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Fore/Aft alignment, lateral instability, a "girl thing"?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
So I taught my SkiReady class today at a women's gym where I teach.
Now granted, the latest threads about fore/aft alignment, teaching men and women, boot paradigm for women, angulate/edge, gave me some pre conceived ideas of what I was looking for.

But consider this: In exercises involving fore/aft balance and alignment, as well as lateral stability, WHOAA NELLIE, both female skiers and snowboarders had some serious challenges.

Keep in mind, I am definitely not talking about flexibility, here. Most of these girls were pretty flexible. Some of them actually had descent postural alignment in a static position. But dynamic, stability challenged lateral and front back movement caused problems.

Is this a female specific problem. In my co-ed classes, I notice that lateral stability, such as doing side bends off a Stability Ball, is NOT a gender specific challenge.

If you do notice it more in women than men, what anatomical factors do you attribute it to?
post #2 of 20

My observations do not indicate gender bias as to lateral or fore/aft stability. What does influence stability is leg bone alignment, ie, bow-legged or knock-kneed. My wife is 2 deg medial on both legs, I am 2 deg medial left and 1 1/2 deg medial right.

Fore/aft stability is largely unknown. Some of the influences are boot design and stance. So these are pretty gender bias free.

It is my assumption that the stability problems are individually unique. In other words, this is a wordy, "I dunno!"
post #3 of 20
How do you feel the dreaded Q angle issue affects dynamic balance?? As you know in men the Q angle is usually 10 degrees in men, but 15 degrees in women.
Also, for some years it became fashionable to put heel lifts in women's boots, to compensate for their lower center of mass.
Don't know how these affect dynamic balance, but they are obvious gender differences.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
The Q angle affects knee alignment, which would in turn affect dynamic balance. There are probably other details that a ski instructor could comment on. The heel lift thing was mentioned in a few other threads. I, personally did not benefit much from them. I think a good deal of this stuff is still uncharted territory. So Rick, I dunno is a perfectly acceptable answer!
post #5 of 20
Some claim that womens' achilles are shorter or less flexible (mine's awful but I know why). That would affect fore-aft balance...as you flex forward, your heels start to want to lift.

Is there any difference in childhood sport participation in your ladies vs the men? That might account for it too. Or play habits...
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Eureka! Short achilles! Why didn't I think of that? Its not because of a girl's childhood sport.

It has to do with a different sort of "sport" from her single days.
Wearing ridiculously high heeled shoes!

Guilty as charged!
post #7 of 20

Out of curiosity, what kinds of exercises do you use to specifically test fore/aft balance and alignment as well as lateral stability?

Do you think it's just a matter of anatomy or is it, in general, that women are less likely to develop/practice these skills growing up? Less touch football, less soccer, etc?

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
The most challenging of the fore aft exercises is balancing on one foot, transfering your weight back and forth from the toe to the heel. Disasterous! Even a group of fitness instructors {myself included} had trouble with it.

My favorite lateral stability envolves doing side bends over a stabiliy ball. I'm actually pretty good at it. My students, especially the women, usually manage to get completely out of alignment.
post #9 of 20
try it with your eyes closed. [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #10 of 20
Some facktoids about womens alignment. Fore aft or lateral, It is all about range of motion. find the middle ground and work from there.

Women often have shorter achelis tendons. Not all, another common situation in women is not that the achelis is short but rather that the muscle fiber conects to the tendon lower on it. the fiber also gets much more dense lower and gets larger faster than men.

Compare this with men. In men the achelis may seem longer because it goes much farther up the back of the leg before the muscle fiber begins to show. The muscle itself stays thin and balls up dramaticly at the top of the calf. By the way this ball is usualy above the top of the boot.

In women lets say 70% of the calf muscle is inside the boot. in men lets say 30% of the calf muscle is inside the boot.

What does this mean if you could measure the thickness of muscle between the shell of the boot and the tib-fib.

In men this may measure 3/4 of an inch
in Women there may be 1.5 inches often more

what this means is that the angle of the tib-fib in relation to the foot structure will be flexed much more than men might be. THis will also use up some of the available range of motion of the ankle joint.

Conclusion in fore aft. women tend to be over flexed in the ankle and also have short tendons the combination of these two seporate variables end up to be a very usual problem with women and women specific boots

Cure. heel lifts can help but not always.
Sometimes cutting the top of the cuff down to allow some of the calf out of the boot. And the leg to stand streighter out of the boot.

The best solution write letters to your congressman to get boot manufactures to make a "real" Women specific boot.

Don't tell boot companies that I said this please
Get it?
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Zeek, many people, including myself, can barely do that with their eyes OPEN!
Mosh, according to the guy who did my footbeds, most athletic shoes are poorly made and non functional, especially women's footwear. Does not surprise me that we have the same problem with ski boots.
post #12 of 20
when moving from heel to toe on one foot, is one supposed to wear shoes?
I found it more diffucult without shoes.
post #13 of 20
Wow zeek, your're right, it was very easy for me with my eye's open but closed, I completely lost it. That's in street shoes, which are pretty stable.

LisaMarie, what do you do w/ your other foot, just lift it slightly? Any other's like this? It'd be nice to have some simple balance excercises to do at the office..
post #14 of 20
Here is what I sometimes do to "train" for balance. Bonus: I get endurance training at the same time.

Stairmaster (15-30 minutes). But here is the catch:

1. Do it without holding on to anything (link you hands behind you or something). Make sure that you use the entire foot sole, not just the ball of your feet and feel the flex in the ankle (for-aft and sideways) to maintain balance.

2. Do it with your eyes closed (no holding of course). Concentrate on your ankles to balance.

3. Do it with your eyes closed while moving your head up-down and left-right. Move your head slowly or your will lose your balance. Always be ready to grab the handles if you start to fall.

Do not go to fast on the stairs, but have full range of motion (no silly little steps allowed). Bye the way, you can do this on an elliptical machine as well, but there you don't get sufficient range of motion to truly flex your ankles.

I think this is a better exercise than the static one-legged stand and roll.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just keep it lifted, a few inches behind the standing leg.
It is INFINITELY harder without shoes. But you can really tell what's going on in your feet. Check for clenched toes, which are a common problem. This can make your base of support way too narrow, totally fouling up your balance.
A simple fore/aft balance exercise, is to ride a subway without holding on. Be careful, though.

Try this. Come to a tuck position, and transfer your weight back and forth between your heels and toes. I'll post more as I think of them.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Sometimes people have trouble staying foward because of a weak tibialis anterior. Here's a good strengthening exercise:
Put 2 cans of soup in a plastic bag. Sit on the edge of your bed, placing the bag over your toes. Without moving your leg, flex your foot, so that the toes curl towards the shin. Do about 10 reps a day.
post #17 of 20
Hi Lisamarie,

Well I read all the posts and if you are able to differentiate between center of mass and center of gravity, or the effects of gravity on center of mass, I think you will agree that the center of mass and relative location of same are different for men and women. This creates different balance considerations. If over the eons of time it may account for diffenrces in tendon lengths etc.Remember, humankind wasn't always as upright in stance as we are now.

So there are the physiological differences that I beleive definitely are factors that create unique differences when it comes to balance and achieving same for men and women.

But you already know this, right ?
post #18 of 20
Mosh is right. Women have a larger, lower calf muscle, hence the need for boots with a lower cuff. And the ski designers tell us that our centre of gravity is lower, and further back.
And tottering about in high heels does sad bad things to your achilles! I grew up in bare feet and so ran around tip-toe, my achilles is a joke.
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
So I taught the same workshop today for a coed group. The men were a little bit better at fore/aft exercises, but everybody had a good deal of trouble with lateral stability.
post #20 of 20
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by wink:
... if you are able to differentiate between center of mass and center of gravity ...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Heads up! Incoming physics / terminology lesson!

The center of gravity (CG) and the center of mass (CM) of ALL objects are located at exactly the same point except in regions of rapidly varying gravitational fields (eg, like near a black hole).

No skier, and only a few very sophisticated experiments could ever discern a difference in the location of the two for objects acted on by the earth's gravity.

Thus, in colloquial usage, it really doesn't matter which one of these terms you use, altho its probably better to stick with one or the other, so as not to confuse the reader

Tom / PM

PS - Sorry ... I see a physics term used in a post, and the old teaching reflex just kicks in. I just can't stop myself.
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