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feel fore-aft balance on bottom of feet?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I heard many times that you are supposed to feel if you are skiing in the back seat by the pressure on the bottom of the feet (pressure on the heel- you're back).

 

I never consciously paid attention to that, if I think about it, of course I can feel where the pressure is, but my clue is normally pressure on my calf where it touches the back of the boot. Is this too late, and can i feel the pressure distribution on my soles earlier?

 

I can ski powder well balanced (I think) and pretty forward, certainly not turning the skis from the tails, until i hit a patch of ice, then I realize I am somewhat back seat, but it's kind of late.

 

I wonder if I paid more attention to the pressure on my soles, if I could realize I'm slightly back, then correct it so when I hit the patch if ice I am perfectly balanced.

If I ski something consistently ice, I can tell when I am not balanced and correct it pretty quickly.

 

I am looking for the quickest way to realize my balance is to the rear of the ski.

post #2 of 32

You need to change the way you think about fore/aft balance.

 

 

Fore/aft balance is not a static position, it is an activity.  Dont think of it as "Being in Balance", think of it as "Balancing".  Its active, not static.

 

We need to manipulate our fore/aft balance constantly, it is advantegous to start turn with our balance point forward (ie the balls of the feet) and it is advantegous to end out turn with our balance point aft (ie the heel of the feet).  This of course takes a fair degree of skill, so most skiers just go for the arch and do their best to stay there, (this is not bad, but is not as effective as it could be).

 

When maipulating fore/aft balance I do that with the feet.  When I want to get forward, I push down on the ball of the foot, when I want to get back I push down on the heel, when I want to be neutral, I load the arch of the my foot.  Of course other things are happening, but the bottom of the foot is what I think about, and feel to stay in balance.  When I am out of balance I know because my skis feel out of position, and I feel strain in my quads and core.

 

 

 

PS: for the record, based on your post (so this could be wrong), but I strongly suspect your issue is not too far back, its being too far forward.  When you hit ice, do your tails wash out?

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

.

 

 

 

PS: for the record, based on your post (so this could be wrong), but I strongly suspect your issue is not too far back, its being too far forward.  When you hit ice, do your tails wash out?

When I hit ice, I feel that my skis are running away from me, and also that I don;t have enough edge.

post #4 of 32
When I push DOWN on the front of my foot, I move back. I also tense my leg muscles (stiffen) if I think "push down".

I try to sense the bottoms of my feet AND where the contact of my leg with the boot cuff is greatest at the same time to gauge my balancing.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

When I hit ice, I feel that my skis are running away from me, and also that I don;t have enough edge.

 

Thats strange.  Well the bolded part is anyway.  You would need to describe what you mean by "running away" in more detail I think.

post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

When I push DOWN on the front of my foot, I move back. I also tense my leg muscles (stiffen) if I think "push down".
I try to sense the bottoms of my feet AND where the contact of my leg with the boot cuff is greatest at the same time to gauge my balancing.

 

Interesting.

 

When most people push down on the ball of the foot, they are extending the ankle, this will also occour with extension of the knee and hip.  As we extend all these joints together the leg lengthens and our COM is pulled forward....Conversly when we push on the heel, the ankle, knee and hip and flexing...causing our COM to go back...thus our weight goes back.

 

 

I think your "stiffen"ing of your leg muscles is causing your issues.  If you just extend the ankle and lock everything else, yup, you will end up in back.  Ankles, knees and hips need to work together. If you lock one or more of those joints up, you cant ski effectivley.

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

When maipulating fore/aft balance I do that with the feet.  When I want to get forward, I push down on the ball of the foot, when I want to get back I push down on the heel, when I want to be neutral, I load the arch of the my foot.  Of course other things are happening, but the bottom of the foot is what I think about, and feel to stay in balance.  When I am out of balance I know because my skis feel out of position, and I feel strain in my quads and core.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

When I push DOWN on the front of my foot, I move back. I also tense my leg muscles (stiffen) if I think "push down".
I try to sense the bottoms of my feet AND where the contact of my leg with the boot cuff is greatest at the same time to gauge my balancing.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

Interesting.

 

When most people push down on the ball of the foot, they are extending the ankle, this will also occour with extension of the knee and hip.  As we extend all these joints together the leg lengthens and our COM is pulled forward....Conversly when we push on the heel, the ankle, knee and hip and flexing...causing our COM to go back...thus our weight goes back.

 

 

I think your "stiffen"ing of your leg muscles is causing your issues.  If you just extend the ankle and lock everything else, yup, you will end up in back.  Ankles, knees and hips need to work together. If you lock one or more of those joints up, you cant ski effectivley.

 

This is something that makes me go "Hmmmmm." and I've come up with both outcomes.  The difference is between com location.  When I'm standing still and I push down on the bof my body wants to move back (action and reaction) and my ankle opens.  When I'm skiing and do this "I think what is happening" is when I press on the bof, my skis change the angle (actually it might be that they bend more) they are at and my body follows forward to maintain the same angle it was in since my com was forward.

 

One of the tests I did was with a bosu ball. First, on solid ground push on the bof.  It pushes you back as you would expect.  DO the same thing while leaning forward; it doesn't push you back.  Now take the bosu ball and turn it so the round side is down, stand on it.  If you want to maintain balance while pushing down on the bof, your ankle opens.  Do the same thing as you're leaning forward on it.  You just go forward faster and your ankle doesn't open - it probably does momentarily but just for a flash.

 

When you take this on the hill, you are "falling" ( I really don't want to debate the word more than it has been) down the hill so you will continue to lean down the hill like on the second test on the bosu because your com is forward.

 

Does this make sense to anyone else?

post #8 of 32

L&AirC

 

Not sure I follow you:

 

But I re-read my post and a better way for me to have put it would have been:

 

When I want to apply pressure to the ski's forebody I push down on the ball of the foot.  When I want to apply pressure to the ski's tail I push down on the heel.  When I want to apply pressure to the ski's mid section I pressure the arch. 

 

I dont wait to "feel" where my fore/aft balance is.  I am constantly aware of, and actively move the pressure "zone" along the bottom of my foot as the turn is initiated, progressed and completed.

 

I also can feel my feet relative to my COM at all times.  I am also constantly aware of having my feet support the COM.  However as I wrote above, its not just my feet supporting my COM, but certain parts of my feet for different parts of the turn.

 

Generally if I want to move my COM forward I stand taller, if I want to move it back I stand lower.  To do so I either extend my ankle/knee/hip together, or flex my ankle/knee/hip together as the case may be. 

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

L&AirC

 

Not sure I follow you:

 

But I re-read my post and a better way for me to have put it would have been:

 

When I want to apply pressure to the ski's forebody I push down on the ball of the foot.  When I want to apply pressure to the ski's tail I push down on the heel.  When I want to apply pressure to the ski's mid section I pressure the arch. 

 

I dont wait to "feel" where my fore/aft balance is.  I am constantly aware of, and actively move the pressure "zone" along the bottom of my foot as the turn is initiated, progressed and completed.

 

I also can feel my feet relative to my COM at all times.  I am also constantly aware of having my feet support the COM.  However as I wrote above, its not just my feet supporting my COM, but certain parts of my feet for different parts of the turn.

 

Generally if I want to move my COM forward I stand taller, if I want to move it back I stand lower.  To do so I either extend my ankle/knee/hip together, or flex my ankle/knee/hip together as the case may be. 

 

 Don't worry about it.  I don't always follow me either.

 

Maybe what's got me thrown off is your intermingling of push down and apply pressure.  You can apply pressure by moving your COM.  You stated here and in another thread a while back about pushing down on the bof to pressure the front of the ski.  That thread (I don't remember what it was called) is what got me playing with this.  If you mean you press down on the bof by moving your COM forward is different that pressing down on your bof.  Previously you stated it was quicker to do the latter.

 

What I'm trying to understand is how/why this works.  If you are fore/aft neutral or aft, if you press down on your bof, you go aft.  If your COM is forward and you do the same, you don't go aft and it at least feels like you go more forward.

 

Maybe this works because the ankle isn't strong enough to push that much force back like when your COM is forward and you are heading downhill.

 

Ken

post #10 of 32

If we're looking at fore-aft pressure specifically...

 

Why all this talk about downward push? Why not talk about staying centred, and if you need to make some kind of gross adjustment, pulling the skis back, or driving the skis forward? Pressure will build between your foot and the boot automatically thanks to the forces in action. All we need to do is manage where it's occurring and to what degree.

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

I guess I did not explain what I am after properly.

 

Question is if I wait to feel that I am in the back seat by feeling the pressure on the soles of my feet shift towards the heel, or proactively get forward at the beginning of the turn?

 

I think what i am doing now, ie feel the calf pressure the back of my boot gives me the back seat alert too late, and that feeling the pressure on my soles is an earlier indication, but even so, it still might be too late, and better to get froward before this happens.

post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I heard many times that you are supposed to feel if you are skiing in the back seat by the pressure on the bottom of the feet (pressure on the heel- you're back).

 

I never consciously paid attention to that, if I think about it, of course I can feel where the pressure is, but my clue is normally pressure on my calf where it touches the back of the boot. Is this too late, and can i feel the pressure distribution on my soles earlier?

 

I can ski powder well balanced (I think) and pretty forward, certainly not turning the skis from the tails, until i hit a patch of ice, then I realize I am somewhat back seat, but it's kind of late.

 

I wonder if I paid more attention to the pressure on my soles, if I could realize I'm slightly back, then correct it so when I hit the patch if ice I am perfectly balanced.

If I ski something consistently ice, I can tell when I am not balanced and correct it pretty quickly.

 

I am looking for the quickest way to realize my balance is to the rear of the ski.

I'll stab at the bolded request,

whenever you are not turning the skis back into the fall line, you can consider yourself backseat.

post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I guess I did not explain what I am after properly.

Question is if I wait to feel that I am in the back seat by feeling the pressure on the soles of my feet shift towards the heel, or proactively get forward at the beginning of the turn?

I think what i am doing now, ie feel the calf pressure the back of my boot gives me the back seat alert too late, and that feeling the pressure on my soles is an earlier indication, but even so, it still might be too late, and better to get froward before this happens.

I try NOT to feel getting into the back seat. My movements are forward along the skis and toward the turn. I use the sensations from the bottoms of my feet and the cuffs of the boots to help guide my efforts.
post #14 of 32

A German-Swiss race trainer use to yell ski harter!  Want to be a dynamic skier? Then start skiing like one. CHARGE into your turns. Crush that outside ski. This may seem obtrusive, but later you will become more finesse and subtle in your movements. Until you learn what is like to be in the drivers seat you will never realize you've been in the backseat .

post #15 of 32

The steeper/wickeder/scarier/gnarlier the terrain looks, the more fore my position is going to be and the more attacking my demeanor will be dropping in.  This post must be a troll.  If not, then the quickest way to realize that your balance is on the rear of the ski is when it washes out from under you.. and your head bounces off the ice..

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I guess I did not explain what I am after properly.

 

Question is if I wait to feel that I am in the back seat by feeling the pressure on the soles of my feet shift towards the heel, or proactively get forward at the beginning of the turn?

 

I think what i am doing now, ie feel the calf pressure the back of my boot gives me the back seat alert too late, and that feeling the pressure on my soles is an earlier indication, but even so, it still might be too late, and better to get froward before this happens.

I believe this is what Skidude was talking about in an earlier post here.  Many beginner/intermediate skiers try to remain centered and "react" when they sense an imbalance fore or aft.  This however, is a forever losing battle.  The expert skier learns to anticipate the accelerations and decelerations of linking turns and moves proactively to remain in dynamic balance.  This, as Skidude eluded to, involves skiing more ball, arch, heel through a turn where the base of support remains more inline with the "balance axis" or line of force.  

 

You can experiment with this idea by first linking a series of short turns while trying to remain centered in one spot under your feet.  Inevitably you will discover that you lose this balance point and are in a constant state of trying to recover to this centered position.  Then try another series of linked short turns only this time think about beginning the top of the turn on the balls of your feet moving to the arches through the fall line, and finishing with the pressure moved to the heels.  This is done most efficiently by moving the feet fore and aft underneath the CoM.  You will soon discover that by proactively moving the feet in this manner will keep you in a more solidly balanced state.

 

Waiting until you sense an imbalance to move and you will always be in a recovery mode rather than a offensive state of equilibrium!

post #17 of 32
Thread Starter 

thank you everyone, this is what I was looking for.

 

Just a bif of an add-on question:

 

When you are in no-fall allowed terrain, and it is very steep,, do you still move the wight to the heel at the end of the turn, or keep is always under the arch? We are talking about very short radius turns, skid a bit at the end, get the skis perpendicular to the fall line, and complete the turn.

 

It seems to me that the risk of falling is greater if you move the weight to the heels,

And anyway, you move the weight tothe heels when you want to stop the skis from turning, so when you want to totally complete the turn, you should probably keep loading the shovel of the ski.

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

thank you everyone, this is what I was looking for.

 

Just a bif of an add-on question:

 

When you are in no-fall allowed terrain, and it is very steep,, do you still move the wight to the heel at the end of the turn, or keep is always under the arch? We are talking about very short radius turns, skid a bit at the end, get the skis perpendicular to the fall line, and complete the turn.

 

It seems to me that the risk of falling is greater if you move the weight to the heels,

And anyway, you move the weight tothe heels when you want to stop the skis from turning, so when you want to totally complete the turn, you should probably keep loading the shovel of the ski.

 

Good question.

 

The answer is yes....and no.  It depends.  The top guys move their weight to their heels in "no fall" terrain because they ski it like anything else: ie dynamic turns.  Yes you move weight back to help end the turn (to work with the skis self steering effect) but you also move your weight back to antcipate the virtual bump effects...the effect is dependent on the dyanamism of your turn and the pitch of the slope - steeper terrain with more dynamic turns create greater VB effects, slower turns with flatter terrain is less....much less.  Just look at any photo of top guys at the end of the turns.  Their COM will appear back relative to their feet.  If they didnt, they would be too far forward, and end up going over the handlebars.

 

A key point to understand thou...is these top guys are not sitting back.  They are balanced.  The dyanimic turns in expert terrain move skiing into 3D.  This is not to say you cant sit back in the steep stuff....many of the goober wannabes on the fatties are waaaaay back, its why many of them cant turn.  Others stuck in that upper intermediate to low advanced plateau are forward or netural and just stay there all the time, creating a breaking effect the whole time....of being too far back or too forward, too forward is better.....but it is limiting also.

 

Remember thou...the futher you get back to end the turn...the more you have to go to get forward to start the next one...and vice versa.  Its athletic dyanmic skiing.

post #19 of 32

I believe there a a distinctive difference here in intent when skiing something very steep in a no fall zone.  When going from offensive turning to defensive braking the skis are being pivoted to an edge set rather than shaping a round turn finish with the skis moving forward more than sideways.  When pivoting to an edge set I would agree with your thinking of keeping the weight more centered.  This type of turning is much closer to the pivot slip mechanics at one end of the turning spectrum where there is less turning more pivoting.  

 

Remember too, that finishing a turn with more heel pressure does not mean the hips necessarily need to move behind the feet or that we end up in the back seat with the skis squirting out from under us.  To the point, you can feel pressure move to your heels simply by dorsiflexing your ankle inside your boot which also helps move the hips forward rather than back.  So pressuring the heels doesn't necessarily mean we are in the back seat or out of balance.

post #20 of 32

Good post Skidude!  You can see Skidude is referring to keeping the turns offensive and rounder and staying true to the concept we have been discussing.  I eluded to a mental switch to defensive skiing that many skiers make when in butt puckering situations.   

 

Another point to make here is as an expert skier skis the steeps and moves the feet forward and back under the CoM there is a point in the turn where the old turn is released.  This is where the feet will move forward as the CoM crosses paths taking the short cut toward the new apex.  This creates an appearance of the skier being in the back seat when they are actually in dynamic balance.   Skiers who have not mastered this balancing act will have a tendency to experience the skis squirting out from under them and ending up in an unbalanced aft position.  Experts move accurately to maintain dynamic balance throughout the turns.  

post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

When I hit ice, I feel that my skis are running away from me, and also that I don;t have enough edge.


Calves on the back of the boots doesn't necessarily indicate that your in the back seat... what you feel on the bottom of your foot and how you feel your skis engage the snow will tell you a lot more about where your balance is. However by your description of the "skis running away from you" it certainly does sound like the back seat is where you are at that moment in time when you hit the ice patches. The skis taking off is classic symptom of not anticipating the change in the amount of friction the snow provides. Look ahead and realize that when you hit that patch of ice your skis are going to want to speed up and leave your center of mass behind. You need to make the adjustment (ie: pull the feet back) before it actually happens.

 

Of course Skidude and Bud have already made it clear that balance is a dynamic process in any turn regardless of changing snow conditions so I won't harp on that.

post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinerd View Post

 The skis taking off is classic symptom of not anticipating the change in the amount of friction the snow provides. Look ahead and realize that when you hit that patch of ice your skis are going to want to speed up and leave your center of mass behind. You need to make the adjustment (ie: pull the feet back) before it actually happens.

 

Of course Skidude and Bud have already made it clear that balance is a dynamic process in any turn regardless of changing snow conditions so I won't harp on that.

At the risk of sounding like an idiot:

 

Sometimes you can hit a patch of ice that is covered by powder, so it's not visible. How can you adjust to lower friction is you don;t know it is coming?

post #23 of 32

As your skis travel down the mountain they create negative camber/bend and give you feed back. Adjusting your CoM keeps you balanced. You don't need to see to ski,but it does help a lot.wink.gif

post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
 How can you adjust to lower friction is you don;t know it is coming?

 

keep your knees soft

post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

At the risk of sounding like an idiot:

 

Sometimes you can hit a patch of ice that is covered by powder, so it's not visible. How can you adjust to lower friction is you don;t know it is coming?

You cant.

 

So the key is to always be mindful of where your balance is, if you are balanced you can go from snow to ice and back without too much trouble.  Further a key benefit of skiing in balance is you can react and adjust much much quicker then if you are out of balance.  You can try this at home, stand in balance like a tennis player waiting for a serve...you will notice you can move up/down/left/right etc etc very quickly.  Now try it again this time standing so you are out balance...like just teetetering on falling over....you will note from this position you cant move up/down/left/right very quickly at all.

 

A few rules of thumb:

 

"If you are relying on your gear to stay upright, you are out of balance." ie if your ski boots where soft and you had no skis, would you fall on your face or butt?  Yes?  You are out of balance.  No? You are in balance.

 

"To always be in balance....requires constant balancing".  

post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

At the risk of sounding like an idiot:

 

Sometimes you can hit a patch of ice that is covered by powder, so it's not visible. How can you adjust to lower friction is you don;t know it is coming?

You cant.

 

So the key is to always be mindful of where your balance is, if you are balanced you can go from snow to ice and back without too much trouble.  Further a key benefit of skiing in balance is you can react and adjust much much quicker then if you are out of balance.  You can try this at home, stand in balance like a tennis player waiting for a serve...you will notice you can move up/down/left/right etc etc very quickly.  Now try it again this time standing so you are out balance...like just teetetering on falling over....you will note from this position you cant move up/down/left/right very quickly at all.

 

A few rules of thumb:

 

"If you are relying on your gear to stay upright, you are out of balance." ie if your ski boots where soft and you had no skis, would you fall on your face or butt?  Yes?  You are out of balance.  No? You are in balance.

 

"To always be in balance....requires constant balancing".  


Flexing and extending your joints to take advantage of leverage and angles play a large roll in retaining a constant balance. IMO.

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

I believe there a a distinctive difference here in intent when skiing something very steep in a no fall zone.  When going from offensive turning to defensive braking the skis are being pivoted to an edge set rather than shaping a round turn finish with the skis moving forward more than sideways.  When pivoting to an edge set I would agree with your thinking of keeping the weight more centered.  This type of turning is much closer to the pivot slip mechanics at one end of the turning spectrum where there is less turning more pivoting.  

 

Remember too, that finishing a turn with more heel pressure does not mean the hips necessarily need to move behind the feet or that we end up in the back seat with the skis squirting out from under us.  To the point, you can feel pressure move to your heels simply by dorsiflexing your ankle inside your boot which also helps move the hips forward rather than back.  So pressuring the heels doesn't necessarily mean we are in the back seat or out of balance.

 

 

We haven't really discussed the sensations from the top of your foot. Kneale touched on it in post 4. I think sometimes when we talk about pressure-ing instead of managing pressure we forget that pressure management is as much about taking pressure away as it is about increasing it. Is there anything to be learned from the top of your foot? 

post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post

 

keep your knees soft

And your core tight.

post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy View Post

 

 

We haven't really discussed the sensations from the top of your foot. Kneale touched on it in post 4. I think sometimes when we talk about pressure-ing instead of managing pressure we forget that pressure management is as much about taking pressure away as it is about increasing it. Is there anything to be learned from the top of your foot? 

Yes Jimmy, good point! This is true with the edging and rotary skills as well.  A good fitting ski boot aids in pressure control management by permitting only very minor movement inside the boot so that dorsiflexing the ankle will translate energy quickly by the upper forefoot meeting resistance from the instep of the boot with little to zero delay.  This is true for any abduction or adduction inside the boot as well as inversion and eversion.  Any slop inside the boot hinders pressure management.  For experts it all starts with a snugly fitting but comfortable boot and a very developed kinesthetic sensitivity to pressures under and around the feet!

post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post


Flexing and extending your joints to take advantage of leverage and angles play a large roll in retaining a constant balance. IMO.

 

I tend to think with my feet and my joints move unconsciously to support what my feet tell me to do!  Remember the majority of our balancing proprioceptors are in our feet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRN View Post

And your core tight.

 

IMO a strong core is very very key to good skiing but, I don't share the idea of maintaining constant core tension to aid balance.  Again, it is more a subconscious effort that benefits greatly from having a stronger core available for action.  Expert skiers know intuitively when to contract and relax the core muscles rather than carrying constant tension.

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