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