Here in Bend, OR outdoor activities are incredibly popular. One of the most popular is skiing! How could it not be, we have Mount Bachelor practically on our doorstep! At Resolve Physical Therapy we have a unique perspective–not only do we go and play on the mountain, we get to see injuries that happen and we know which muscles need extra strength training for skiing, making the most out of every ski or snow adventure you go on. 

B&W photo of skiiers

Before we get into the details of injury and strengthening, I wanted to share some ski trivia with you. Did you know… 

Astronaut Harrison Schmitt said that astronauts travelling to the moon should learn the art of cross country skiing as he believed that the techniques involved in skiing will help walking on the moon easier and envisioned ‘lunar skiing holidays’ in the future.

I don’t know about you, but I think a skiing holiday on the moon would be awesome!! 


Skiing is one of the fastest non-motorized sports on land. Skiers can ski faster than the average car and this was proven by Simone Origone in 2006 that set a world speed skiing record at 156.2 miles per hour (compared to 120mph of a car).

With speeds like that, it’s no wonder that there are so many serious injuries that can happen while skiing! We’re going to talk about shoulder injuries today. 


Shoulder Injuries

The most common shoulder injuries during skiing and snowboarding are rotator cuff strains, dislocations, and clavicle fractures.  They usually happen when a person falls down and puts their arm out to catch themselves!

Rotator cuff strains are a muscle injury that will cause your shoulder to hurt, be worse when you raise your arm up, and you might not be able to lift it as high as usual! We have an article all about rotator cuffs! Check it out here.

A shoulder dislocation happens when your arm bone comes out of its socket. Many times it will go back on its own, but sometimes a doctor will relocate it.  Most likely you will be in a sling for a period of time to let the damaged tissues heal.

A clavicle fracture is the MOST common and will be quite painful with pain extending down into your arm. You will often have more bruising and swelling involved too!  This injury also lands you in a sling!

And after almost all these injuries Physical Therapy is warranted to improve your range of motion, re-strengthen the injured muscles, and prevent it from being too easily injured from other activities again in the future! 

The best thing you can do to PREVENT these injuries from happening is by STRENGTH TRAINING for skiing. 

 Ski Tip: Relax Your Toes. Weird, right? Well, did you know that it’s common to clench your toes when you get nervous. It’s totally unconscious! When you focus on relaxing your toes, it loosens up the joints in your entire lower body and keeps it ready to absorb variations in terrain. So keep those toes relaxed!

Here are some exercises you can do to help strengthen your body before and during ski season. You can also check out this video on our YouTube channel to see more exercises in action!


Exercises for Strengthening

Check out the video below to see what we recommend in strength training for skiing. Each exercise has been explained below the video.


Lateral ski jumps

Lateral ski jumps will work on POWER and BALANCE!  It is a very dynamic movement which means mechanics become trickier!  Make sure you are landing “soft” and with a bent knee.  Shoot for doing 10 times to each side!  Modification: You can make this easier by not jumping as far each way or you can make it harder by jumping farther and coming into a deeper knee bend when you land!

Illustration of the lateral ski jump exercise

Split Squat

Split squats help you strengthen all muscles in your lower extremities and require a lot of control and stability.  It’s important to keep in mind not to let your knees cave in.  Always remember QUALITY over QUANTITY! Never continue with poor mechanics due to fatigue.  STOP, take a break, and begin again when you are ready.  

Modification: You could make it easier by not going as deep into a squat.

Illustration of the split squat exercise

Wall Sit

Sit back against the wall with your back flat to engage your core, your shoulders back to have good posture, and your hips and knees at 90 degrees. The main muscle you are working with this exercise is your quadriceps muscle which is heavily activated going downhill skiing! Try and hold for at least 1 minute.

Illustration of the wall sit exercise

Single Leg Squats

You need to have equal leg strength so that you are strong in your ski turns going BOTH directions. Typically we find someone is much weaker in one glute (aka butt muscle) compared to the other! And this will put you at risk for an injury, such as an ACL tear!

Illustration of the single leg squat exercise, strength training for skiing

Dead Bugs, Plank, & Inchworm

The core is constantly engaging when you’re downhill or cross country skiing so you want a strong one! You also want one that can last throughout the day, not just the first couple of runs! If you’re interested in more core exercises, check out our Core Exercises playlist on YouTube.

Illustration of the dead bug exercise, strength training for skiingIllustration of a plank exerciseIllustration of the Inchworm exercise, strength training for skiing






Do you feel like you could use some help with strength training for skiing? Have you experienced a skiing injury this season or still feel the effects from a previous injury? Physical Therapy is a great option to improve your range of motion, re-strengthen the injured muscles, and prevent it from being too easily injured from even other activities again in the future! Give us a call and we can talk about your options today!


What our Patients are Saying:

 “My surgeon referred me to Resolve Physical Therapy, after a total knee replacement. I worked with the Therapists there for 4 months and saw steady progress to the point of being fully functional again. Both, Jen and Jenny, are experts in their field and have personally attended knee and hip surgeries to observe and understand the procedure and how it impacts the patient. During my rehab they were in constant contact with my surgeon over my progress. I felt that they listened to me and adjusted every session according to my feedback. Besides all that, they are a pleasure to be around. I will miss working with them.”     -Alexis