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snowboard alignment issues

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Snowboarding alignment is ignored even more than skiing alignment because misalignment does not result in as many boot pain issues.

 

This is from a thread in the ski instruction forum (Thanks Pierre). I brought it over here because I need to learn some things. The obvious response to this is that snowboard boot misalignment causes less boot pain issues because the boots are softer (D'uh!). But if we assume that the same distribution of misalignment issues occurs in skiers and snowboarders, then should we assume there is the same level of impact on performance? Or is there something inherent about snowboards that mitigates typical alignment issues? For example if someone is knock kneed, can we mitigate that by getting a stiffer board or by changing the stance width/stance angles?

 

Personally, I use my old ski boot footbeds in my snowboard boots. For my students, I rarely see alignment issues causing technique problems (but this may be my bad). I do see stance setups causing technique problems. I sometimes recommend stance changes to overcome intractable technique issues. I often recommend stance changes to increase comfort levels. I suspect that finding a comfortable stance/highback setup is an effective means of changing equipment to deal with misalignment. 

 

Let's use this thread to explore this topic and get some answers!

post #2 of 20

Well, if you naturally pronate or supinate on a ski, your edge tracks in the snow and it affects your ability to release edges. When your feet are strapped into a snowboard, I'm not sure I see how some supination or pronation engages the edge...? 

 

I do think the fore-aft alignment issues are relevant though, which we can partially offset by adjusting the high-backs.

 

As for being knock-kneed or bow-legged... I had to learn to bow my legs (specifically the rear leg) to be able to turn on steeper terrain. That said, I don't remember why, or if it's related to alignment :confused

post #3 of 20

my opinion...

 

with the feet, supinate or pronate, it's more of a comfort issue, since I do pronate and have insoles made  by a bootfitter.  Heel lift is still an issue for some people (including me), which only affects me going (of course) toe side.

 

other "alignment" "issues" are on the snowboard itself, on where the bindings are.  A big part is rider preferences, in no particular order:

 

first there is setback, which influences how much weight is distributed front & rear.  The board type influences this and wear you set your bindings.  Having appropiate setback is appropiate for the type of riding and conditions you ride in.

 

Second, there is stance width.  This affects stability and ease of turning.  Wider increases stability, and makes it harder to turn.  The opposite is true.

 

3rd: Goofy vs Regular.

 

4th: binding (rotational angle),... this is probably really tricky to explain.  first you don't want to kill your knees,  but rotation of the binding does affect how the system behaves.

 

5th... is boot overhang... if the boot (heel and toe) overhangs the board, you may trip over yourself.  There are spacers to lift up the boot, or increase the angle of the binding to compensate, or there are some wider boards.  If your board is too wide.... then you kill your edge control.

 

That's some of the stuff I can think of, when I set up my board.

 

Forward lean on the high back, I typically run no forward lean.  If it's extra icy, then I'll increase it, such forces my knees to bend more so that I can have more power in the turns.  It's not very comfortable at the more extreme angles.... so minute changes are key to adjusting for conditions & type of riding.

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys - I'm trying to focus on how to identify and adapt the board to a rider's biomechanical issues.  I'm looking more to Met's focus than Tan's. Tan has got good stuff there, but we all know the advice of "do the adjustments that feel good". I'm trying to get to advice pros can give out that works out to something like "if you are knock kneed try this adjustment".

 

So let's take knock kneed for example. On skis, we'd cant the boots undo the knock kneed-ness. But I've never heard of anyone doing this. Footbeds can correct some of this. But what happens if we leave it uncorrected? First, we're going to get more weight over the center of the board. Second, (unless we are in a 0-0 or duck stance) we're going get less weight on the front heel and the back to edges. The latter probably won't make much difference to all except for high end riders, but the former could make a big difference for a rider who is already on a soft board riding on hard snow. For a pure duck stance knock knees are going to bring the weight slightly to the toe edge. With a Burton channel binding you could compensate by shifting the binding center slightly to the heel edge.

 

This is the kind of advice I'm trying to develop/validate/get consensus on. My fear/excitement is that snowboarding is inherently biomechanically oblivious (i.e. these issues are mostly irrelevant because the feet are bolted to a common platform and the body is positioned sideways. But which is it?

post #5 of 20

knock knee you can compensate with the angle of the binding.

 

snowboarding isn't inherent biomechanically oblivious.  Because the feet are bolted to a common platform and side body position, there are biomechanic similarities and differences, and how to compensate for it.

post #6 of 20

It's a good question. I like therusty's thoughts around outcomes of supination/pronation. Are those outcomes true? Will someone who's knock kneed actually have more pressure along the centre of the board? The only physics I know comes from CSIA and World of Goo. I wonder if jamt can comment...?  

 

I do think that at lower levels of riding, one's plantarflexion (opening the ankle) and dorsiflexion (closing the ankle) are the most significant for alignment; they affect how far your mass sits over each edge (hence your balance), along with your ability to get over each edge. Highback adjustments can compensate for someone who lacks plantarflexion. Not sure how you can address dorsiflexion limitations; toe lifts?

 

How would you assess plantarflexion/dorsiflexion? Doing a few hops on a straight run on a mellow pitch, and looking for edge engagement? 

post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

It's a good question. I like therusty's thoughts around outcomes of supination/pronation. Are those outcomes true? Will someone who's knock kneed actually have more pressure along the centre of the board? The only physics I know comes from CSIA and World of Goo. I wonder if jamt can comment...?  

 

I do think that at lower levels of riding, one's plantarflexion (opening the ankle) and dorsiflexion (closing the ankle) are the most significant for alignment; they affect how far your mass sits over each edge (hence your balance), along with your ability to get over each edge. Highback adjustments can compensate for someone who lacks plantarflexion. Not sure how you can address dorsiflexion limitations; toe lifts?

 

How would you assess plantarflexion/dorsiflexion? Doing a few hops on a straight run on a mellow pitch, and looking for edge engagement? 

here's one study on the ankle kinematics:

http://journals.humankinetics.com/AcuCustom/Sitename/Documents/DocumentItem/5208.pdf

 

in terms of balancing mass from edge to edge, you actually want the mass to be centered on the board.  Fore-aft (tip to tail centering, that's a different issue, see setback).  The most common balancing mistake for noobs is bending your back to be hunched over, and then using it in an effort to balance themselves.

 

pronation/supination isn't a huge factor in snowboarding like it would be on skis, because it's not directly affecting the edges, like it would on skis. It may affect where your weight is centered tip-tail on the board, which you can compensate for from a pure binding positioning stand point.

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanscrazydaisy View Post
 

pronation/supination isn't a huge factor in snowboarding like it would be on skis, because it's not directly affecting the edges, like it would on skis. It may affect where your weight is centered tip-tail on the board, which you can compensate for from a pure binding positioning stand point.

or more subtly with stance angles?

 

Since Burton's channel binding concept has not become widespread in use and similar alternatives (i.e. precisely adjustable edge to edge and fore/aft) have not been invented(?) is a clue to me that there is not a big need here. If someone is a half degree off on their canting, shifting their binding position a set of holes forward or back is probably too much of an adjustment.

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

or more subtly with stance angles?

 

Since Burton's channel binding concept has not become widespread in use and similar alternatives (i.e. precisely adjustable edge to edge and fore/aft) have not been invented(?) is a clue to me that there is not a big need here. If someone is a half degree off on their canting, shifting their binding position a set of holes forward or back is probably too much of an adjustment.

 

It just depends on how you want the board set up for the type of riding you intent to do.

 

The great thing about Burton's channel setup is that it offers the rider the ability to make quick (and minute) adjustments, vs the more traditional "fixed" setup.

 

Back to the original thought... maybe (my opinion here), since snowboard boots are softer and more forgiving than ski boots, the alignment issues won't be as amplified as ski boots.

 

P.S. For me due to my medium-high arch (that also collapses).... I used to pop in a couple of Alleve before I hit the slopes to deal with the pain in my ankles, even with only 1 run, my feet were in pain.  Then after going to a good bootfitter (who also makes his own orthotics from plastic molds of my feet).....  most of the pain went away, so that I can actually enjoy riding.


Edited by tanscrazydaisy - 11/7/13 at 6:36am
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanscrazydaisy View Post
 

Back to the original thought... maybe (my opinion here), since snowboard boots are softer and more forgiving than ski boots, the alignment issues won't be as amplified as ski boots.

 

So do these issues manifest in hardboot setups? 

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

 

So do these issues manifest in hardboot setups? 

That, I can't tell you or offer any opinion

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

 

So do these issues manifest in hardboot setups?

Yes.  For softboots, check out Rome and similar bindings with canting options.  There have been versions of these available one way or the other for softboots going back to the 90s.  Homebrew options are doable.

 

So, riding's not biomechanically oblivious, but probably less sensitive to these issues than skiing and more of an open system in terms of variables. Worth playing around with cant a bit though just to see the effect on fore-aft leverage among other things on a softboot setup.

post #13 of 20

Check out the barefoot theory it might help....read Born to Run. 

post #14 of 20

I am not an instructor and I'm sure I don't have the same level of bio-mechanical and anatomical alignment understanding that you guys do.  But I am a 20yr rider and this happens to be one of the things I think about a lot while riding. I believe it mostly boils down to your initial observation:  "I suspect that finding a comfortable stance/highback setup is an effective means of changing equipment to deal with misalignment."  I'd also take it a bit further to suggest that "stance" is not limited to the angle of binding placement but also includes the orientation of the body while riding.  In skiing, you pretty much locked into the fact that your feet through hips don't like to point anywhere but forward.  In snowboarding you have a much greater ability to change your body's angle of approach.  This can vary from a nearly forward approach, to parallel, to even switch all at the same binding angle.  As a result you can compensate for anatomical misalignment through simple adjustments of the whole body.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

Right. Where I am tying to go with this is go from specific anatomical problem to specific riding performance impact to specific stance adjustment.to improve riding performance,

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post
 

Right. Where I am tying to go with this is go from specific anatomical problem to specific riding performance impact to specific stance adjustment.to improve riding performance,

 

Using the knock-kneed example, try duct tape to build cant and see the effect on fore-aft leverage. 

 

The same is true for getting added pop from rockered boards. 

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 

Just putting this out for discussion ... I don't know if this is correct.

 

I would think that knock kneed would move pressure transmission slightly to the center of the board increasing the flex of the board. It should not affect lateral (toe/heel) transmission of pressure which would effect heel-toe or toe-heel movements. An overflexed board would have less edge hold on hard snow (and would lose float in soft snow?). My thinking is that unless the degree of knock kneed ness is severe, that the impact on riding would normally be negligible compared to stance width and board flex variation. But there could certainly be situations where a small adjustment would be desirable.

 

In addition to canting as a possible adjustment, a small stance width adjustment on a Burton channel type binding set up might be an alternative. Also (for conventional bindings), it is conceivable that the rider has adopted a too wide stance width to accommodate this issue and a combination of reducing stance width and canting might be a better solution. Other considerations could include changing to a stiffer board or reducing weight (e.g. losing a backpack) or adding weight to help reduce the effect of going one set of holes wider.

post #18 of 20

Being knock-kneed inhibits your ability to ride the board from tip-to-tail, thereby decreasing your effective edge.  You can get away with it on beginner or intermediate terrain; however, when you take it to steeps or bumps you will notice washing of the tail and more skidding than a skilled rider with proficient knee (and whole body) alignment would produce. 

 

This is why Met described he had to learn to "bow his rear leg" on steeps. 

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelwma View Post
 

Being knock-kneed inhibits your ability to ride the board from tip-to-tail, thereby decreasing your effective edge.  You can get away with it on beginner or intermediate terrain; however, when you take it to steeps or bumps you will notice washing of the tail and more skidding than a skilled rider with proficient knee (and whole body) alignment would produce. 

 

This is why Met described he had to learn to "bow his rear leg" on steeps. 

This is one of those things that can be adjusted for via stance and body angle.  A more forward stance can shift a knock-kneed misalignment to the point that it disappears.  In fact an aggressive stance may even be more comfortable for a knock-kneed person than for a 'normal' person.

post #20 of 20

Late addition! I believe that anatomical alignment to the deck will specifically change the way the board touches the snow. Therein it will affect performance.

The impact of pronate /supinate tendencies would affect the alignment of the ankle joint and thereby your ability to flex or extend with ease or difficulty. Further as you wrench your boots flat to the deck through the bindings the outer or inner pressure from your whacked out foot tendencies would affect the boards contact points along its length.

Changes to boot alignment could also be advantageous if we consider the ability or inability to flex or extend the ankle joint in opposition. If one has a limited ability in plantar flexion, fine movements of the ankle to tip the board may be replaced with more coarse movements of the kneee. Of course the same could be true of dorsiflexion.

If we consider the consideration of ankle usage in snowboarding, any inconsistency in the accurate, exact matching of pressure to the deck would change our outcome. Exactly as it does on skis! The ramifications on two sticks seem more dramatic due to the impact on edging. People often have whacky things that cause variance to sit both skis flat on the snow when flexing, thus edging is not even foot-to-foot. Yuck! However in the skier realm, we also consider fore/aft balancing when bootfitting. The realm that affects the snowboard more directly relative to the "often" found pronation / supination or lateral alignment of the shin/knee in people is fore-aft. It would be compounded considerably if the "norm" for people was to have one leg be significantly longer than the other. Then fore-aft balancing would require significant disuniformity in movement patterns.

In my opinion, we seek through boot alignment to make body movements as "uniform from neutral" as possible to create predictable outcomes from similar application of forces on opposing axes. We do this to minimize crazy twists or contortions that otherwise would be needed to produce exactness in accuracy from the equipment. It may be very true we are less concerned with exact accuracy in  fore-aft balance on a board than we are with edging on skis. The "likely" truth that people have a dramatic variety of abilities relative to dorsi and plantar flexion is only of major importance to edging when the ankle becomes relevant to our riding. If there is a possible boot fit solution in some cases, we as instructors generally resort to using a bigger lever. In reality, it seems to me, most instructors do not teach their students to build turns from the ground up, but rather resort immediately to the hip and knee to initiate a turn. In this case the plantar/ dorsiflexion becomes moot as the tremendous forces applied to leverage to boot bypass the subtleties of finely tuned ankle movements. Edging is course, schmeared and inexact. Many experienced snowboard coaches consider this ok or even good. I seldom see experienced ski coaches rank coarse, inexact edging as a forgiven performance on skis.

A final thought is, as previously mentioned, comfort is of consideration. If we hurt when we make a specific move, we are more likely to move in a different pattern that is less painful. The chosen move may result in less accuracy balancing the cm over the effective edge thereby specifically inhibiting the result the rider may have been seeking.

In response to all these considerations, I ride custom footbeds (instaprint) in my soft boots. These address distribution of my weight across my entire foot laterally and fore-aft and my painful problem with Morton's Neuroma in my right foot. I also ride canted bindings (Catek Freeride) to relieve pressure that hurts my knees by anatomically aligning my ankles to my femur through my knees when strapped in.

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