Downhill Skier Exercise
Proper hip hinging technique is critical for the prevention of injuries and being able to perform many exercises properly such as the deadlift, kettlebell swing, and single leg deadlift. The squat is another primary movement pattern that must be learned to prevent injury and optimize movement.
There is a great exercise that teaches the relationship between the hip hinge and squat and is a fantastic dynamic warm-up and corrective exercise that can be done every day. It is called the downhill skier.
Start by placing the hands palm down on the top of the thighs. Keep the back straight slide the hands down until the palms are resting on the knees with the hips back like you are a second basemen. You should begin to feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Continue to hinge from the hip forward and slide down until your elbow are resting on the inside of the knees with back straight and hips back like you are a downhill skier. This will require your knees to track forward over and maybe even slightly beyond your toes (this will generate a stretch in the calf muscles and specifically the single joint soleus muscle). Keep your heels down the whole time – do not let them lift up off the floor!
Keeping the back totally straight extend the knees as far as possible – you should feel a strong stretch in the hamstrings. Your hips will rise but keep your elbows on the knees and do not move the upper body! Then drop the hips, flex the knees and let them move forward over toes as you drop back down to the downhill skier posture.
Start slow but as you get the hang of it you can move faster – as long as you maintain proper form. Do 30 – 50 reps every day. You will start to notice that your squat and your hip hinge movements all get easier along with improved mobility in the ankle knee and hip! Here is a link to a great video demonstrating proper form for this exercise: https://youtu.be/nXKWtlr3rBQ