: Summary Papers. © USSA; [May 18-19, 2014; March 4, 2016]. http://my.ussa.org/sites/default/files/documents/athletics/freestyle/2014-15/documents/Summary%20Papers%202014%20SC%20Symposium.pdf

Championship Season

posted Mar 4, 2016, 9:06 AM by Eric Garayoa   [ updated Mar 6, 2016, 9:40 AM ]

Championship Season: Peaking at the Appropriate Time

Peaking at the Right Time

Mental and physical preparation for championship season

By Ashleigh Boulton

As our athletes stand, poised in the start gate, all coaches and parents are wondering the same thing…are they ready? Mental and physical fitness are equally important components of a successful championship athlete. Not only is it important for athletes to strive for optimal mental and physical fitness, it is also important to nail the timing. An average SVST athlete has logged over 70 days on and off the snow training gates, powder skiing, working with Rob during dry-land sessions, and watching video. We aim to have our athletes peak during this period of the season, but there is a fine line between mentally and physically peaking and burning out.

The US Tennis Association compared an athlete’s approach to championship season to a car merging onto the highway… too slow and you’ll get crushed by oncoming cars, too fast and you’re forced to hit the breaks. Physically, it is important for our athletes to fend off over-use injuries through proper preparation and recovery including warm-ups and cool-downs to prevent having to pump the breaks and even more important, mentally, to maintain an active love of the sport.

Nutrition plays a huge role in fueling muscle growth and sustains energy levels during training. SVST athletes should be focusing on eating a healthy, full breakfast or lunch to support their morning or afternoon training sessions. Frequently, young athletes are unfamiliar with the nutrition component of athletic performance and forget to eat enough food to ski a full three-hour session. Small snacks throughout the morning can help athletes remain focused and maintain a steady energy level.

Mental preparation for championship season is arguably tougher than the hours spent in the gym and on the hill. Our athletes are just starting to discover the impact of a positive attitude and play with the concept of a “race-ready” mindset. Each athlete prepares differently for race day, but it is important that there is some form of preparation. Some athletes focus on consciously relaxing while others work to find the fire and energy needed to spark their race performance.

According to the US Ski Team Performance Psychologists, younger athletes (U10-U12) have not developed the ability to track and fully understand their progress. Therefore, as we enter championship season it is important to instill confidence in younger athletes, constantly reminding them of their season long progress and development. Re-directing their focus from results based thinking to process-based thinking is important in helping them mentally cope with both good and bad results.

Lastly, it is important to remember to enjoy championship season and leave the stress of competition off the hill. There are uncontrollable factors in ski racing, like any other sport, and the goal is to overcome the unexpected with skills developed throughout the season. Be flexible, have fun, and ski fast. 

Injury Mitigation and Recovery

posted Feb 20, 2016, 1:54 PM by Eric Garayoa   [ updated Mar 3, 2016, 11:47 AM ]

Injury Mitigation and Injury Recovery

Ski Racing Magazine - 3 Key Steps to Injury Recovery in Ski Racing

In response to the article (linked above) regarding Ski Racing specific injury, Performance Manager Rob Daniels, CSCS had this to say:

I love articles such as this. Any information I try to take in and evaluate. As it relates to the shaped ski, there is a general lack of mobility and strength in most athletes. When you look at the increasing lack of strength and mobility from increased sitting in children (tablets, phones, video games, vs. being outside and playing as a parenting modality) and the fact that shaped skis make edging so much easier instead of having to actually force the ski to do what you want. I feel like it’s a recipe for poor skill development and increased exposure to injury.


If you look at the kinetic chain (from the bottom up) ankles = mobility, knees = stability, hips = mobility, low back = stability, thoracic spine = mobility, scapula = stability, glenohumoral joint = mobility. If one of these joints doesn’t maintain their mobility or stability the problem tends to move up or down the kinetic chain causing problems. Take for instance the hip. If the hip joint loses mobility (from sitting too much) the athlete compensates in a squat by driving the knees forward placing stress on the ACL. Not to mention it’s probably going to cause low back pain by rounding of the lumbar spine. So, short story long, sitting or weakness therefrom is going to cause “GS Back”.

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