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What Should our FEET FEEL?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

YM and others: I am not starting a new thread on this topic because of that Discussion Starter badge.  I simply can't avoid thinking about yogaman's quote below posted in another thread.

 

Quote: Originally Posted by yogaman

 

It's so much about managing the pressure. What the terrain does to us through out the turn and the transition whether the terrain falling away or rising, whether one foots in a rut while the other is on a high spot, whether the terrain falls away quickly or we are transitioning onto flatter terrain impacts how much either leg has to flex or extend to do it's job. The outside leg being long and the inside leg being short while turning ...yes, but how much??? We release the pressure to switch edges and we use the pressure to bend the ski. How much extension does it take to maintain ski snow contact? Whether we are skiing bumps or training slalom with deep ruts. How much flexion does it take to get big angles? How much retraction does it take to release the pressure? How much do we absorb the virtual bump with flexion or how much do we have to extend to maintain snow contact because we didn't absorb the virtual bump. I think we can only answer these questions as we watch a turn and understand what is happening and whether or not we believe the skier responded ideally or not to the demands of each turn. It's what I like best about gate training. In free skiing we are usually free to manage each turn or let each turn manage us without paying a penalty. It's different in the gates where the turn needs to be initiated and completed in relative specific areas in order to make the next gate and complete the course. YM

 

As I have stated I teach beginners and intermediates.  For beginners I start with gross upper body positions (keep your hands in sight in your goggles) and lower body movements (stand like this in a pizza/wedge), to starting intermediates (touch your downhill knee raise your uphill shoulder, tip your knees uphill). As the student's skills progress, I transition to teaching from the snow up. And in my personal skiing I try learning from the snow up. I have never raced gates.  So, here goes:

 

WHAT SHOULD OUR FEET FEEL?  

 

Where, when, how and why?

 

My specific question is applicable to beginner, intermediate, expert, advanced, free, carve, skidded, bump, race and other types of skiing.

 

For teaching, what should I tell my students to feel for?

 

In my personal skiing what should I feel for? 

post #2 of 48

Everything:

Is your edge slipping or holding?

Is the snow compressing, crunching, munching, fluidized, hard, rough, what texture do you feel as you go over it, how does the rate of compression of the snow feel, and a host of feelings yet to be put into words.

How well is the edge cutting?

What position are your feet in relative to everything else (proprioception)?

How much force is being transmitted?

How is your ski deforming, at what portion of the ski is the main compression of the snow taking place?

How much bend is going on where in the ski?

How muted are the vibrations in the ski, and what irregularities are you encountering?

How much is your boot deflecting?

How much give is happening in the skis?

How much movement of the foot in the boots?

How much liner compression?

What is the exact direction of force application?

How are the boot ski and snow deforming in response?

What acceleration of the foot, boot and ski are happening?

and,

ETC.

post #3 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
 

Everything:

Is your edge slipping or holding?

Is the snow compressing, crunching, munching, fluidized, hard, rough, what texture do you feel as you go over it, how does the rate of compression of the snow feel, and a host of feelings yet to be put into words.

How well is the edge cutting?

What position are your feet in relative to everything else (proprioception)?

How much force is being transmitted?

How is your ski deforming, at what portion of the ski is the main compression of the snow taking place?

How much bend is going on where in the ski?

How muted are the vibrations in the ski, and what irregularities are you encountering?

How much is your boot deflecting?

How much give is happening in the skis?

How much movement of the foot in the boots?

How much liner compression?

What is the exact direction of force application?

How are the boot ski and snow deforming in response?

What acceleration of the foot, boot and ski are happening?

and,

ETC.

 

I guess that means everything.  And that only comes from experience, exploration, success, failure, good guidance...  YM

post #4 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hodgson View Post
 

 

 

WHAT SHOULD OUR FEET FEEL?  

 

Where, when, how and why?

 

 

New skiers aren't going to understand or be able to differentiate  much about the sensations they are experiencing.  Besides being overwhelmed with new sensations, they are also a little overwhelmed with the emotions of the new challenges.  We ski with our feet.  Balancing begins with the bottoms of the feet and the ankles so bringing new students  attention to their feet   is where I start.   Being able to differentiate and distinguish where on their feet they are balancing, being able to distinguish shin pressure versus  pressure against the back of the boot.   Only by bringing the students attention to what sensations are available can we guide them towards productive movements.   We understand what's going on through sensory input.  By responding to  the input with action is how we ski.  YM 

post #5 of 48

I would emphasize not only the sensations in the foot that occur, but also how to MAKE different sensations come about. Namely, how to manage and manipulate pressure across the sole of the foot, and use it to affect how your skis behave. Utilizing pressure on the little toe and big toe edges of the soles of your feet to manage tipping and pressure during turns. Utilizing both ankle pronation and supination in order to feel pressure in the ball and/or heel of the foot to signal management of fore/aft pressure. 

 

I'd also extend the topic from feet to talking about sensations within your boot as a whole, because sensations from the area of the boot cuff can be just as important as sensations from the feet. Especially when you start talking about how they relate to one another. pressure on the forefoot in the shaping phase of the turn is typically a good thing... but not if it's paired with pressure on the back of the boot cuff. 

post #6 of 48
This is a very interesting read, though perhaps tangential here, for those of us that are geeky, myself included biggrin.gif. Definitely could change the way we view our "base of support"
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311689/#!po=7.18750

zenny
post #7 of 48

The inside of the boot?

post #8 of 48
Thread Starter 

Rich666:  Good question.  How much movement can a foot make and how much feeling can a foot feel inside a relatively rigid plastic shell?  

 

Compare zentune's article:

"Abstract

Anthropological and biomechanical research suggests that the human foot evolved a unique design for propulsion and support. In theory, the arch and toes must play an important role, however, many postural studies tend to focus on the simple hinge action of the ankle joint. To investigate further the role of foot anatomy and sensorimotor control of posture, we quantified the deformation of the foot arch and studied the effects of local perturbations applied to the toes (TOE) or 1st/2nd metatarsals (MT) while standing. . . .

Conclusions

With over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, 26 separate bones, and 33 joints, the foot and specifically the arch likely evolved for a role as specialized as the thumb and fingers did for fine manual control (Rolian et al. 2010). Despite this, many postural studies tend to focus on the simple hinge action of the ankle joint without taking into account the distributive nature of foot deformations. Here, we show that the foot, rather than serving as rigid base of support, is in an active, flexible state and is sensitive to minute perturbations even if the entire hind and midfoot is stably supported and the ankle joint is unperturbed. We also found that perturbing MT affects posture more than perturbing toes. . . ."  *

 

with Tom Gillie's global skiing podcast interview with boot fitter Gary Ward, who among other things discusses pulling the custom footbed out and skiing flat:

 

http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/gary-ward-interview_46994

 

Skiing flat seems too radical for me, but I would still like to hear advice regarding what our feet are supposed to feel skiing when, where, how and why.

 

 

*  Is this why Lange's redesign of its race fit foot went from the narrow toe boxed L10 to the current wider toe box?

post #9 of 48

IMHO, how much support the foot should have inside the boot depends very much on how high the forces are that the foot is going to have to deal with.    Hard turns at high speeds on rough terrain would require more support than slow and easy turns over smooth or softer surfaces.

post #10 of 48
For TEACHING beginners, I ask them to visualize a marshmallow under their big toe. To turn, crush the marshmallow with your big toe. Later I add anothe marshmallow on the shin. Crush both at once to turn. To stop, keep crushing until you turn across and eventually UP the hill.
post #11 of 48

I teach foot awareness to beginners, and Freeski, yes we should try to control, but sometimes just awareness is sufficient and better.  I coach students to focus on the feeling in their feet, weight on the toes, heels, center?  Just feel it, your body will know what to do if you are aware of the outcome.  (By this point I have already taught them that they should try to be on the center of the foot as a home position, certainly not on the heel.)

 

I remember the book Inner Skiing, and he had drills which focused on awareness, don't try to control but just call out in your mind what is happening.

 

Attempts to control things can bring in the chiding, judgmental inner monologue that can hamper awareness.  The more we think "damn, I'm doing this wrong" the more we are interrupted from being in the moment, being in the flow of performance.  Mindfulness (a key Buddhist concept.)

 

In the book Effortless Mastery (a book for jazz musicians, not skiers, but very relevant imo) he stresses that to play well one must not worry about how they sound.  Wow.  After all for playing music how you sound is the most important thing (unlike in skiing where who cares how you look, if you're not taking a Cert exam anyway.)

 

And yet he claims that the more we do things from a place of confidence and awareness, and the less we concern ourselves with how well we are doing - the better we will perform.

 

By the way don't get me wrong, of course there is a time and place for trying to control what we do as well.  In music performance, that's reserved for practicing however.  During performance it's time to just play what we can play with mastery.

 

Analogy to skiing is hard in that case, but in my mind I want to ski at least ½ of the time from that place.

post #12 of 48

Try teaching fantom foot awareness to amputees with prosthetic feet. The knee then becomes the ankle and is now the new nexus of movement in what is a new anatomical chain of movement as once did the departed ankle. It's just that this new chain of movement now goes both up (anatomically) and down (prosthetically). It is amazing what a short stint in teaching skiers with disabilities can teach the teacher about their own skiing. Try leading a visually impaired skier down a slope, discussing their experience on the chair and see what you come away with in terms of a new perspective on your own skiing. Technically cathartic to say the least.

post #13 of 48

  Tim, yeah I think going completely flat footing may be a bit extreme, but I know that feet come in many sizes, shapes, and can vary greatly in regards to flexibility--some will have high arches and a rigid foot, others flat and flexible and I think there can be many combinations therein. Not to mention differences in range of dorsi/plantarflexion motion and also differences in tibial rotation about the stj (primarily). I'm no expert by any means in this but I, and  find it very interesting to consider how the foot must move in order for it to be loaded correctly and for it to transfer load up the chain, and indeed help engage the chain (more specifically posterior) effectively...

 

 I am and have personally experimented with different, pliable, non-custom inserts, and I think I like the feel...

 

   zenny

post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by zentune View Post
 

  Tim, yeah I think going completely flat footing may be a bit extreme, but I know that feet come in many sizes, shapes, and can vary greatly in regards to flexibility--some will have high arches and a rigid foot, others flat and flexible and I think there can be many combinations therein. Not to mention differences in range of dorsi/plantarflexion motion and also differences in tibial rotation about the stj (primarily). I'm no expert by any means in this but I, and  find it very interesting to consider how the foot must move in order for it to be loaded correctly and for it to transfer load up the chain, and indeed help engage the chain (more specifically posterior) effectively...

 

 I am and have personally experimented with different, pliable, non-custom inserts, and I think I like the feel...

 

   zenny

 Zen, I ski a flat footbed in my ski boots and speedskates. It is literally like taking the blind old off your feet and is not as uncomfortable as some may think. It's an acquired taste from which there is no return.

post #15 of 48
Thread Starter 

zentune:  I think that Tom Gellie and I believe also Jonathan or JF or maybe Reilly (all the globalskiing podcast interviews run together in my mind) do their own boot fitting at this time in their careers).  A couple of years ago, I started doing it for my wife and me.  But I am pretty crude about it.  If you have any suggestions for your pliable footbeds, I would like to hear about them.  (BTW, I am a big 12.5-13 flat foot guy in Lange L10 race fits and I currently plan to lower or completely remove the footbed at the toe to create more room in the toe box.)

 

pat:  Thanks for the tip.  Do you eventually go pat's full "Four Marshmallow Progression"  I.e., downhill big toe -> downhill shin -> uphill little toe -> uphill shin?  

 

Rich666:  Closest I've ever come to that is when our Director made us pair up and one ski blind after the sighted instructor. Friggin' scary.  I will look for a chair ride with a sight impaired skier this season.  Speedskates (at least inline) are low cuff and flexible.  Curious what flex you prefer in your ski boots?

 

SMJ:  "Don't try to control but just call out in your mind what is happening."  Added to the Instructor Notes file.  This is a little like my saying "Learning to see is the hardest part of any endeavor."  Best to be in the center of your foot.  Be aware about where the pressure is on the foot at various parts of the turn.  Like YM was saying above.

 

post #16 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hodgson View Post
 

zentune:  I think that Tom Gellie and I believe also Jonathan or JF or maybe Reilly (all the globalskiing podcast interviews run together in my mind) do their own boot fitting at this time in their careers).  A couple of years ago, I started doing it for my wife and me.  But I am pretty crude about it.  If you have any suggestions for your pliable footbeds, I would like to hear about them.  (BTW, I am a big 12.5-13 flat foot guy in Lange L10 race fits and I currently plan to lower or completely remove the footbed at the toe to create more room in the toe box.)

 

Ouch! With feet like that, you have no space for marshmallows. Unless you plan to remove your footbeds and replace them with marshmallows. Get lost in the woods overnight and you are all set.

 

pat:  Thanks for the tip.  Do you eventually go pat's full "Four Marshmallow Progression"  I.e., downhill big toe -> downhill shin -> uphill little toe -> uphill shin?  

 

Remember, crushing marshmallows with toes and shins are for beginners. Upon reaching the expert stage of skiing you graduate to crushing beer cans with your forehead. I have the dents to prove it. 

 

Rich666:  Closest I've ever come to that is when our Director made us pair up and one ski blind after the sighted instructor. Friggin' scary.  I will look for a chair ride with a sight impaired skier this season.  Speedskates (at least inline) are low cuff and flexible.  Curious what flex you prefer in your ski boots?

 

Of course you are going to look for a chair ride with a sight impaired skier. What other option to find each other is there?

 

SMJ:  "Don't try to control but just call out in your mind what is happening."  Added to the Instructor Notes file.  This is a little like my saying "Learning to see is the hardest part of any endeavor."  Best to be in the center of your foot.  Be aware about where the pressure is on the foot at various parts of the turn.  Like YM was saying above.

 

"Don't try to control but just call out in your mind what is happening." This is good advice especially when the aspect of control can be elusive such as: "I'm being chased by a bear, I'm being chased by a bear, I'm being chased by a bear."

 

post #17 of 48
Thread Starter 

Hilarious:  "Of course you are going to look for a chair ride with a sight impaired skier. What other option to find each other is there?"

 

Luckily, I married before my attraction to the opposite sex really took a downturn...

 

Oh and did I tell you that my Lange race fits are size 11?  Yes, frostbite is a problem.  The resulting surgery from a night lost in the woods would definitely free up some room in the toe box.  (Note to self: I need to buy those electric boot heaters...)

 

Seriously dude.  Assuming that the boot is the opposite side of the same coin as to "what your feet should feel."  What type, flex, footbead, etc. do you do to customize your boot so that your feet can feel?


Edited by Tim Hodgson - 10/19/16 at 11:11am
post #18 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post
 

 Zen, I ski a flat footbed in my ski boots and speedskates. It is literally like taking the blind old off your feet and is not as uncomfortable as some may think. It's an acquired taste from which there is no return.

 

I could be wrong but IMO custom moulded foot beads are many times highly overrated. I'm on a pair of pre cut slightly thicker soft foam foot beads in my foam liners to lessen volume, but my favourite ones are the thin hard ones that come standard in Head racing boots. Talked to a WC racer skiing with Head and he said he is using the same.

post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hodgson View Post
 

Hilarious:  "Of course you are going to look for a chair ride with a sight impaired skier. What other option to find each other is there?"

 

Luckily, I married before my attraction to the opposite sex really took a downturn...

 

Oh and did I tell you that my Lange race fits are size 11?  Yes, frostbite is a problem.  The resulting surgery from a night lost in the woods would definitely free up some room in the toe box.  (Note to self: I need to buy those electric boot heaters...)

 

Seriously dude.  Assuming that the boot is the opposite side of the same coin as to "what your feet should feel."  What type, flex, footbead, etc. do you do to customize your boot so that your feet can feel?

 

Tim, the best description I have of going commando (sans footbed) in your ski boot is as follows. The next time you are in the passenger seat of a car, take a frisbee and hold it out against the direct wind bottom faced forward. Contact the frisbee with all five finger tips and the heal of your palm. Notice the quick response to the frisbee as you adjust finger pressure to maintain a vertically and horizontally "balanced" frisbee. Then, put a cushy, thick leather ski glove on and do the same thing. Notice the difference in response. Just about as quick but not as crisp. It's that crisp that is the cream of a responsive feel. It also, from what I understand, makes for a good donut. Which is what I would recommend to fill the space left by the decapitation of your frozen toe instead of marshmallow due to its even higher rate of shelf life. Anyway, as described above, using a thin, flat and firm footbed is like taking the blind fold off your feet. People are so conceptually ingrained about the "custom" footbed, many will never comprehend going commando for anything other than freeballing. Also, albeit quite a departure from that last thought, think "The Princess and the Pea" in terms of finding the "suitable" footbed in regards to what it truly important.

post #20 of 48
Tim, I think for a flat foot that a stock insole would suffice, or at least be worth a try. I have a fairly high arch and somewhat rigid feet, I use a superfoot...for now. The main point of the post is that you want your feet to be able to functionally pronate under load--the met heads will be able to spread a bit, and the posterior chain will be properly engaged because the plantar fascia is attached to the heel, and therefore the Achilles and so on and so forth up the chain. Again I am no expert here that is my understanding of it.

zenny
post #21 of 48

I must admit that I have some coaching boots that have no footbeds per se.  They DO however contain Dr Scholls Jelly insoles.  That's right, jellin like a felon.  Not the best best performance, but GREAT for standing around or working with younger kids.

 

That said, as part of a boot building project, footbeds are an essential performance component of well fitted boots.

post #22 of 48

Not sure what is the difference between insoles and a footbeds?

 

I have tried lots of different footbeds over the years and apart from one thin and crispy pair of custom moulded in ValDisere in 1989, non have served me better than the Formthotics I am using now. They are made in New Zeeland. Great feel, cheap, warm etc. Here:

 

http://www.formthotics.com/products/ski-single-high/

 

T

post #23 of 48

Rich666,

 

The boot-foot interface is all about balancing and absorbing load.  Human feet vary widely in their design ... even when they're attached to the same person.

 

A fraction (high single digit percentage) of feet do well skiing flat.  Yours appear to be among them.  Eric Schlopy was another one (he skied on a modified bootboard with a thin strip of foam inlaid on the medial side's top and no footbed)  That's great for you. 

 

But the great majority of people balance and absorb load better with a footbed crafted to enhance their feet's mechanical function inside the confines of a ski boot.  For a solid majority, skiing ability improves markedly when using a properly crafted footbed. 

 

Granted, not all purveyors of "custom" footbeds achieve this outcome, but that's a case of buyer beware rather than an indictment of custom footbeds.

post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
 

 

I could be wrong but IMO custom moulded foot beads are many times highly overrated. I'm on a pair of pre cut slightly thicker soft foam foot beads in my foam liners to lessen volume, but my favourite ones are the thin hard ones that come standard in Head racing boots. Talked to a WC racer skiing with Head and he said he is using the same.

I have 2 very different feet and lower legs,  frustrating.   My right side I can ski with or without custom footbed, makes little difference.  On my left side I need correction.  With out the correction my right turns suffer.  With good correction,  I'm much better.  Knew I had a problem at ten years old making right turns, just took awhile (30 years) to identify the problem.  I know 2 very very good skiers with ridged flat feet.   It's my guess that too much movement in the ankle and feet (excessive pronation, excessive forefoot  and  excessive motion in the ankle), lessons our ability to balance and decreases our power, at least that's what I feel on my weak side.  A footbed which provides correction when necessary is invaluable.  A footbed that fails to correct faults when present is useless.  For someone with great foot/ ankle function footbeds may be completely unnecessary.  Creating a footbed that provides the proper correction when necessary is one part science and one part magic with a dash of luck thrown in.   YM

post #25 of 48
SE has a good point here, and from my understanding many/most are on poorly crafted footbeds....in my view that means that they don't allow for at least *some pronation, arch is built too high, footbed overly rigid, etc. I agree that totally flat in the boot is definitely going to be an exception, not a rule. I know that my own customs are too supportaive of my arch, and I have been experimenting...

zenny
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post
 

Rich666,

 

The boot-foot interface is all about balancing and absorbing load.  Human feet vary widely in their design ... even when they're attached to the same person.

 

A fraction (high single digit percentage) of feet do well skiing flat.  Yours appear to be among them.  Eric Schlopy was another one (he skied on a modified bootboard with a thin strip of foam inlaid on the medial side's top and no footbed)  That's great for you. 

 

But the great majority of people balance and absorb load better with a footbed crafted to enhance their feet's mechanical function inside the confines of a ski boot.  For a solid majority, skiing ability improves markedly when using a properly crafted footbed. 

 

Granted, not all purveyors of "custom" footbeds achieve this outcome, but that's a case of buyer beware rather than an indictment of custom footbeds.

 

I agree, however, with a few caveats. One is a question regarding how can one truly find out whether going flat is something that will work without trying it. It is the lacking propensity to try this that will always be the first major deficit in this idea's proliferation. The second caveat is that this idea goes head to head with a highly entrenched bootfitter philosophy housed within an industrial level of retail sports equipment establishment, if you will. Not to mention the sales power of something touting warmth, comfort and performance all in one product for under $150 in a discretionary spending rich consumer market. So While I do feel lucky that this works for me, I feel even luckier that I tried it in the first place.

post #27 of 48

I have been in a variety of boots with different foot beds and insoles, including leather lace-ups, leather with fibreglass sides and buckles, sloppy rentals, softer custom plastic insoles and custom foamed with highly-posted stiff Superfeet kork footbeds.  My favourites are the kork ones, except that my heels sometimes get a little sore after landing too much air on hard surfaces during a day when I do a lot of jumps.  Yes, I know what I'm missing, having tried it, still prefer the custom footbeds, but that's MY FEET.   YOUR FEET are different.

post #28 of 48

If one has endured plantar fasciitis during the green season and lived to tell the story, then a non-flat footbed inside the boot is going to be a very good idea.

The arch support in that footbed will minimize the irritation that happens to the fascia on the bottom of the foot.  Aging feet (darn!) tend to get this annoying "itis."

 

And then of course there's the Morton's Neuroma thing.  If you've dealt with that, you really really need a custom-made footbed to address the neuroma.  

The bootfitter can shape it so that it will indeed remedy the phenomenon of feeling like the foot is burning and on fire while skiing, leading one to desperately

remove the boot in the middle of the trail for relief.  Getting it back on -- not pleasant.

post #29 of 48
Definitely not a one size fits all thing at all LF smile.gif I just found that link I posted was tangentially interesting, in regards to what the "feet feel"...I suppose my answer would be well, it depends on these and other (ski related) factors.. Apparently runners are realizing the same things, or have been for a while (I'm a hiker, not a runner smile.gif )

zenny
post #30 of 48

Most people have weak and/or messed up feet because they have been wearing shoes that are tight, have raised heel and arch support most of their lives.

These people need some kind of support also in ski boots. If you have strong neutral feet the need is less.

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