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Stretching - Skiing vs Gymnastics

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I was wondering if anyone can help me on an issue i've been trying to work out.


I've been a ski instructor for the last 5 years and more recently training for my euro test and higher levels. Although this season, due to various factors i've had to take a break from instructing and instead going skiing purely for my own enjoyment. I fully intend to get back into it though and also do some Level 3 NZSIA training this summer. During this break though i'm getting back into gymnasts training full-time and circus performing (random I know). This as you might imagine requires a lot of flexibility, including splits and various other leg contortions.


My question is, will extreme flexibility affect my ability to ski race, or increase the likely hood of injury? Do ski racers stretch to a high level?


I've never been injured, and I somewhat believe this has been down to fact that my legs are solid and not at all that flexible. Whenever I have crashed, it's always been my upper body thats taken the beating and my legs just seem to stay locked up. I do a lot of sprinting too, which might of helped strengthen them. Ever since i've started stretching for gymnastics again, my spring speeds have dropped off and worried that will effect my skiing too.


I know I can't have the best of both worlds, but would be nice to find a good balance between the two sports I love.




post #2 of 6
I think you can have the best of both especially w dynamic stretching. What many perceive as a 'tightness' or loss of range is really a motor control problem with controlling eccentric range. Particularly at the hips, getting further into range will only benefit dynamic skiing.
post #3 of 6
Originally Posted by iriponsnow View Post

I think you can have the best of both especially w dynamic stretching. What many perceive as a 'tightness' or loss of range is really a motor control problem with controlling eccentric range. Particularly at the hips, getting further into range will only benefit dynamic skiing.

I think this is spot on. IMHO, Ted Ligety's range of motion is what sets him apart from the pack in GS.
post #4 of 6
My daughter did both. It probably saved her from injury ski racing. Most of her cohorts dropped out due to injury. But she had years of regular stretching from gymnastics. At 26, she still sits on the floor in a split to study.
post #5 of 6
So let's put this in practical terms that most people can understand and apply: if you were to lay a skier down on the back and range the hips most skiers would be able to bring their knees up to their chest. There are some outliers, these are the folks have lots of arthritis or some degenerative disease.

Most people when on their backs, can bring their heels all the way up to their butt.

Now, get into your athletic stance you would assume while you're skiing and try and lower your butt all the way down to your heels. More than likely you're not going to be able to do this and it's not going to be a range of motion problem. Rather, it's an issue with the graded control of lowering the muscles as they lengthen to allow your body to assume the position of but over heels.

More often than not, most people will tell you when you're trying to attempt is that there's a level of tightness. You may even feel that it's tight or sore or that the muscle is just not pliable. What you're really feeling is that you're not able to eccentricly lengthen the muscle to get into that position.

If you do nothing else for yourself, this is a great exercise try everyday. For an added benefit; place your hands above your head and try and maintain eyes on the horizon.tongue.gif
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Sorry for the slow reply. Thanks for the information, and I think it kind of puts it in context. Especially having range of movement in the hips and stance. I totally see that with Ligety.


Really interested what you said about your daughter sibhusky, thanks. I've never known anyone who's done both actively at the same time, so thats great to hear. Especially from an injury point of view, because I have been slightly worried about mixing my two sports.


It would be good to find some research on the strength and power side too, if stretching at extreme lengths will hinder certain types of athletes. For example I can't imagine Usain Bolt doing box splits, but if he was to train for that particular movement, would it hinder his capability to run as fast as he does?


We tend not to instruct the traditional warmup now in skiing. You still see Europeans at the bottom of the piste doing their static stretches, but this has been found to increase injury. It's far better to warmup by walking about and then dynamic stretches that get the joints mobilised too. So certain types of stretches do have a slight effect on the athlete.


On a slightly different subject though, a friend was talking about an ex-gymnast without any skiing experience, went from from wedge to insane free-skiing ability within a year. I imagine his body awareness helped a lot and also the ability to put fear to one side. I had the same experience when I learnt to ski. I went from basic wedge to skiing diamonds within a few weeks and to level 2 NZSIA within 12 weeks. Then ever since my legs have been totally un-flexible, but as a ski instructor you don't get much time to stretch from mountain to the bar.


Thanks everyone for the information. I'm going to go into my seasons with a better outlook.

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