Why Do My Thighs Hurt When I Ski?

Many people who begin skiing (and even those who have skied a while), complain about their legs hurting – specifically their thighs (quadriceps). That’s partly because you haven’t trained those muscles and it’s partly because your skiing technique could be better. All it takes is a little knowledge.

I can help you fix this problem in about 5 minutes or less!

After learning to ski the right way myself and after teaching it, I can confidently say that there’s more to skiing than just putting on skis and going down the hill. I’ve spent the last 14 years re-learning skiing and I still pick up more and more.

Recently, during the off-season, I learned something that really improved my skiing and it’s not even about skiing!

What I learned was… the right way to do squats.

If you’re wondering what muscles should hurt after skiing, it should not be your quadriceps (thighs) but more your glutes and hamstrings. This is what I learned when my trainer really worked with me on my squats – along with the next 3 classes doing a lot of squats.

When I used to do squats (until recently), I could do like 30 pretty quickly. With doing them the right way now, I can now do like half as many. So, they’re different and when you do them the right way, it’ll take more work because you need to get rid of some bad habits.

Here’s how ya do it:

You want a bigger butt!

And here’s what these videos online don’t tell you (the secret sauce):

  • Less quadriceps
  • A lot more hamstrings, glutes, and abs
  • Fire all of them up before you start, then keep them fired up
  • Knees behind toes
  • Go slow down and go slow up

Squat wth barbellLike I said, doing 10-15 should be a challenge. Adding weight actually does help you do them better and you get more strength training that way – along with better range of motion.

You’re going to use some of your quads but not as much. They’re just there to assist – not be the main muscles being used… no way!

Now go do 200 of them to start building that muscle memory. Then, go take that out on the snow when you go skiing. It should feel a lot different and your quadriceps (thighs) won’t burn anymore. You’re now letting much bigger muscles take on the forces and weight of your upper body instead of just your thighs.

That means no more burning out your legs!

With skiing (when we get on the snow), we modify this just a little:

  • Weight more forward – on the balls of your feet
  • Instead of the hips going back, they go forward – feel your shins rest against the boot cuff

And at the bottom of your turn, don’t lock your downhill leg. Keep it flexed a little. When you lock it, it actually takes more work to fire it back up – keep the tension there. We call this “functional tension” because with some tension, you’re able to do more, quicker… which is what you need with skiing sometimes.

Remember, there’s a difference between sore muscles and pain. Soreness is good – you’ve just broken down muscles and they’re rebuilding. You’re getting stronger!

Try this and let me know how it works for you – it works for me! Even getting up from a chair will feel different!

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