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Established balance, flexibility key to winter sports safety, says Brock Monger of Apex Physical Therapy in Madras.

When preparing your body for the rigors and rewards of outdoor winter sports, don’t overlook flexibility and balance training, says Brock Monger, lead physical therapist and co-founder of Apex Physical Therapy in Madras. Monger points out that even with a good level of strength and cardio fitness, if one’s balance and/or flexibility are below par, performance will be limited and the body will be more susceptible to injury.

“Regardless if you’re downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or cross country skiing, you don’t try to get your balance or flexibility the day of your activity,” he said. “The goal is to have the balance and flexibility there when you need it, and that comes from training and exercise prior to winter sports season.

“Good balance, according to Karin Monger, DPT, co-owner of Apex Physical Therapy, is most essential during winter sports activities.”Winter sports present the ultimate challenge to balance,” she said.

“You’re moving your body, while wearing equipment, on snowy or icy surfaces … you have so many factors working against you.”And while good balance allows you to stay upright, it can also enable your body to adapt to constantly changing and unexpected terrain when coupled with good flexibility.”With the large muscle groups used in winter sports, good flexibility allows your body to move and adapt within the environment,” Brock Monger said.

“When you don’t have good flexibility, you’re more susceptible to injury and less able to adapt to the terrain and what it’s asking your body to do.”On the injury front, the lack of flexibility in one area of the body can make another area of your body more susceptible to injury, especially when your activity of choice is a high-impact winter sport like skiing, snowshoeing or snowboarding. For instance, tight hamstrings can correlate to back pain and impact how the trunk of your body moves, Monger says.

To help improve both balance and flexibility, Brock and Karin Monger offer some simple recommendations:

Take an Exercise Class: Yoga, Pilates and step classes, for instance, strive to strengthen your core muscle groups, which are essential in achieving good balance. Such classes complement indoor cardio and resistance training, which often does little to help with balance.

Stretch Every Day: Take 10 to 15 minutes each day to stretch, either in the morning or just before bed. A stretch just before partaking in a winter sport will do little unless you’ve worked to establish a flexible body over the long term.

Perform Single-Leg Balance Exercises: Get your body accustomed to relying on one side at a time.  Practice standing on one leg while tilting your body forward, back and sideways. Try this in your winter boots. “This gets you familiar with your equipment again and how your body needs to adapt both in balance and flexibility within the confines of your gear,” said Brock Monger.

Other single leg balance ideas include: ball bounces, standing on a foam pad, and practicing with eyes closed in a safe setting.

About Apex Physical Therapy LLC Apex Physical Therapy, founded by the husband-and-wife team of Brock and Karin Monger – both physical therapists and certified strength and conditioning specialists – opened its doors in 2007. Its mission is to care for Madras/Jefferson County families through preventative education and community focused rehabilitation services.

The team at Apex Physical Therapy treats orthopedic, sports, auto and work-related injuries; provides post-surgical rehabilitation care; and offers education and rehabilitative programs related to spine disorders, athletic performance and general wellness.

For more information about Apex Physical Therapy, visit: 

Contact: Brock Monger, DPT, ATCApex Physical Therapy LLCContact: 541-475-1218;


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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