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Weak left leg, can't hold an edge

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

My left leg is weaker than my right due to a congenital condition.  The strength and balance in my left leg is lacking compared to my right leg.  I notice when I turn to the right, and I'm on my left inside ski, the ski will often skid sideways, ie. not hold an edge. I'm guessing this is because my left leg is not applying enough pressure to the ski in order to hold the edge--Is that a correct assumption?  I know I need a ski alignment--is it possible an alignment could solve this problem?

 

Finally, I'm wondering if I'd be able to hold an edge better with shorter skis?  Basically, I'm curious if the pressure required to hold an edge increases as ski length increases?  I'm not sure about all of the physics involved.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 26

Your problem could be alignment.  I have to have more information.  Some alignment problems cannot be completely corrected but significant improvements  can usually be made.  What's the congenital problem?  YM 

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

Your problem could be alignment.  I have to have more information.  Some alignment problems cannot be completely corrected but significant improvements  can usually be made.  What's the congenital problem?  YM 

 

Basically, I have decreased sensation/sensitivity/proprioception on the left side of my body. My left leg is also shorter (by 3/8th of an inch, if my memory is correct) vs my right leg--this is a functional difference due to right hip being lower than my left hip.

 

These differences are subtle and result in me not being the most graceful person.  But I wonder to what degree they'd impact my skiing, and that's why I'm asking.

 

Also, I'm moving to Colorado in July and want to get an alignment out there.  If anyone knows of any bootfitters in Colorado who could handle my complex case, I'm all ears.

post #4 of 26

Is the short leg  a true or functional  short leg?  If it is a true short leg, is the shortened part the thigh or lower leg.  All easy things for certain medical professionals to ascertain.  May impact how things are dealt with. Don't know any bootfitters in CO but I know they are around.  YM

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

Is the short leg  a true or functional  short leg?  If it is a true short leg, is the shortened part the thigh or lower leg.  All easy things for certain medical professionals to ascertain.  May impact how things are dealt with. Don't know any bootfitters in CO but I know they are around.  YM

 

 

Functional.

post #6 of 26

A functional short leg is one that measures normal but appears short on certain types of leg checks.  A functional short leg is do to pelvic torsion.  Have you seen a chiropractor?  

post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

A functional short leg is one that measures normal but appears short on certain types of leg checks.  A functional short leg is do to pelvic torsion.  Have you seen a chiropractor?  

 

Yeah, I have seen a chriopractor.  I doubt the difficulties I've dealt with will be fixed by a chiropractor.  I'm not asking for medical advice here--I'm asking for advice relating to my skiing.

post #8 of 26

We need to back up because YM missed some critical information in your first post that needs to be cleared up.  

 

"I notice when I turn to the right, and I'm on my left inside ski, the ski will often skid sideways, ie. not hold an edge."

 

When you turn to the right, your left leg becomes your outside ski, not inside.  So the question is, does your left foot skid sideways when turning right(outside ski) or left(inside ski)?

 

My left leg is about 20-25% weaker than my right due to rupturing my left Achilles tendon in 2009 and having a butcher do the first surgery which then necessitated three additional surgical procedures over the course of about 10 months.  There is so much scar tissue the tendon cannot work correctly and my left calf is noticeably smaller than my right.  The only time I notice the weakness now when skiing is on really hard snow and I just have to angulate a bit more to set the edges harder.  I've also sort of taught myself to be more two-footed with making right turns on hard snow.  I never notice the weakness when I'm on soft snow or in powder.  I also have a functional leg length difference but can't remember which is longer, but I think the right is longer.  When I used to wear tailored suits to work one pants leg was always about 1/2" longer.

 

Brent Amsbury from Park City, UT aligned my boots to my lower legs and made custom footbeds for me in 2011.  That made a big difference in my skiing.

post #9 of 26

Hello again, Understood, I wasn't trying to give medical advice.  Just trying to understand your problem. You mentioned a functional short leg.   I guess I would have to watch your legs work and watch you ski.  There are so many potential issues.  Do your knees track straight ahead when you flex your knees?   Is one leg really weaker or does it function like it weaker because of a functional  problem?  Does one foot pronate more than the other?  Do you have a varus forefoot? 

post #10 of 26

When you get to Colorado talk to locals and find a great boot fitter. Three I have worked with are Le Feet Lab Winter Park, SBF Inc (Ski Boot Fitting) Vail, and Bio Stance (http://biostance.com), they have several outlets. I'm sure there are several great boot fitters in Denver but these are the only ones I know in Colorado.

Bio Stance makes a business of correctly fitting your stance on the ski.

Regardless of where you go talk to them about lifters or plates. A lift makes it easier to edge the ski, see chapter 8 in LeMaster's "Ultimate Skiing". If your left leg is weaker this may be a solution but only the boot fitter/stance tech will be able to tell for sure and make the proper recommendation.

Hope this helps.

post #11 of 26

Not sure why people are advising you to have boot work done without seeing you ski and looking at your alignment.  Seems more likely to me that the decreased proprioception is more likely the problem than an alignment issue.Holding an edge requires subtle shifting of balance and pressure as the turn progresses. Without proprioception your brain doesn't know where your leg and foot are and so can't accurately adjust balance and pressure. Just weakness and lack of pressure are less likely the problem--you can skid out even with plenty of pressure if your balance and weight distribution is off. I'd suggest a lesson with someone who can see what you're doing wrong. The trick will be to find physical cues involving your upper body and arms to encourage your leg to do the right things--the usual advice about shifting weight side to side and fore and aft may not work if your leg can't feel properly. Doesn't sound like a problem that can be solved on the internet. 

 

Most people feel that longer skis hold an edge better. But stiffness and tune is more important than length.

 

BTW a lot of people turn better to one side than to the other. Ever try to throw a ball with your non-dominant arm or kick a soccer ball with your off foot? (I banged up my right shoulder and was at the dog park throwing a ball left handed. People were looking at me real funny.) 

post #12 of 26
It is easier to hold an edge on shorter skis. That I believe is one of the reason why SL skis are shorter. If everything else is equal, the shorter ski will be easier to manipulate, BUT may not perform the way you like in certain conditions/circumstances (i.e. At speed, powder etc).

I don't think weakness is your issue. I read your posts in Ask the Boot Guys and believe you need to get your alignment and shims fixed before you do anything else. I have a slight alignment issue. My daughter has what I think is severe alignment issues from scoliosis in her back; 3 deg shim/can't on one side and a 1.75 on the other. With both of us, it is noticeable in our skiing with regards to edge hold without the shims.

Also with regards to weakness, you should. Insider that some folks can easily ski on one ski to include carving. This means that one leg is doing twice the work. You could also equate that to skiing on one leg is like having 1/2 the strength. Still folks can do this. This past season I made three top to bottom runs on one ski only resting on the lift (dumb idea). My leg was exhausted by the end of the third run. Does your left leg get tired noticeable before the right when skiing? When your edge slips, does your left leg feel like a noodle or does it just slip out from under you, almost a surprise?

After your boots are fixed, you might need to relearn a couple things. I would also make a slight wager that boot alignment alone isn't going to fix your one edge slipping out. If you're entire left side has this issue, my "guess" is you are tipping or banking when making right turns since your upper body on the left side isn't as strong either. This is one of the most common causes to loosing an edge.

If after the boots are fixed and you're still having issues, go to the ski school and explain to them what you've gone through and that you would like some instruction from a senior instructor that is good with movement analysis. Just taking a lesson isn't what you need. You need something specific first.

Have fun,

Ken
post #13 of 26
I just noticed something I your OP. You don't apply pressure to the ski in a turn. Your outside ski manages the forces or pressure of the turn that are brought on by the laws of physics. If you are pressing on your ski, that is part of the problem but only a piece of it.

Your skis should be your base of support that you alternately balance on. The pressure on one ski may increase, but it shouldn't come from you pressing but switching which ski is your primary base of support. On a right turn, that would be your left ski.

When I stand on both feet evenly, the pressure is 50/50. If I gradually lean to one side, the pressure increases on that but not because you are pressing harder. You are changing your base of support and are balancing more weight on that side.

When skiing, it is the same principle, but the base of support moves to the opposite side of your lean while in a turn.
post #14 of 26

When you're having problems a boot fitter will tell you it's the boots/alignment, a ski salesman will tell you it's the skis, and an instructor will tell you it's technique. And people on the internet will tell you anything that comes into their heads, which is usually what they posted for the last 10 people asking a similar question. Just keep that in mind. (And at least the instructor has a chance to see you ski.)

post #15 of 26
And someone will always disagree.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

It is easier to hold an edge on shorter skis.

Have fun,

Ken

Former, 'narrower'

Latter, 'icon14.gif'
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

When you're having problems a boot fitter will tell you it's the boots/alignment, a ski salesman will tell you it's the skis, and an instructor will tell you it's technique. And people on the internet will tell you anything that comes into their heads, which is usually what they posted for the last 10 people asking a similar question. Just keep that in mind. (And at least the instructor has a chance to see you ski.)

BallOney. Give the poor guy good advice, not hyperbole. smile.gif

A good instructor will be in communication with a good fitter. Some fitters will watch their client ski. A good ski salesman knows damn well that while new skis are fun, only a few customers actually 'need' them. Most folks though could use a ski tune.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post


BallOney. Give the poor guy good advice, not hyperbole. smile.gif

A good instructor will be in communication with a good fitter. Some fitters will watch their client ski. A good ski salesman knows damn well that while new skis are fun, only a few customers actually 'need' them. Most folks though could use a ski tune.

I'm giving very good advice. When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. Any of us can walk into a boot shop and have a competent fitter find something wrong with our alignment and stance. Fixing it may fix whatever we think is probably wrong with our skiing, but in most cases won't. We can walk into a ski shop and tell the salesperson that, for example, our skis won't hold and edge, and the salesman, who has never seen us ski, will tell us that such and such a ski will hold an edge better than what we have, which will probably be right and may or may not solve the problem but probably won't. And obviously an  instructor can always find something wrong with our technique, and fixing that may solve our problem--but it definitely won't be right away because it can takes weeks, or months, or even years to correct bad habits and learn new techniques. It is tempting to hope that a new pair of boots or skis or boot and binding work will fix our problem right away. But IMO the place to start is with a lesson--if the instructor feels that all the right movements are being made and the problem is gear related, then you go to the fitter or the ski shop.  So I stand by my advice. I don't see anywhere in either of the op's posts where he says that his problems were analyzed by an instructor. 

post #19 of 26

There's a saying about medical school..."one half of what you learn is wrong, the problem is, you don't know which half".

post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

There's a saying about medical school..."one half of what you learn is wrong, the problem is, you don't know which half".

Not only that, but which half changes about every firve years. Seriously--there was a scholarly article published  explaining why, which I won't bore you (any more)  with. 

 

and what I said about skiing applies to medicine--the diagnosis you get depends on what specialist you get. Common scenarios are leg pain--blood vessel problem if you see a vascular surgeon, pinched nerve if you see a neurosurgeon, or one that was recently on TGR--hernia if you see a general surgeon, hip problem if you see an orthopedist.  

post #21 of 26
OP, yes I can see your not able to apply the correct pressure to the inside edge of your left ski in a right turn.

Like others have said and I think you know you need to see a great boot fitter. They can at least get you balanced. May be some cantering will be needed, that's why you want to find a great boot fitter

FWIW, levy1 had a picture of his feet a few weeks back, check out his thread further down the list. I don't remember where he skis but if they can help him you should be no problem.

found it,
http://www.epicski.com/t/127545/props-to-the-boot-dr-telluride-bob-gleason-alignment-canting-foot-beds-you-are-the-master


I have not checked out your thread in the other forum, but that's the place to start.

Good Luck.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

I'm giving very good advice. When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. Any of us can walk into a boot shop and have a competent fitter find something wrong with our alignment and stance. Fixing it may fix whatever we think is probably wrong with our skiing, but in most cases won't. We can walk into a ski shop and tell the salesperson that, for example, our skis won't hold and edge, and the salesman, who has never seen us ski, will tell us that such and such a ski will hold an edge better than what we have, which will probably be right and may or may not solve the problem but probably won't. And obviously an  instructor can always find something wrong with our technique, and fixing that may solve our problem--but it definitely won't be right away because it can takes weeks, or months, or even years to correct bad habits and learn new techniques. It is tempting to hope that a new pair of boots or skis or boot and binding work will fix our problem right away. But IMO the place to start is with a lesson--if the instructor feels that all the right movements are being made and the problem is gear related, then you go to the fitter or the ski shop.  So I stand by my advice. I don't see anywhere in either of the op's posts where he says that his problems were analyzed by an instructor. 

 

The OP's alignment issues aren't made up and are explained somewhat in this thread http://www.epicski.com/t/127502/is-my-leg-length-discrepancy-causing-my-ski-challenges#post_1723880

 

If an instructor works with someone to correct something that should be taken care of in the boot shop, once it is taken care of, the instructor will then have to replace that with proper technique or at least better/different technique.  It's a great business model but expensive for the student.

 

I'm not sure the value of someone that knows how to ski, taking more lessons when at least part of the problem is caused by something lessons can't fix.  The best you can hope for out of that is how to compensate or if the instructor understand movement analysis and alignment well enough, somewhere in there feedback that is something to the effect of, "you need to get boot work done."

 

One of the top complaints of instructors is most of the students are in crappy rental gear that doesn't fit right and boots too big (if their own).  You are limiting yourself and the level of instruction.  Before I got my shim, the only way I could get on my inside edge was to roll my right knee inboard.  How is skiing in an A frame better?  A simple shim made a huge difference.

 

With 3/8" leg length discrepancy, how can there not be an alignment issue?  Once the boots are aligned, he should get lessons because all the boot alignment is going to do is rule out the need for a boot alignment. 

 

Good alignment allows you to ski better.  It doesn't make you ski better.  Bad alignment does the opposite.

post #23 of 26

I was involved with a race program in the 90's.  We had a pair of slalom skis with demo bindings and 3 degree plastic cants mounted under the bindings.  We could place most any body on those skis and see how their skiing changed by changing their cant.  We could under or over cant the skier by switching the skis on their feet.  They could put on just one of the canted skis and use their own ski on the other foot if we were only concerned about one side.  It was a very informative experiment.  Most skiers would adapt the  change in  alignment in just a few minutes.  Anyone who has not experimented with skiing over and under canted has missed a great opportunity for learning.  "As with most boot adjustments, you won't know the right amount until you've tried both too little and too much."  Ron Le Master          YM 

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman View Post
 

I was involved with a race program in the 90's.  We had a pair of slalom skis with demo bindings and 3 degree plastic cants mounted under the bindings.  We could place most any body on those skis and see how their skiing changed by changing their cant.  We could under or over cant the skier by switching the skis on their feet.  They could put on just one of the canted skis and use their own ski on the other foot if we were only concerned about one side.  It was a very informative experiment.  Most skiers would adapt the  change in  alignment in just a few minutes.  Anyone who has not experimented with skiing over and under canted has missed a great opportunity for learning.  "As with most boot adjustments, you won't know the right amount until you've tried both too little and too much."  Ron Le Master          YM 

 

Very cool idea.

post #25 of 26

I have a right leg that is almost 3/8' shorter than my left and a bit weaker.  My discrepancy stems from a shattered femur at 26 followed by a sublexed right knee at 36.  When I sublexed the knee, I completely tore out all of the ligaments, damaged both meniscus, and badly bruised the bone ends.  I still have some problems with my right leg at 50.  I find that the more I use it, the better it feels.  I looked into fixing the leg length issue and decided that because the issue is in femur shaft length, that it wouldn't really be easy.  I ski at a pretty high level and most people wouldn't even know that I have "problems".

 

My advice is to get your alignment checked and go ski.  I don't think that most skiing requires a lot of strength.  Most of the forces are external and you manage them rather than directly generate them.  Managing force is easier when you are aligned properly.  The more you ski, the better you will get at working with what you have.  I laugh, mostly silently, at people who obsess over micro adjustments.  I think most people really just need to ski more and worry about equipment less.  That being said, I use very good equipment, ski well over 100 days a season, and usually participate in a lot of training sessions all of which I mostly don't have to pay for.

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post
 

  My discrepancy stems from a shattered femur at 26 followed by a sublexed right knee at 36.  When I sublexed the knee, I completely tore out all of the ligaments, damaged both meniscus, and badly bruised the bone ends.  I still have some problems with my right leg at 50

No kidding?

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