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Skiing & Dynamic Balance

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Sponsored Content by Opedix

 

 

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Skiing & Dynamic Balance

How many times have you heard someone mention something about “stance on your skis” or “balance”? These are the most basic and important skills of skiing in all terrains and conditions. There are many other important skills, however without good balance and a functional stance the other skills are somewhat meaningless. But there really is no “perfect stance” for all terrains, or even the same terrain on different days. 

 

Stance needs to be dynamic to keep balance. It changes in an instant, depending partially on what you are trying to achieve and, most importantly, depending on all the forces that are acting upon you at each moment in time, such as gravity, friction, centripetal force, etc. It’s all about moving in a way as to keep your center of mass (the three dimensional balance point of all the mass of your body) supported by your base of support (the bottom of your skis) so you can manipulate all these forces to work for you.

 

Neutral Stance 

There is no perfect stance but you need to start somewhere. A strong “neutral stance” is the position that your body regains during that brief moment between turns. This differs slightly for people with different body types and tends to be a little lower and more aggressive in fast higher performance skiing and a little taller and more relaxed in slower cruising. Ideally at this point you want to feel even pressure on the bottom of your feet making the center of the skis your “base of support.” Think athletic posture where you are slightly flexed in all the joints and ready to react or move in any direction. Remember that your ankles and feet are locked in stiff ski boots so their range of motion is restricted quite a bit. You will need to compensate for this with other joints in order to feel that balance directly under your feet. Keep your hands out in front of you, your shoulders over your knees and looking ahead with your derriere over the top of your heel pieces on your bindings.

 

Being Dynamic 

From the athletic neutral stance, you will now need to be constantly moving as you position your body to keep balance. How you move depends a lot on exactly what you want to do. Think about what happens when you bend or extend certain joints, flexing just ankles equals moving forward, bending just knees equals moving backwards, bending just at the waist equals moving forward. The objective is to move all these joints in harmony to counteract whatever forces you are dealing with at the time. It is much easier to move quickly with the lower body than it is with the upper body.

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Keep the core tight and shuffle your feet back and forth underneath you as opposed to swinging your upper body back and forth, the upper body should remain “quiet.” In most turns you will want to feel like you’re pulling your feet back underneath you at the start of a turn engaging a bit more of the front part of the skis, then pushing them slightly ahead towards the end to engaging more of the tails. It’s interesting to figure out which joints are doing what and when.

 

The joints are all important when discussing Dynamic Balance. The lower body joints, from the hips down, are what allow us to achieve good Dynamic Balance.

 

The hips play a central role in skiing because they are, literally, central to your body. The hips are where the upper and lower body are connected, and if the upper and lower body are to work independently, the muscles around the hips must constantly contract and relax in a coordinated fashion to adjust your balance and manipulate your skis while adapting to changes in external forces. These muscles support and balance the mass of the upper body over the heads of the femurs, and good alignment in the mid-body is largely a matter of arrangement of the hips.

 

The knees also play a central role in skiing. Although the knee is typically viewed as a “hinge joint” allowing flexion and extension, it can also rotate in other directions as well. Large stresses are placed on the ligaments and cartilage when the knee bends or rotates inwards or outward. For example, one of the mechanisms of ACL injury during skiing is the “phantom foot” where the knee bends inward and rotates outward as you are falling backward. The muscles around your knee typically protect the ACL but are relatively helpless in this position. In fact, anything that is placed on the knee for protection (like a knee brace, knee sleeve, knee support etc.) is helpless if you find yourself in this position. 

 

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All levels of skiers can find their Dynamic Balance to be reduced from muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue not only reduces how fast your muscles can react to sudden or unexpected forces but also influences your awareness of where the joints of your body are positioned in space. Your quadriceps muscles, located on the top of your thighs, are the primary muscles that help you maintain Dynamic Balance while you shock absorb as you connect turns. As a consequence these muscles are also the most susceptible to fatigue. 

 

Opedix has developed technologies to help your Dynamic Balance. The Opedix tights are in essence a form fitting base layer with a built in tensioning system. Scientific testing in the laboratory and on the slopes has found these tights to increase the awareness of your neutral stance and reduce the rate of quadriceps muscle fatigue. Increased awareness and reduced fatigue can be very effective in helping a skier achieve proper Dynamic Balance by helping your ability to place the lower body in correct anatomical alignment and counter external forces. Improved Dynamic Balance with the Opedix tights will help reduce the wear-and-tear on your knees and allow the muscles to efficiently and rapidly react to the terrain for better and safer day on the mountain. Please see http://www.opedix.com/kinetic-health for more information.

post #2 of 24
So Opedix tights will help with balance? How??
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Click the link to the Opedix site to learn the technical details. 

post #4 of 24
Is that name pronounced like "orthopaedics" minus the "orth" part?

I talked to a guy a couple weeks ago who was stoked on using similar engineered compression tights for hiking and trail running. Never tried them myself.
post #5 of 24

The web site reprints one scientific study.  Do you know where the study was published, by whom it was funded, and whether the author has any financial relationship with the company? 

post #6 of 24
They are a forum sponsor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

The web site reprints one scientific study.  Do you know where the study was published, by whom it was funded, and whether the author has any financial relationship with the company? 
post #7 of 24

So are you wearing them in the photo of you skiing? Seems that skier is leaning in and not angulating enough to keep a neutral stance; could be the angle of the shot though. would you MA that turn with respect to tights? Sounds like pro mo, but I guess that's legit here.

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

So Opedix tights will help with balance? How??

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself. 

 

I'm "double jointed" which is a misleading term but essentially, my connective tissue is flexible and that can make for extra fatigue on my joints.  Since using the Opedix S1 tights, I've noticed that my knees are supported just enough to keep me a stacked a little better and I have a lot less knee fatigue during the day. 

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

So are you wearing them in the photo of you skiing? Seems that skier is leaning in and not angulating enough to keep a neutral stance; could be the angle of the shot though. would you MA that turn with respect to tights? Sounds like pro mo, but I guess that's legit here.

 

If the OP wasn't Nolo and the product wasn't a sponsor, I would call this whole thread spam.  It seems to me to be more about a pitch for underwear than a discussion about how to maintain dynamic balance while skiing.  

 

I have heard good things about the product and have thought about investing in a pair as I know a rep in my SS.  I don't harbor strong expectations that any underwear, all by itself, will dramatically improve my dynamic balance.  Where is Vitamin Ski when we need him? wink.gif

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

The "sponsored content" maybe needs to be in larger print? This is a companion piece to the contest that our sponsor, Opedix, is conducting exclusively for you nice folks: Enter the Opedix "Ease the Pain" Contest!

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 

.  I don't harbor strong expectations that any underwear, all by itself, will dramatically improve my dynamic balance.  wink.gif

When I have a particularly good day skiing I don't change my lucky underwear until I have a bad day. Hope that's not TMI.

post #12 of 24

this concept has been around for a bit, UA and Adidas already have/had products to enhance core strength/athletic performance. UA also has a recovery specific set of undies! 
 

Point is if it helps you good! if it doesn't at least they keep you warmer! ;)

post #13 of 24

Thanks so much for your questions!  A study was conducted by a Ph.D. biomechanist at the University of Denver that observed 325 ski instructors and ski patrollers from Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly and Northstar.  If you are interested in reviewing the results, go to https://www.opedix.com/Opedix_Test_Summary.pdf.

 

Opedix has developed technologies to help your Dynamic Balance. The Opedix tights are in essence a form fitting base layer with a built in tensioning system. Scientific testing in the laboratory and on the slopes has found these tights to increase the awareness of your neutral stance and reduce the rate of quadriceps muscle fatigue. Increased awareness and reduced fatigue can be very effective in helping a skier achieve proper Dynamic Balance by helping your ability to place the lower body in correct anatomical alignment and counter external forces. Improved Dynamic Balance with the Opedix tights will help reduce the wear-and-tear on your knees and allow the muscles to efficiently and rapidly react to the terrain for better and safer day on the mountain. Please see http://www.opedix.com/kinetic-health for more information.

 
post #14 of 24

Opedix is it possible to have the entire study available, including research methods, detail numbers etc?
 

Thanks.

post #15 of 24

Dynamic balance?  IDK about that, but I bought a two pair of the 3/4 insulator tights about three years ago through PSIA and I really don't like to wear anything else as a base layer in the early season.  IME they make a difference in the amount of fatigue I have at the end of a fairly hard day of skiing.  Last December I spent three days skiing at Big Sky in PSIA clinics.  I wore the Opedix tights on Friday and Saturday and Patagonia Merino blend bottoms on Sunday.  My legs felt fine Friday and Saturday evenings but when I left Sunday, after skiing all day, my legs were definitely tired.  Later in the season I don't think they make as much difference.

post #16 of 24

This is a different meaning of "dynamic balance" than I normally understand "dynamic balance" carries on these forums.

 

In its normal meaning, "dynamic balance" is not particularly important during transitions - because forces acting on the skier are not being balanced against each other.

 

From my understanding of the OP, a term like 'agility balance' or 'balanced agility' or 'balanced readiness' would be closer to the meaning intended above?

post #17 of 24

Thank you for your question on the study that was conducted on our tights.  The scientific study investigating the short and long term effects of the knee support tights on knee pain, stiffness and muscle fatigue in professional skiers was a feasibility study supported by Vail Resorts and Aspen.  In scientific terms it was a pilot study that used electronic questionnaires to validate the effectiveness of the tights during a high demand knee action sport and will not be published in the scientific literature.  Dr. Michael Decker designed and implemented the study initially as a post-doctoral researcher at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail and finished the study when he took a position as a Staff Scientist at the University of Denver.  He currently serves as a biomechanical consultant for Opedix while he continues to work in the Human Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Denver.

 

The full version of this pilot study is planned to be replicated this winter at a major ski resort in Utah.  Dr. Kevin Shelburne from the University of Denver will serve as the lead scientist and author when the results are sent for peer review publication in a scientific journal. Dr. Decker will serve in an advisory capacity as well.

 

post #18 of 24

A bit of a stretch, me thinks.

 

This is kinda like me selling you bananas to help your dynamic balance.  I could link studies that show potassium, found in bananas, is helpful to prevent muscle fatigue and note that muscle fatigue is not good for dynamic balance.

post #19 of 24

I'm only interested in buying the glowy golf ball model.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

 

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post #20 of 24

Er, by glowy golf ball model, I mean that make of shirt/pants. Not the guy who's modelling the clothes. Oh whatever, I'll take it all. 

post #21 of 24

I would have said this kind of thing was hooey a few years ago but my understandings have changed considerably in the last few years.  For me I doubt that I would see a large benefit from this product but my wife might see a large benefit.  The reason is I have a very high degree of proprioception and my wife has very little if any and any clothing that increases awareness through touch might be or great benefit.

 

In your muscles are sensors for position much like a machine uses sensors to detect limits on movement. These sensor nerves send signals back to the brain that are processed to give a sense of where a body part is in relation to other body parts.  I guess the best example would be the ability to touch your nose with your eyes closed.  With low proprioception your ability to perform that task may be much worse than someone with high proprioceptive ability.  I say may be because a person with very little proprioception can learn position much like a blind person learns to navigate in their home.  This thread puts the idea in my head that clothing could make a world of difference in how fast you learn movement.  That might be especially true for balance.

 

An experiment for yourself might be to try touching your nose with your eyes closed without clothing, then with loose clothing and then with stretch tight fitting clothing.  The difference in position awareness should convince a few of you with average to low proprioception.

 

Like everything else about humans I would imagine that proprioception runs in a bell curve with the peak being average and the high point being where most gifted atheletes would fall.   I would hazard a guess that most people who stick with skiing are average and above in proprioception. If you don't feel like sports comes naturally to you I would hazard a guess that you are near average and the right clothing might enhance your learning curve. 

 

For myself, I can't stand  things like tights for a base layer.  Now I can see the reason might be that tights send back a lot of touchy feely information.  Now I think tights might give me information overload.  My wife on the otherhand seems to have a lot of undergarments that lay close to the skin.  I think I will do more study into this to possibly help her as even walking has its challenges.  She falls a lot.

 

Just my two cents.

post #22 of 24

Interesting point, Pierre, eh

 

Do we have any research that shows diminishing proprioception with increasing muscle fatigue?  I assume we do.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pierre View Post

 

Like everything else about humans I would imagine that proprioception runs in a bell curve with the peak being average and the high point being where most gifted atheletes would fall.   I would hazard a guess that most people who stick with skiing are average and above in proprioception. If you don't feel like sports comes naturally to you I would hazard a guess that you are near average and the right clothing might enhance your learning curve. 

 

For myself, I can't stand  things like tights for a base layer.  Now I can see the reason might be that tights send back a lot of touchy feely information.  Now I think tights might give me information overload.  My wife on the otherhand seems to have a lot of undergarments that lay close to the skin.  I think I will do more study into this to possibly help her as even walking has its challenges.  She falls a lot.

 

Just my two cents.

post #23 of 24

probably not proprioception per se, but the effectiveness of muscle firing and control yes.

post #24 of 24
Don't take this the wrong way, as I'm actually interested in this product, but; any time I work out, the third day is always the most painful/sore. And by Sunday you had skied 3 days, as opposed to 1 on Saturday.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtcyclist View Post

Dynamic balance?  IDK about that, but I bought a two pair of the 3/4 insulator tights about three years ago through PSIA and I really don't like to wear anything else as a base layer in the early season.  IME they make a difference in the amount of fatigue I have at the end of a fairly hard day of skiing.  Last December I spent three days skiing at Big Sky in PSIA clinics.  I wore the Opedix tights on Friday and Saturday and Patagonia Merino blend bottoms on Sunday.  My legs felt fine Friday and Saturday evenings but when I left Sunday, after skiing all day, my legs were definitely tired.  Later in the season I don't think they make as much difference.
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