Ski Biomechanics & Physiology Awareness <br />OVERVIEW Ski technique is a very popular subject in the world of skiing.  Fo...
Ski biomechanics
Ski biomechanics
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Ski biomechanics


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Ski biomechanics

  1. 1. Ski Biomechanics & Physiology Awareness <br />OVERVIEW Ski technique is a very popular subject in the world of skiing.  For many years technique has been put across to skiers getting usually moderate to great results.  With all tuition it's limited to what people's bodies can physically do.  Nearly all skiers have a weaker turn.  This is due to physical and mental limitations on one side of the body.  Because of this one side of the body usually absorbs the learning better and as a result a weaker turning direction is left.<br />This doesn't show itself generally if you're inside your comfort zone, but as soon as you ski faster, steeper and away from the piste the weaker turn becomes more apparent and will consistently let your technique down.  When flat light sets in, slopes become icy and you're feeling fatigued you'll also feel your weaker turn more.  When skiing on very steep or exposed faces, your weaker turn can actually put you in vulnerable situation as on these slopes you are truly only as good as your weaker turn!<br />Most skiers are always trying to improve their performance, speed, style and general grasp of the sport from your beginner right through to a competitor.  Quite a lot of the time improvement is slowed down by the weaker or restricted direction.  The job of a ski instructor would be a whole lot easier if he had a complete understanding of ski biomechanics and physiology.  The plateau's that are often talked about in skiing (normally intermediate plateau) usually boil down to handful of issues that are more times than not fixed by a combination of ski coaching, ski biomechanics and ski physiology exercises.<br />One other issue that ski biomechanics awareness can benefit is ski safety and injury prevention.  If you make turns that are symmetrical and generally equal, you'll become a more consistent skier.  This makes you a safer skier in all environments from the piste to big mountain.  Also, if you're skiing with better symmetry and actually know which muscles to drive the mechanical movements with, you'll reduce the risk of injury and damage to your skeleton and joints.<br />Overall, the true fact of the matter is that ski instruction is not as effective without the added factors of ski biomechanics and ski physiology.  It is our hope that more and more ski instructors across the globe will gain further education in these areas and better themselves so as to give out a much better product to the clients or athletes they work with.<br />  <br />TYPICAL ISSUES IMPROVED WITH BIOMECHANICAL + PHYSIOLOGICAL AWARENESS<br />1.  CORRECT SKI LEG FLEX PATTERN (Unlocking the Ankles)Most skiers flex their knees more than their ankles.  This unfortunately causes body weight to rest consistently over the middle and back of the skis.  Also fatigues the thighs and puts strain on the knee joint.  Reasons for this are:a. Ski Boots perhaps too stiff b. Calf muscles perhaps too tightc. Over use of knee flex and knee flex as a habit (due to both of the above) <br />2.  SKIER SYMMETRY Most skiers ride from turn to turn with an a-frame shape in the legs. This is when the feet are wider apart than the knees.  This can happen by either the knees dropping in or the feet splitting out or both.  This makes the shape in the legs non symmetrical and the skis usually at different angles between the turns.  This can cause inconsistency between turns due to the skis being tilted at different angles.  This a-frame angle in the legs will put stress on the knee joints and tension in the muscles throughout the body.  An a-frame is one of the biggest factor behind skiers having problems in powder and variable terrains.  A-Frame's are usually more predominant on one direction.  The reasons A-frame's are so common are:a. Ski Boot set up (foot beds and canting)b. No awareness of lateral control musclesc. Ski technique issues such as pressure, edge and steering control<br />3.  INCREASE LEG STEERING RANGE - DECREASING UPPER BODY ROTATION Most skiers get told one time or another by a coach that there is too much upper body or hip rotation in their skiing.  This usually gives the skier a weaker edge support in the turn and poor body positioning over the skis.  The Result – A vulnerable and weaker set up for overall dynamic balance.  Upper body or hip rotation is usually more apparent in one direction.  Steering needs to come mainly from the legs with the ball of the thigh bone rotating inside the socket joint of the hips.  This allows the hips to remain generally facing in the direction of the fall line.<br />In most cases skiers can step their feet around approximately 50 or 60 degrees across either side from the fall line.  This means that when they steer from turn to turn and the steering of the skis is greater than say 50 or 60 degrees, the upper body will start to rotate as the skis try to achieve 75 degrees and 80 degrees of angle across the fall line (this is typically what’s needed of steeper slopes). The reasons for a poor leg steering range are:a.  General tightness in the hips b.  Lack of range in exterior and interior leg rotationc.  Many years skiing without finishing off of the turn shape <br />4.  POWDER STEERING THE SKIS (foot + thigh steering, not just foot)Most skiers have a good knowledge of steering the feet which usually gives an adequate result of steering the skis in each direction. However, not all skiers get educated on steering the thighs.  If thigh steering is added to foot steering, the overall process of the steering action is much stronger.  If muscles are more responsible for the steering action in the legs, it takes the torque out of the knee joint during the steering process. <br />Also, if skiers are wishing to ski and higher speeds, ride on steeper slopes and freeride on big mountain terrain it's essential that the power steering of the upper legs is switched on. The main reasons skiers don't use upper leg steering are: a. Foot steering usually being the only description of steering mentioned in a skiers first few weeks b. Lack of power and endurance in the upper leg steering muscles <br />5.  LATERAL ANGULATION (differences between leaning / falling left and right)If you watch video footage of most skiers in slow motion over 25 frames per second, you will nearly always see a difference between the angles skiers fall into with each turn direction.  Lean or Falling from the hips into each turn direction can be a technically demanding exercise.  Most skiers either lack confidence or lack range of movement falling towards the left or the right. <br />Usually we all favour either our left or right side of the body in many things in life.  Because of this when learning to lean the legs or fall with the hips in each direction, we will naturally fall to one direction and have a restriction to the other.  On the direction with the mental restriction you will normally see skiers leaning their head and shoulders across and not really moving the hip too much.  There is also a physical issue that can affect the falling in each direction which is being tighter in the muscle groups down one side of the body in the legs, hips and lower back.  Tightness in one side can restrict the range and speed someone can fall and lean their legs.<br />Main issuesa. Left and Right sides of the brain can make use favour falling / leaning the legs in one direction more than the other and actually make us lack confidence in one direction b. Tight muscles on one side of the body can make us lack range of movement and speed of movement for falling / leaning <br />6.   MIDDLE BODY CORE STRENGTH (activating core on the move)So many skiers spend most, if not all, of their time skiing from turn to turn with very little or no middle body strength.  If you ski with not much middle body and core strength you run the risk of allowing your hips (centre of your mass) to drop back during your turns.  This puts you out of balance and leaves your body weight on the tails of your skis.  Also when you’re skiing moguls and variable terrain you’ll often find that you’re constantly skiing into lumps of snow that cause there to be a sudden impact on the body.  If your middle body is weak with no core activation, you’ll find your upper body collapsing forwards as your body breaks at the waist. <br />To ski with middle body strength you need to learn how to activate you core and develop overall middle body strength and endurance.  This can be done by focusing on strength building exercises for your lower back and stomach muscles and your transverse abdominal (core) group of muscles.  Once you can become aware of how these muscles work you can then start to try skiing with them activated full time during your turns.  This is not as easy as it sounds and work off of snow is required to achieve full time core activation.<br />Main issues a. Most skiers ski without middle body strength and full time core activation making themselves vulnerable when performance levels are pushed or the conditions get more difficult b. Skiers can suffer from lower back compression injuries when skiing without a strong middle body <br />Solution is a. Dry land training to develop core strength and endurance.  This can be done by following some simple exercises given to you by professional fitness instructors b. Using a pre ski Core activation exercise to wake up the middle body and rehearse the position to hold it in when skiing.  This following explains:<br />1 Ski Biomechanics & Physiology Awareness <br />