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Tight calves... cause for being back seat?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I know its not my only problem by a longshot but I notice while skiing I am fighting to keep my shins against the boot cuff. It seems the cuff is winning and pushing me back. My boots are pretty soft intermediate level (Dalbello Aero 67). I was doing some deep sustained squats trying to work on keeping my knees over my toes and my heels kept popping up. I then noticed I have difficulty with dorsiflexion and felt a tight pulling sensation in my calves when stretched. Just wondering if anyone has experienced this before either themselves or when instructing and if this could be contributing to my difficulties with my fore/aft balance? thanks.

agreen

post #2 of 7

agreen, what you're describing isn't specific to the calfs as much as a combination of flex issues in the lower half of the body. Obviously stretching those tight calfs is a great idea since more range of motion reduces the possibility of an injury. That doesn't mean they operate in isolation though. The Plantar facia, hamstrings and glutes are on on that posterior side of the legs as well and they are all connected and work together. So if one area is tight the rest can usually compensate a bit. Check with your DR but here's a easy stretch that will increase your RoM in that area. Try standing on a stair with your heels hanging over the edge of the stair. Slowly allow your heels to drop and your calfs to stretch. Don't over do it though, it takes time to make any lasting changes.

 

A second issue you are experiencing is very common one, especially when you follow the advice to always stay forward and always drive your shins into the tongues of the boots. Stop working so hard! Kneel against the tongues and let the boots support your weight. Obviously as you do this your stance will be a bit taller and if you think about it it's a bit more natural since is your skeleton that should be doing most of the weight bearing. As the legs flex, the muscles progressively take over the weight bearing role (think of them carrying more tension) and as they do this you are less able to use them to make supple absorbing moves. Think of the boots as supporting your weight, not an impediment to moving your knees forward and dorisflexing the ankle.

 

The third issue is related to how the leg flexes and how the femur (thigh bone) affects where the pelvis goes when we flex the knees and hips. In short a horizontal femur means the hips will be aft of the ankles. Just like they are when you sit in a chair. Compensating for this we break at the waist and allow our shoulders to move forward, or we move the arms forward. Not a problem if we end up here occasionally but if you are trying to stay in this squatted stance all the time, then you will continue to have the "can't get forward" problems.

 

Hope it helps...

 

  


Edited by justanotherskipro - 2/8/12 at 11:57am
post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post

I know its not my only problem by a longshot but I notice while skiing I am fighting to keep my shins against the boot cuff. It seems the cuff is winning and pushing me back. My boots are pretty soft intermediate level (Dalbello Aero 67). I was doing some deep sustained squats trying to work on keeping my knees over my toes and my heels kept popping up. I then noticed I have difficulty with dorsiflexion and felt a tight pulling sensation in my calves when stretched. Just wondering if anyone has experienced this before either themselves or when instructing and if this could be contributing to my difficulties with my fore/aft balance? thanks.

agreen


Newton's Third Law is coming into play here:  for every action, there's an equal an opposite reaction.  The harder you try to push into your boot cuffs, the harder they're going to try to push you back.  Your leaning against the boot cuffs is also causing the ski tips to be glued to the snow, so any terrain variations are going to push against the ski tip and in turn, against you.  i.e., you are going to lose this battle.

 

There has been discussion here regarding fore/aft balance which I'm not really qualified to get into.  I used to ski in the fashion that you describe (i.e., shins into the boot cuffs at all times) until I learned that doing that leads to a large number of undesirable things.  Suffice it to say that I try to ski now such that I'm pretty neutral in my stance (for the most part) -- i.e., I can feel contact between my shins and my boot cuffs, but not usually any type of real "pressure".  It's a lot less tiring, it keeps you over the skis sweet spot, etc.

 

 

post #4 of 7

The elastic nature of the ski boots involves a lot more than Newton's third law but your basic premise is mostly correct Kevin. The boots will only flex so far and they will seek to return to their normal shape. When they bottom out (reach their maximum flex point) no amount of effort will make them flex more at least not without breaking the shell. Bottom line is once the ankle cannot dorsiflex and we continue to flex the leg, the hips will drop aft. Your experience and advice to ski taller and more centered (balanced on the middle of the ski) is exactly where I was going. Thanks for posting it. 

post #5 of 7
Start the calf stretch with a thick book or piece of 2X4, not the stairs. If you slip and go too far on the stairs, you can damage the Achilles tendon.

I tore an Achilles years ago and the therapist advice was to stretch the tendons by standing on a ramp that had a 35 degree pitch for extended periods. I used to spend five to ten minutes a day on the ramp I made from scrap boards. It took a while to get up to that time range. I still use the ramp occasionally.
post #6 of 7

Good point Kneale! I've never slipped off a stair but it certainly could happen. Start small and be safe...

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post

I know its not my only problem by a longshot but I notice while skiing I am fighting to keep my shins against the boot cuff. It seems the cuff is winning and pushing me back. My boots are pretty soft intermediate level (Dalbello Aero 67). I was doing some deep sustained squats trying to work on keeping my knees over my toes and my heels kept popping up. I then noticed I have difficulty with dorsiflexion and felt a tight pulling sensation in my calves when stretched. Just wondering if anyone has experienced this before either themselves or when instructing and if this could be contributing to my difficulties with my fore/aft balance? thanks.

agreen


agreen,  Your issue could also be related to equipment angles on the sagittal (fore/aft) plane.  Have an instructor or boot fitter competent in this area take a look.  A few easy adjustments in your equipment could cause an immediate improvement in your skiing performance!

 

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