This is the third in a series of four core moves developed by master of movement Paul Chek. Do the Cigarette Butt test to see if you need to work on your hip rotators. For previously published moves, log onto www.skiingmag.com.
Rotary movements of the legs and feet are key to quick turning, agility, and maneuverability on the hill. This move tests range of motion and strength in the hip rotators. Tight or weak internal rotators can make steering the inside ski difficult; tight or weak external rotators similarly confound the steering of the outside ski.
THE TEST: To check internal rotators, stand against a wall with feet hip-width apart. Imagine putting out a cigarette by rotating the leg and foot outward, pivoting on the heel. Move from the hip sockets; do not rotate the pelvis. You should be able to rotate to about 45 degrees. To check the external rotators, from the starting position (feet hip-width apart, toes forward), rotate the foot and leg inward. Here, 40 degrees of rotation is normal.
THE SOLUTION: If your internal rotator muscles are weak, use the test itself to strengthen them. Turn your foot and leg outward (in the direction of restriction). At the end of the range, plant your foot solidly on the ground and gently attempt to continue to rotate the leg outward (keeping the knee unlocked). It's a subtle move, but you should feel the muscles in your hip kicking into gear. Hold for five seconds, relax and move farther into the rotation. Relax, and repeat. To strengthen the external rotators, start by rotating inward and follow the same directions as above. You can do these exercises one to three times daily.