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Functional assessments for skiers

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

Ever considered that if you improve how you move on land, that it might translate to improving how you move on snow? Most people who chose to go to the gym to train for skiing have considered this to an extent: They realize that getting strong will help them on their skis. I fully agree! 

 

But what about your movement quality? What if your left leg is stronger than your right? What if your left obliques and QL are weak? What if your hip flexors are really tight? Or if you can't rotate your left leg as much as your right? 

 

Will that have an impact on your skiing?

Will doing squats and deadlifts in the gym help fix that? 

What do you think?

 

Most people are not symmetrical skiers. We work to become symmetrical, but often we aren't. The better the skier, the closer to that goal. 

 

I work as a personal trainer/strength and conditioning specialist (and I'm a part time ski instructor). As part of that job, I use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to assess all of my clients.  It is a system that includes 7 "functional" or fundamental movements that I have my clients perform, and I grade how well they do each one. What I see during this assessment helps me to understand where each person has their own movement limitations - and virtually everyone has some. This helps me to put together the best possible training program for them. 

 

How do most people fare on the FMS? The following is from about 150 clients, across a wide age bracket, some athletes/some not; both men and women:

- average score:12.9 out of 21 

- 83% had at least one asymmetry (difference from left to right)

- 31% fail an overhead deep squat test using only their bodyweight

 

According to FMS research, a score of less than 14 out of 21 suggests a significantly higher risk of injury, as do asymmetries and a failed squat. (you can read the rest of my results overview here: http://elsbethvaino.com/2011/09/the-fms-results-i-have-seen-and-what-they-mean/).

 

The reason I bring this up is to suggest that most people have movement problems of some sort on flat ground. Some of us who have movement problems on flat ground enjoy skiing. If we don't move well in a slow and controlled environment...how well can we really expect to move in a fast, uncontrolled environment?

 

What if we can get a quick assessment and do a couple of home exercises as corrections to help with the problems we have on flat ground? Maybe that would translate to moving better on snow?  

 

This is the thinking behind my suggestion: Add functional assessments with corrections to our ski season preparation. 

 

For this, I have come up with a ski-specific functional movement assessment that I call mFAST™, the mini Functional Assessment for Skiers Tool™.

 

Interested enough to give it a try? (no, I'm not selling...trust me...all free...)

 

If so, take a look at the mFAST assessment video. Try the 4 movements in it. Follow the instructions and ideally, take a video of yourself, or get someone to watch:

 

 

There are 4 tests. Here is how I want you to score it:

 

Test 1: Single leg squat

 

Pass

  • Is able to do this without sitting
  • Knee stays in line with the thigh and shin
  • Hip stays in line with the body

 

Test 2: Rotational Stability

 

Pass

  • Hips do not shift to the side
  • Hips do not drop
  • Minimal to no hip lift
  • Shoulders do not shift to the side

 

Test 3: Upright split squat

 

Pass

  • Ski pole stays in contact with 3 points
  • Feet still facing forward
  • Maintain balance

 

Test 4:

 

Pass

  • approximately 60 degrees in each direction for each rotation
  • Approximately equal on left and right

 

 

What to do with the results:

 

  • If there is one problem test, perform corrective exercises for that test
  • If there is a problem in more than one test, perform corrective exercises for the most important test
  • The order of importance is dictated by the test order

 

What are these corrective exercises I speak of?

I've attached a pdf with 2 recommended corrective exercises for each test.

 

 

mFAST.pdf 865k .pdf file

 

 

 

Bud Heishman and I have been sending a few emails back and forth, and it was his great suggestion that I post this so that those of you who are interested can give it a try, and get some discussion about the concept, and the need or use for, functional assessments and corrections.  

 

I think that in an ideal world, every skier would get someone who is FMS certified to run them through the full test and to show you how to do the proposed corrective exercises - maybe even put together a full program.

 

I think the mFAST is a close second, and is particularly relevant for skiers. It is a tool that I think would be incredible for boot fitters and ski instructors to use as a way to help their clients. Imagine as a ski instructor, if you could get someone to do a few exercises at home before they come back and see you next week and you can then see if that better range of hip rotation helps them to not slide out when turning to the left? I am less familiar with what bootfitters do (although I've experienced it a few times), but I suspect the ability to identify functional movement limitations would be helpful. I think the single leg squat is particularly interesting for you. No doubt you often seen people in valgus (knee collapses in). But the single-leg squat will show you dynamic valgus vs static. If someone has good alignment standing but loses it as they move - I would suggest that that is likely a functional issue vs a structural one, and thus one that should be attempted to correct functionally.  

 

Those are my thoughts. I'd love to hear yours. 

 

Elsbeth

post #2 of 25

Great stuff Evaino!  You are the "P" in my TAPP!

 

post #3 of 25

Chris Fellows has a book that includes this type of "testing" (as well as LOTS of other stuff)

 

http://www.amazon.com/Total-Skiing-Chris-Fellows/dp/0736083650

 

 

post #4 of 25

Great thread and an excellent concept. For the large majority of people however I'd take yet another step further back. When I ask a person to get into an athletic, ready posture, be he/she a skier, golfer or other sportsman, it is astonishing how few have any idea what that entails. This is true even of some elite athletes, especially juniors, and its pretty much universal among the man in the street. Specifically, most people get into a kind of pose, with their bums sticking out and chins jutting up - a caricature of what they think an athletic posture should look like, but with none of the functional tension that stabilizes the core (pelvis and spine). Typically they clench their abs, but their femurs are collapsed into internal rotation, the shoulder girdle (scapulae and clavicles) ride high and forward which in turn closes down the shoulder joint and internally rotates the upper arms, and the neck is hyperextended. Do a deadlift with any sort of weight from this faux "athletic posture" (and many do) and my neurosurgeon colleagues will sooner or later have another laminectomy candidate. 

 

Here, briefly, are the keys.

 

(i) The femurs are kept in a neutral to slightly externally rotated position in the hip socket. This requires contraction in the deep gluteal muscles (gemellus, obturator, piriformis group) which few people know they have. Basically their butts have gone to sleep over the years. Feel this by keeping your feet stable on the floor and using your butt to open out the thighs.

 

(ii) The abdominal sheath is tensioned from the top of the pubis to its upper insertion at the bottom of the sternum. Focus on that point and lift your chest up against that tension.

 

(iii) Drop your shoulder blades down and inward as if you wanted to move them into your back pockets. This is really hard for many people - its as if their shoulder blades are frozen against their rib cage. Feel this by grabbing a rod, holding it above your head and trying to bow it upwards using your back muscles. Note how your upper arms rotate outwards and your shoulder joint opens up.

 

(iv) Keep your neck in a neutral, not extended, position. May feel like you have a slight double chin. A useful tip is to touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth keeping a relaxed jaw.

 

That's an athletic posture.

 

Practicing it while walking is the easiest way to make it feel natural. It takes a while. Or just say the hell with it and go skiing! But you'll ski better if you do so from a real athletic posture.

post #5 of 25

Evaino,

 

Is there a translation issue in your first post when you say "overhead deep squat test using only their bodyweight..." ?  I think you mean diagnostic or overview deep squat test. 

 

*                        *                                    *

 

This is a thought-provoking thread.  As regards the last post's discussion of athletic ready posture, I would say that if you find you have a definition that not even many elite, athletic juniors understand, there maybe a problem with your definition.  If your definition includes terms like contracted deep glutes and tensing the abdominal sheath from top of the pubis to the insertion at the bottom of the sternum, that's even more of a sign that you're not talking a natural athletic position or state of readiness. 

 

Even the whole talk of stabilizing the core is overblown -- you obviously don't want to threaten your spine, etc., and want stability in that way, but if you stabilize your core with a tense abdomen, contracted glutes, shoulder blades and chin drawn back, etc., you can't move until you undo those things.  That's not athletic.  Be able to move from stable to dynamic balance and back is athletic.

 

 

post #6 of 25

Not my definition. It's a concept well understood by the top trainers that hasn't filtered down to the masses. It's not that people don't understand it, they've never been taught it, it's not intuitive and it takes practice. One can move far more powerfully and freely from this position - it represents both stable and dynamic balance. Anyway, take it or leave it - it's your core!

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardDaysNight View Post

Not my definition. It's a concept well understood by the top trainers that hasn't filtered down to the masses. It's not that people don't understand it, they've never been taught it, it's not intuitive and it takes practice. One can move far more powerfully and freely from this position - it represents both stable and dynamic balance. Anyway, take it or leave it - it's your core!



Well, skiers, soccer goalies, point guards, wide receivers, etc. all don't move from that position, they tend to be more in the first version of a ready stance you'd mentioned.  It's not a concept embraced by "top" trainers, or even some subset like top yoga instructors.  Even powerlifters, who definitely do not want dynamic balance, debate how much bracing is either needed or good for a sport where stability paramount. 

 

For purposes of ski instruction, the question becomes what perceived benefits are going to flow from encouraging non-intuitive posture different from what top skiers use that constrains movement.

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

Evaino,

 

Is there a translation issue in your first post when you say "overhead deep squat test using only their bodyweight..." ?  I think you mean diagnostic or overview deep squat test. 

 

*                        *                                    *


Maybe, although English is my first language. But I am an engineer by background so call it bad geek to English translation. I mean an overhead deep squat without load (holding a dowel).

 

 

 

post #9 of 25

Actually the best ones do. It's not really a question of "bracing", it's the correct alignment of pelvis and spine brought about by the functional tension I described. Once it's habitual it is not a "tense' position; the contrary in fact. And it is protective of vulnerable backs and necks, at least to the degree it's possible to protect them. I have an extensive formal background in this area (MD, neurologist; PhD, neuromuscular physiology and biomechanics). I have worked and continue to work with the members of a major national ski team (among other groups). Presumably there are some perceived benefits flowing. There is extensive research in support of the concepts I described.

 

In any event, I thought the OP's post was a good one. If my addition to it resonates with anyone, especially those who get back pain from skiing, great. If not, well I have wasted a few minutes. 

 

Have a great and injury-free season all.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

I view core stability as the foundation of power transfer and dynamic movement. If you are not able to stiffen the core, then you will suffer in sports because you will not be able to effectively transfer energy between limbs. For performance, you absolutely must be able to move, and thus can't be stiff all the time, but having the ability to stiffen is still your foundation. And then during movements, you will still selectively stiffen certain areas. Now there are also periods of relaxation even during the movements, and in fact the ability to contract and relax and then contract again in a coordinated and focused manner is considered by some to be what differentiates the elite from the rest. 

 

I do agree that it core is huge, and that stance is important. Although as Dr. Charlie Weingroff reminds us in his great DVD set, Training=Rehab, Rehab=Training, it's really important to understand what our definition of the core is. He puts up a picture of a giraffe and asks, does core include the neck? Food for thought.

 

I have a different approach to teaching athletic stance, but my version includes a lot of  the same points. In particular, athletes who can feel the connection between their feet and their glutes will perfom better, and people who can learn to drop the shoulder blades will at very least have healthier shoulders and necks, and arguably will also perform better.   

 

The more I learn, and the more people I train, the more I am convinced that core strength - particularly rotary core - is the key to performance. Not sure if I'm getting too far off topic here!

 

post #11 of 25
Quote:

Originally Posted by evaino View Post... For performance, you absolutely must be able to move, and thus can't be stiff all the time...

 

...Dr. Charlie Weingroff ... puts up a picture of a giraffe and asks, does core include the neck? ...

 

I have a different approach to teaching athletic stance,...



The basic point is that starting with, say, contracted glutes and abs isn't the way to be athletic.  The commonly understood  "athletic ready position" is commonly understood, and used in sports ranging from golf to skiing, in addition to baseball, football, soccer, etc. for a reason. 

 

As regards expanding core to include things like neck and calves (which I have also seen) it's a way of expanding the concept to the point where it's useless.  I fully expect to see someone soon call the big toe "core," and while big toes are very important to a lot of things, core they ain't.

 

As regards overhead squats, thanks for the clarification.  What was the percent of failure due to upper body flexibility issues as opposed to lower body?  Many good, very fit skiers would fail at this due to the range of movement involved.  Even many good athletes in sports like rock climbing, where shoulders are much more important, would also fail for the same reason.  That may be the point, in terms of measuring fitness beyond the demands of the sport, but some sort of single-leg test might be a substitute for some people.

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardDaysNight View Post
 If not, well I have wasted a few minutes. 


No time wasted. Great stuff. I'm still working through it.

post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

 

The basic point is that starting with, say, contracted glutes and abs isn't the way to be athletic.  The commonly understood  "athletic ready position" is commonly understood, and used in sports ranging from golf to skiing, in addition to baseball, football, soccer, etc. for a reason. 

 

Ya, I agree with that part. I certainly coach it differently, but with the same end goal.Just checking because I wasn't sure if you were downplaying the importance of core strength/stability.

 

 

Quote:

 

As regards expanding core to include things like neck and calves (which I have also seen) it's a way of expanding the concept to the point where it's useless.  I fully expect to see someone soon call the big toe "core," and while big toes are very important to a lot of things, core they ain't.

 

 

 

I don't fully agree with you on this one. It does basically mean we're including everything. Personally I'm okay with that, because I think most people need to understand stability needs at more than just the abs. Neck and shoulder stability, for instance are huge. Although less so for skiing. That said, personally I prefer the "pillar" definition of the core where it includes basically everything from about mid thigh to basically the middle of the rib cage. What concerns me is the people who think core = "six pack muscles". I'm not saying that's what you think (pretty sure it's not). 

 

Quote:

As regards overhead squats, thanks for the clarification.  What was the percent of failure due to upper body flexibility issues as opposed to lower body?  Many good, very fit skiers would fail at this due to the range of movement involved.  Even many good athletes in sports like rock climbing, where shoulders are much more important, would also fail for the same reason.  That may be the point, in terms of measuring fitness beyond the demands of the sport, but some sort of single-leg test might be a substitute for some people.

 

Great question! I don't have that info though. That is where we get into the art vs science of assessment. A failed overhead deep squat could be from limitations in:

- ankle mobility

- hip mobility

- core strength

- thoracic spine mobility

- shoulder mobility

 

I view the overhead squat as giving us a yes/sort of/no answer to the "does this person move well" question. If they are in the "no" category then I know two things: they need some work somewhere, and getting them to do loaded squats is a really bad idea (at this point). But truthfully I don't know much more than that without looking at other tests. That's why I don't include the deep squat in my ski assessment.  

 

In the FMS, I would look at a failed deep squat, and then I'd look at the other tests to tell me the rest. Like:

- failed deep squat + poor lunge: likely an ankle or thoracic spine mobility issue. I can often tell which based on how they look on the lunge.

- failed deep squat + poor trunk stability pushup: likely core strength

- failed deep squat + poor straight leg raise or poor hurdle step: likely hip mobility

- failed deep squat + poor shoulder mobility: likely shoulder mobility

 

But that would be for isolated cases. If it's poor deep squat and poor hurdle step and poor trunk pushup, then what's the problem? Odds are it's both hip mobility and core strength. 

 

Kind of a long-winded answer!

 

Elsbeth

post #14 of 25

not long-winded, sometimes details is good!  thx!

post #15 of 25

i'm actually going for a functional movement analysis in a wk or two ...to me it's a win win just like when you go to physio for something that is not working

in my books you're only as strong as your weakest link

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

i'm actually going for a functional movement analysis in a wk or two ...to me it's a win win just like when you go to physio for something that is not working

in my books you're only as strong as your weakest link

 

Cool. Are you going for an FMS, or something else? If it's something else, do you know what it is? Just curious. 

 

I also agree with your perspective. In fact I think people who are active should consider massage therapy and/or physio/chiro/athletic therapy visits as preventive maintenance. Dysfunction always precedes (overuse) injury. If you can address the dysfunction before it becomes an injury, that's a big win. 

 

 

post #17 of 25

I've been using the FMS protocol to help evaluate structural discrepancies for awhile among skiers, and I find it a useful tool. The movements all look simple, but are not necessarily that easy to perform with 100 percent accuracy. I agree with your points and applaud your contribution.  I would share with readers of this post, however, that first, it does take some practice with a number of subjects to train the eye to properly identify anomalies, for instance, according to the criteria established by FMS, a few points could be made about the individual in the video as displaying some eccentricities. And second, once a movement pattern is identified as needing improvement, it is sometimes not quite so obvious what the best corrective exercises might be, despite the guidelines in the pdf file. For instance, someone presenting a degree of lumbar lordosis during movement may not realize that working on stretching and elongating the psoas muscles might be indicated. Individuals wanting more information can go to www.functionalmovement.com. There is a full-on certification program that they offer for health and fitness professionals (and it's not particularly cheap). For more immediate information, there are several YouTube videos that show some of the assessment movements in action, and the book Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook gives a good overview of how FMS works into athletic development, available on Amazon.

P.S., Elsbeth, are you FMS certified?


Edited by georgert - 9/24/11 at 10:15pm
post #18 of 25

Great stuff, Thanks Eviano!!!!!!!!!

 

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by georgert View Post

P.S., Elsbeth, are you FMS certified?


http://www.functionalmovement.com/experts/ElsbethVaino
 

 

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by georgert View Post

I've been using the FMS protocol to help evaluate structural discrepancies for awhile among skiers, and I find it a useful tool. The movements all look simple, but are not necessarily that easy to perform with 100 percent accuracy. I agree with your points and applaud your contribution.  I would share with readers of this post, however, that first, it does take some practice with a number of subjects to train the eye to properly identify anomalies, for instance, according to the criteria established by FMS, a few points could be made about the individual in the video as displaying some eccentricities. And second, once a movement pattern is identified as needing improvement, it is sometimes not quite so obvious what the best corrective exercises might be, despite the guidelines in the pdf file. For instance, someone presenting a degree of lumbar lordosis during movement may not realize that working on stretching and elongating the psoas muscles might be indicated. Individuals wanting more information can go to www.functionalmovement.com. There is a full-on certification program that they offer for health and fitness professionals (and it's not particularly cheap). For more immediate information, there are several YouTube videos that show some of the assessment movements in action, and the book Athletic Body in Balance by Gray Cook gives a good overview of how FMS works into athletic development, available on Amazon.

P.S., Elsbeth, are you FMS certified?

 

Some great points. As RayCantu pulled up my profile on the FMS page - yes, I am certified. You're absolutely right that there are nuances involved both in what you're looking for in the assessment and in which exercises you select for a certain individual. But I also think that one of the cool things about the FMS is that even someone who doesn't get those nuances can do well with it.

 

My intention with the assessment video and corrective exercises I posted above follows just that. It is set up so that anyone can use it, but someone who has a stronger understand of how the body moves would be able to make better and more specific recommendations for corrective exercises. I view the basic ones posted as the ones that will have the biggest bang for their buck for most people. 

 

I also agree that Athletic Body in Balance is a great resource, and it includes a 5 test assessment that is basically a mini-FMS that anyone can do on themselves at home.  As you note - it also has some great training ideas. There is also an FMS DVD set that you should be able to get from the functionalmovement website, but if not, you can get it from performbetter.com. Lastly, Gray Cook's new book, Movement, covers the FMS in detail and then some. 
 

Did you do the FMS certification? If not, how have you learned the details for the test? I'm just curious how you came across it, and how you're using it. 

 

Elsbeth

 

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by evaino View Post

 

 

Some great points. As RayCantu pulled up my profile on the FMS page - yes, I am certified. You're absolutely right that there are nuances involved both in what you're looking for in the assessment and in which exercises you select for a certain individual. But I also think that one of the cool things about the FMS is that even someone who doesn't get those nuances can do well with it.

 

My intention with the assessment video and corrective exercises I posted above follows just that. It is set up so that anyone can use it, but someone who has a stronger understand of how the body moves would be able to make better and more specific recommendations for corrective exercises. I view the basic ones posted as the ones that will have the biggest bang for their buck for most people. 

 

I also agree that Athletic Body in Balance is a great resource, and it includes a 5 test assessment that is basically a mini-FMS that anyone can do on themselves at home.  As you note - it also has some great training ideas. There is also an FMS DVD set that you should be able to get from the functionalmovement website, but if not, you can get it from performbetter.com. Lastly, Gray Cook's new book, Movement, covers the FMS in detail and then some. 
 

Did you do the FMS certification? If not, how have you learned the details for the test? I'm just curious how you came across it, and how you're using it. 

 

Elsbeth

 


Well, like you I am a CSCS. I am also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor in the summer and coach ski racing in the winter. (I spent a couple of weeks at Hood this summer with Jazz and her group by the way.) I actually stumbled across FMS just by surfing around the web and bookstores looking for information that would give me a better understanding of biomechanics and functional training. I picked up a copy of Cook's book, read it, did a self assessment with a video camera (not pretty), and then started trying it out on some of the athletes with whom I work. I am not certified in FMS, I'm currently working on a group fitness instructor cert from ACE. Incidentally, although I didn't get much in the way of details, I was recently at the NSCA facility in Colorado Springs and was speaking to one of the trainers there. He told me that the NSCA had not signed off on FMS yet, i.e., it's not something they endorse, although I saw an article on movement screens in a back issue of the the Strength and Conditioning Journal. Cheers.

 

post #22 of 25
Elsbeth, nice job with the mini and the start of correctives. Its a sized chunk easy enough for someone to get a start with & want for more when they feel some results. Docbrad brought up Chris Fellows book total skiing. Check it out when you can as it has some nice on snow assessments to play around with. Along with great skiing info.

Harddaysnite thanks for posting the specific descriptions of how to achieve an athletic posture. I would emphasize the glute/hip complex activation is to bring the pelvis forward to a proper alignment with the spine. The slight outward femur rotation is a good key that the knees are not being locked in error or compensation for weak glutes. I needed the ribcage & scapula reminders. And of course you're dead on with the entire thing and the benefits are lifelong when it is habit.
Athletic posture has been around a half century or more under the guise of proper posture. Taught to many during our Jr.High phys ed classes. Most commomly described as "squeeze the butt, suck in the gut, chest up,shoulders back, head up, eyes forward." Some took it serious, but at that.agemostarewIn the slumps of trying on a variety of postures expressing rebellion, refusal, boredom. Hence your experience with juniors. Plus, juniors often have an inability to access memory of things their supposed to do:rolleyes.

CTKook, the various sport specific ready positions are for a moment in time til the gun gos off and the action starts. Players walk up to a line of scrimmage,most looking like strong pillars, the set position is just a moment in time. Baseball players at elite levels stand in the field in an athletic posture until the pitcher starts his windup. In unison 7 players ready in to a spring position for just the moment it takes the ball to cross the plate or go in play.
The commonly understood ready position is commonly misunderstood and often overused as an "always" ready position much to the detriment of a junior players structural development. Lots of excesses and imbalances develop setting them up for injury or time consuming hard work to correct for future success..
Edited by 911over - 9/26/11 at 11:31pm
post #23 of 25

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HardDaysNight View Post

Great thread and an excellent concept. For the large majority of people however I'd take yet another step further back. When I ask a person to get into an athletic, ready posture, be he/she a skier, golfer or other sportsman, it is astonishing how few have any idea what that entails. This is true even of some elite athletes, especially juniors, and its pretty much universal among the man in the street. Specifically, most people get into a kind of pose, with their bums sticking out and chins jutting up - a caricature of what they think an athletic posture should look like, but with none of the functional tension that stabilizes the core (pelvis and spine). Typically they clench their abs, but their femurs are collapsed into internal rotation, the shoulder girdle (scapulae and clavicles) ride high and forward which in turn closes down the shoulder joint and internally rotates the upper arms, and the neck is hyperextended. Do a deadlift with any sort of weight from this faux "athletic posture" (and many do) and my neurosurgeon colleagues will sooner or later have another laminectomy candidate. 

 

Here, briefly, are the keys.

 

(i) The femurs are kept in a neutral to slightly externally rotated position in the hip socket. This requires contraction in the deep gluteal muscles (gemellus, obturator, piriformis group) which few people know they have. Basically their butts have gone to sleep over the years. Feel this by keeping your feet stable on the floor and using your butt to open out the thighs.

 

(ii) The abdominal sheath is tensioned from the top of the pubis to its upper insertion at the bottom of the sternum. Focus on that point and lift your chest up against that tension.

 

(iii) Drop your shoulder blades down and inward as if you wanted to move them into your back pockets. This is really hard for many people - its as if their shoulder blades are frozen against their rib cage. Feel this by grabbing a rod, holding it above your head and trying to bow it upwards using your back muscles. Note how your upper arms rotate outwards and your shoulder joint opens up.

 

(iv) Keep your neck in a neutral, not extended, position. May feel like you have a slight double chin. A useful tip is to touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth keeping a relaxed jaw.

 

That's an athletic posture.

 

Practicing it while walking is the easiest way to make it feel natural. It takes a while. Or just say the hell with it and go skiing! But you'll ski better if you do so from a real athletic posture.

 

Here are some cueing tips from Piulates that may help you find this posture:

 

i) practice finding your "neutral spine" by gently tilting your pelvis up (shortening the distance between your pubic bone and bottom of your rib cage using your abdominal muscles) and down. It may be easiest to do this from a supine position first, gently imprinting your lower back (taking the natural curve out and flattening it against the floor/mat) then reversing the motion into a gentle extension, increasing the curve by making your tailbone heavy. Be very gentle when doing this! A neutral spine should be in between, with a slight curve and you will have 3 "anchor points": your should blades and tailbone. Additionally, the ribs should not be in extension and the back of the lower rib cage should rest on the ground - but this will require strong obliques and transverse abdominus mucles so don't worry too much about this last bit yet. Keep your breastbone soft and try not to extend your upper body initially.

 

ii) In Pilates we will cue activating your "powerhouse" (a cylinder bounder by the pelvic floor on the bottom, diaphragm on top, tranversus abdominus are the walls and the seam are the multifidus of the spine) by drawing your lower abdomen (belly button to pubis) in to your spine. Most people will tighten their rectus abdominus and not activate their core completely.

 

iii) good exercises to "landmark" are 1) kneel on all fours with your wrists beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips and keep your spine neutral (no extension or flexion). Stand tall on your arms to draw the shoulder blades apart then sink down to bring them together. This will help mobilize the should blades. 2) Draw your shoulders up towards your ears, then lower them by reaching your fingertips to the floor keeping. Do this keeping your shoulder blades together. These exercises will help you feel the correct posture described above.

 

iv) we will cue neck position by thinking of generating length through the back of the body. Hold a broom handle (or other straight pole) against your spine and adjust so that your neck and thoracic spine are against the broom handle. Nod your head gently forward from the top of the cervical spine.

 

When doing these be gentle and don't force anything. Some of us are very tight so it will take time to generate the flexibility and mobility required for good posture.

 

Hope this helps. PM me with any specific questions.

post #24 of 25

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 911over View Post

Elsbeth, nice job with the mini and the start of correctives. Its a sized chunk easy enough for someone to get a start with & want for more when they feel some results. Docbrad brought up Chris Fellows book total skiing. Check it out when you can as it has some nice on snow assessments to play around with. Along with great skiing info.
Harddaysnite thanks for posting the specific descriptions of how to achieve an athletic posture. I would emphasize the glute/hip complex activation is to bring the pelvis forward to a proper alignment with the spine. The slight outward femur rotation is a good key that the knees are not being locked in error or compensation for weak glutes. I needed the ribcage & scapula reminders. And of course you're dead on with the entire thing and the benefits are lifelong when it is habit.
 

 

Another useful cue for squats is to think of widening the sit bones as you descend. To rise, push from your heels to activate the glute/hamstring muscles rather than pulling primarily with the quads. Reaching your breastbone and sit bones in opposition helps maintain a balanced position that'll keep your shoulders, knees and ankles in line. Keep your knees in line with your big and 2nd toe to avoid them winging out or inward.

 

Practicing these movements in the off season definitely helps reprogram the bad movement habits many of us picked up over the years. Crikey, I'm still working on them after 6 or 7 hours of Pilates a week for the last 18 months...

 

 

post #25 of 25

Great stuff here.  Thanks! 

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