Limbering up before heading up the mountain is a great way to stay loose and prevent injury
So we put together four snowboarding stretches (plus one optional stretch) that are sure to get the blood flowing so you can have as much fun as possible right from the first drop-in. As a bonus, all of these stretches can be done while standing, so you can wait until the very last minute and do them all in the parking lot as you gear up.
The Importance of Stretching
When the stoke is high and you’re rushing to get out on the mountain, it’s important to remember that snowboarding is an aerobic activity that requires strength, agility, and flexibility. And on a cold morning, your body needs some time to warm up to peak performance in all of these areas. But it’s so much more than just increasing range-of-motion and preventing injury, stretching is also great for:
- Reducing muscle tension
- Improving circulation
- Increasing flexibility and coordination
- Facilitating body awareness
Note: When it comes to maximizing fun and safety, the pre-ride stretch is only one part of an equation that also includes a properly fitted snowboard helmet, a warm jacket and snow pants, and a solid plan (when to meet up, how to find help, where to go in an emergency).
Stretches for Snowboarders
Stretching is a great way to start your day on the mountain and can significantly improve your mood (spoiler: a quality stretch can feel really good). So here are five snowboarding stretches that you can use to warm up before heading out.
Burton’s 5 Snowboarding Stretches
- Hip Flexor Stretch
- Quadriceps Stretch
- Hamstring Stretch
- Shoulder Stretch
- Overhead Shoulder Stretch (Optional)
Length of Warm-up: 15 minutesThe first three stretches on the list focus on the lower body and the last two stretches on the list focus on the upper body, and the plan is designed to work complementary muscle groups and get you ready for a strenuous day of twisting and turning at high speeds on variable terrain.For a pre-ride warm up, focus on “dynamic stretching” and move your body in and out of each position several times instead of trying to hold each stretch in one position. With dynamic stretching, each stretch should last 60-90 seconds.
1) Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexors are a group of several muscles that connect your legs and torso and allow you to bend at the hips, lift your knees, and swivel from side to side at the waist. Obviously, all of these motions are very important for snowboarding so it’s critical to get these muscles warmed up properly. And one of the best ways to stretch your hip flexors is to do bodyweight lunges.
To do a bodyweight lunge, stand with both feet side by side. Next, step your right leg forward a full stride (about 24 inches/60 cm) and plant your foot firmly. Then, keeping your chest upright, shift your weight forward and bend both of your knees to a 90-degree angle so that your front knee is directly over your ankle (you can brace yourself on your front knee if you need to). Push through the stretch with your right foot and return back to the starting position. Alternate legs and repeat.
2) Quadriceps Stretch
The quadriceps (or quads) is a group of muscles on the front of the thigh that assists in extending the knee (straightening the leg). The quads do a ton of work when you snowboard, helping you power through turns, hold an edge, and even maintain balance. And while there are several popular ways to stretch these muscles, we generally recommend the standing quadriceps stretch.
To do a standing quadriceps stretch, stand with both feet side by side. Next, bend your right knee and bring your foot up behind you. Then, reach back with your right hand and grab your ankle, gently pulling your foot towards your bum until you feel the stretch. Release and return to standing. Alternate legs and repeat.
3) Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings are a group of muscles and tendons on the rear of the upper leg that assist in flexing the knee (bending the leg). The hamstrings are worked constantly while snowboarding and are especially important for executing jumping motions; and don’t forget that you’ll need loose hamstrings to bend over and strap in as well. A great way to warm up these muscles is with a standing hamstring stretch.
To do a standing hamstring stretch, stand with both feet side by side. Next, keeping both legs straight, bend at the waist and try to touch your toes until you feel the stretch on the back of your legs; breathe into the stretch. Then, slowly relax and return to standing.
4) Shoulder Stretch
The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body and contains 20 different muscles that work together to generate range-of-motion and control for the arm. And even though the snowboard is attached to your feet, you will move your arms around a lot while riding for stability and balance; and a great way to prevent shoulder injury and soreness is to make sure that they are properly warmed up.
To stretch your shoulders, stand in place with your arms at your sides. Next, take your right arm and bring it across the front of your chest, keeping it straight. Then, use your left arm to gently pull your right arm towards your body until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Release and return to the starting position. Alternate arms and repeat.
5) Overhead Shoulder Stretch (Optional)
Repeated intensive use of the muscles in the shoulders can cause wear that reduces elasticity and blood circulation, leading to stiffness and soreness. That is why it is critical to warm up the shoulders, even when participating in a lower body-dominant sport. One exercise that is great for maximizing flexibility and mobility for the shoulder muscles is the overhead shoulder stretch.
To do an overhead shoulder stretch, stand in place with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your right arm, bend it at the elbow, and place the palm of your hand on the back of your head (your elbow should be pointing straight up at the sky). Then, reach up and grab your right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it behind your head until you feel the stretch through your arm and into your shoulder. Release and return to the starting position. Alternate arms and repeat.
Pro tip: Hydration has been proven to increase strength, improve flexibility, and reduce post-activity soreness. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water while you stretch.
Including some post-snowboarding stretches in your day at the mountain will help elongate muscles and relieve tension while preventing soreness and increasing range-of-motion—all of which are good for overall health and long-term mobility. And the good news is that at the end of the day, you can simply go through the same stretching routine you did at the beginning of the day. However, for a post-ride cool down, focus on “static stretching” and move your body into each position and then hold it there for a period of time before releasing. With dynamic stretching, each stretch should last 20-30 seconds.