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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Dave Dubuque: Chairlift stretching, a brief tutorial

By Dave Dubuque For The Spokesman-Review

Skiing can be physically demanding sometimes: Activities like walking from the car to the chairlift, hiking through snow to retrieve a lost ski, and holding a snowplow (pizza) position for extended periods can all take their toll.

With all of this exertion, odds are your body is going to be a rat’s nest of knotted muscle by midday.

If you find yourself on a chairlift by yourself – or with a niece or nephew who doesn’t take up much space – sweet relief can be yours in a few simple steps.

A disclaimer: The following exercises should not be undertaken by anyone who’s actively looking for a date. It may also be a good idea to carefully read the terms and conditions listed on the back of your lift ticket, as these maneuvers are somewhat less than risk-free. But if you have the luxury of not having to care how ridiculous you look – and you’re somewhat careful – you, too, can get loose. It’s good to ski loose.

Ready? OK.

First, reach up to the pole coming down from the haul rope. Be sure that you aren’t near the lift tower, as contact with the large pulleys, called sheaves (pronounced “shivs” – yep) is not an element of any approved health regimen. Hang off of the bar a little bit and pull. Notice a rush of well-being flowing from the sides of your rib cage, known as “lats.” You’ve been using them a lot poling around from place to wintry place on the mountain, poor thing. Now do the other side, if you can reach.

The next move requires a span of chairlift that’s at least 10 feet off the ground for an extended distance, far enough away from the off-ramp that you can escape from any entanglement of mitten straps in your skis or the chairlift.

Give yourself extra time, because the detangling process will take place behind your back, where you can’t see it. And you’ll be alone. Or with nieces and nephews who think you deserve whatever pain and humiliation may result from your ridiculous, embarrassing habits.

Now, place one arm behind the back of the chair, then swing a ski gently back and forth. Not hard enough to rock the chair – we may be tacky, but we’re civilized.

As the tail of your ski reaches its apex, grab it. Now stretch that quad. Groaning? Perfectly natural. Quads aren’t tired and tight, you say? You’re such a jerk.

If your quads aren’t in need of care, it’s probably because you ski “in the front seat.” Maybe because you were a racer and were taught good form. I’ll bet your calves and hamstrings are probably just killing you, though. I take no satisfaction in that, honest, so let’s get ’em limbered up. Take your poles out from under your leg, where they usually ride, and hold them near the middle, baskets forward. Gently swing one of your skis forward and catch it between the baskets. (Don’t try to catch the ski with your grips, as they can pull off of the pole more easily than you might think.) Now, pull. You’re welcome.

The last stretch we’ll be talking about comes courtesy of my college roommate, who is perfectly happy being single. “I like it just fine,” he says. Find a chairlift with a safety bar and lower it. Use the bar and the chair’s backrest, pushing with one arm and pulling with the other to twist/stretch your torso. Take a moment to enjoy the view from aloft, and pay no heed to the reaction of the people on the chair behind you. They know nothing of good living.

I imagine that a wide variety of stretches is possible while heading to the top of the mountain, and that I’ve barely scratched the surface. I encourage you to use your imagination – get out there and really explore the chairlift space.

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