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use of hips in short radius turns

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
If I am making short radius turns - for example - in bumps, crud or trees - i find myself using only the lower part of my legs ( knee downwards). this can
sometimes get to be painful.

should i be attempting to use my hips in these situations.

thanks
post #2 of 17
Marty,

A good instructor won't say what exactly you should do until they actually see you ski. This is so we can see where where your turning movements are coming from. You feel the turns in your lower legs, we need to see exactly where they are coming from.

That said, in general, you should be using your femur ball/hip joint. The legs should rotate from the hips down. Bob Barnes has some good examples of this in this post: (Thank you Mr. Barnes )

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=8762

In the "Slow Line Fast" note how the legs pivot from the hip joints down. There is a slight following of the hip through the turn, but not much. The feet and legs do the work.

In "Pivot Slips" note how the hips remain almost perfectly fixed. The skiier comes straight down the fall line. The only things really moving are the feet and legs from the hip ball joint down. In a well executed pivot slip you will feel like your skis are on ball bearings twisting under you. (I'm still working on getting that down.)

I'd recommend that you practice pivot slips and have someone who knows critique your form. These will help you develop the full independant leg action from the hips down. You will find that your short radius turns will get much better.

An exercise that I've done that really works is to start with pivot slips and then as you advance down the hill start changing them into short radius turns. You'll find that you will get a rythm started with the pivot slips that naturally flows into the short radius turns.

Now, look at the Mogul movements. They are the same as in skiing on groomed with the exception of the absorption of the bump as you flow over them. The feet go up and down in relation to the body and the turns keep coming from the ball and socket joints down. (Now, if it were only as easy to do as it is to say. I'm still working at this. One of these days.....: )

Hope this helps you.
post #3 of 17
When I'm teaching, all levels, one of my primary focuses is the hips. The reason is because the hips are generally the central point where all movements to create a turn are started.

Now in short radius turns (please clarify how short a radius you're talking about), to me generally about the width of a cat track, I find that the amount of hip is relative to the proportion of steering/edging that is required. In a more skidded turn, generally you are in a more vertical stance and require a greater amount of steering (less edge angle), where as a more edged turn will require the hip to come into play (to counter the forces trying to throw you over the ski) creating an upper and lower body separation, less steering will be required and generally the speed is increased (the reason I say generally is because most skiided turns are generally a slower paced turn - this is not always the case).

If you are saying that your lower legs are hurting when making short radius turns, that says to me (obviously I cannot see what you are doing) that you are trying to get the edges more involved, but the edge angle is being derived (possibly) strictly below the knee (and knees aren't meant to move a lot laterally). The problem comes in when you try to get too much edge angle and do not have enough speed. The reason I say this is because you might be reaching for an edge angle that would force your upper and lower body separation to the point of losing balance laterally. However it could be that you are not completely comfortable with how well the ski is holding its edge (my point is could your skis just need a tune up - could your pain, and lower leg movements be from attempting to compensate for an inadequate tune).

Your hips, to some extent, should be involved in every turn you make, just the degree of involvement may change. I would definately look into drills like Side Slips (both with and without checks), Pivot Slips, and Pivot Slip variations (such as Pivot Slips -> Short Swing -> Short Radius turns and high an low pivot slips, attempting Pivot Slips in both a tall and a short/compressed stance).

Now moguls are a little different ballgame, but I think in general, the better people get and more comfortable they get with short radius and short swing turns the happier they are in the bumps and the eaiser it is to effectively help them.

Don't be affraid to practice skills needed for bumps, crud, trees on the groomed slopes. Its much easier to engrain new/unfamiliar movements on a comfortable, non-intimidating slope.
post #4 of 17
Marty,

I feel your pain.

Not really, but pain is a great diagnostic tool. Whether your pain is coming from your muscles (e.g. they are getting tired or cramping) or your joints (e.g. ankle cracking) is helpful information. Specifically where your pains are is also critical to a good diagnosis (e.g. toes/ankles/shins/calfs/quads). Finally, when the pain is occuring (beginning/middle/end of turns, start right away in short turns, lingers how long after short turns) would be very helpful.

Your pain could be a result of a physical problem (e.g. an injury, poor muscle tone), an equipment problem (e.g. bad alignment, dull edges, worn out base), a technique problem (e.g. inefficient technique causes your muscles to work harder) or a combination.

It's common for skiers to get tired and sore when they make short radius turns due to the higher intensity of effort involved.

Although there is no substitute for an in person hands on analysis, it's possible to get different diagnoses whether you're online or on snow. More information will help us give you a better online diagnosis.
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manus
When I'm teaching, all levels, one of my primary focuses is the hips. The reason is because the hips are generally the central point where all movements to create a turn are started.

Yikes! And you're prob a level 3 also!
post #6 of 17
I can't tell if that is supposed to be an insult or joke. And yes I am level 3 certified.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
how short a radius -> I am trying to follow a line - significantly narrower than the width of a cat track. I am trying to slow down as i move down this steep, narrow line - so I am trying to edge my skis more in order to slow down and get better control.

I have no problem using my hips to carve(using my edges) when I am making long radius terms. I do that well. Its only when i am trying to make short radius turns - I feel I don't have "enough time" to use my hips. I end up making turns with my legs (below the knee) - which is faster - but hurts my knees. does that make sense?
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
If I am making short radius turns - for example - in bumps, crud or trees - i find myself using only the lower part of my legs ( knee downwards). this can
sometimes get to be painful.

should i be attempting to use my hips in these situations.

thanks
MARTY:

It depends what you mean by "use my hips." To steer the skis, the preferred technique (because it is the most effective with the fewest negative consequences) is to rotate the femur in the hip socket without actually rotating the hip socket itself. The hip socket is part of the pelvic girdle-that large, strangely shaped bone that sits on top of the legs. So ideally, the legs turn, the pelvic girdle does not. So if you mean should I TURN my hips (ie the pelvic girdle)as I steer, the answer will almost always be no. In fact, if your subjective experience is that you are actively guiding the skis with your lower legs you are probably on the right track.
This of course says nothing about the pain you are having, which is another matter. By the way, where is this pain?

cdnguy
post #9 of 17
Are your skis flat to the snow as they pass under your body? I am envisioning an "edge set" that completes the turn, and then a hop to the other edge. OUCH!
post #10 of 17
I may be off base here, but it sounds like Marty needs help in projecting his skis to make short radius turns. The upper body will basically follow the center of the cat track and turns project from the hips, kind of what we used to call short-swing. Also, speed control resulting from a slip or edge set might be helpful. In a short radius turn with projection and/or edge set, it may seem all the action is coming from the lower legs, but Manus and cdnguy are correct that the turn and power initiates from the hip. It seems to me that if Marty is steering from the knees, and his body follows the turn, the change he needs is projection.

Since I have not instructed since 1978, I'm not qualified to offer specifics, but that is what I am seeing/ hearing. Any thoughts?
post #11 of 17
Marty,

We're making progress. When you say your knees hurt, do both knees hurt in the same turn or is only one knee hurting while turning in one direction? Can you describe the pain as in the center or side of the knees and front or back? Is it a sharp pain or a throbbing one? Does the pain go away once you go back to regular turns or does it linger? Do you feel any instability accompanying the pain?

Have you tested your hamstring strength? Skiers often have over developed quads relative to their hamstrings. This can cause excess stress on the knees and be a contributing factor to ACL injuries. Testing is easy. Just compare the amount of weight you can comfortably do 7-12 reps on a leg extension machine versus a leg curl machine. I don't know the exact ratio the physical trainers use, but if you're curls are less than 1/2 of your extensions, you need work. If they are less than 1/3, the risk of injury is high. (LM -did I get that right?)

Although technique issues could be contributing to the pain you are experiencing, at this point it sounds more like that the natural increased stress of short radius turns is exacerbating a physical or equipment problem. Do you have custom footbeds? Have you ever had your alignment checked?

Finally, a disclaimer: I have not attended a medical school (and my Holiday Inn Express visits don't count either). Joint pains, especially knee pains should not be ignored. Although it's entirely possible that there's an easy explanation (e.g. you're getting old, alignment issues), it's also possible that you're dealing with the results of a minor injury and/or you've got a serious injury waiting to happen. You should consider seeing a physician or a physical therapist. The least you can do is add the item onto the discussion list for your next trip to the doctor. If your pain is more at the annoying level versus the worrying level, I'd recommend a physical therapist because they have a huge bag of evil tricks for finding out exactly what is going on.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
thanks for the suggestions,everybody. couple of points.

1. my main reason for this question was to improve my skiing technique rather than minimize pain. I am sure one would result from the other. Also - yes - my knees are weak and yes - my hamstrings are not as strong as my quads. both known problems and i am working to fix that.

2. so, the general advice seems to be that - even for short radius turns - despite the short amount time available to make that next turn - i should be using my femur/hip joint to be making the turn.

I will go ahead and try this and other exercises suggested in this thread and report back.

thanks again.
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
how short a radius -> I am trying to follow a line - significantly narrower than the width of a cat track. I am trying to slow down as i move down this steep, narrow line - so I am trying to edge my skis more in order to slow down and get better control.

I have no problem using my hips to carve(using my edges) when I am making long radius terms. I do that well. Its only when i am trying to make short radius turns - I feel I don't have "enough time" to use my hips. I end up making turns with my legs (below the knee) - which is faster - but hurts my knees. does that make sense?
From what you are saying here (and I may be having a much different menatl picture than you are actually experiencing) is there any chance that you are hesitating and tentative to get into that next turn?

The key things I caught were your reference to "steep" and a very tight turning radius (my mental picture is similar to a chute), in this type of situation if there is any hesitation its usually fear driven. That fear makes you (the almighty generic you) lean back, getting on the heels, and lose that leading with the shoulders. I'm also keying in on your saying you feel like you don't have enough time, which again, somewhat sounds like you might be leaning back (or hesitant), and then relying on what I would call a snap turn, pushing the skis out, loading the tail, and snapping the skis around, instead of driving the skis throughout the turn.

Your terminology, expressing not feeling like you have enough time, makes me think, in a properly executed turn, you shouldn't really have a sensation of a duration of time in your hips, the movements should all be working together fluidly. By talking about a feeling of time duration, it sounds like you might be ending your turn, then having to get your hips in the right place, and then making the turn, instead of one fluid motion from turn to turn.

I like to simplify things by saying hips a lot, because a lot of people have trouble with ideas like turning your femur, proper knee/ankle angulation and all the other technical stuff (I find that if people can get their hips in the right place, all the other stuff happens naturally - typically). If I were you, I would really try some of the low stance drills (Pivot Slips in a retracted stance and what I can reverse turns - when you are the most extended through the belly of the turn and the most compressed or retracted through the transition, as well as gorilla turns, excessive wide stance which causes you to lower your hips), preferably with someone who can help you assess if you are doing them properly. The reason I say to try these drills is because to me (not looking at the pain issue), it seems like you are backing down a little bit and getting a little tentative in steeper (and possibly narrower) terrain. By practicing these drills, you can reinforce the idea of the turn to turn transition in a retracted position, and if the pitch is really steep, sometimes this is an easy way to make the turns work better (think about it, ending a turn on a steep pitch, your hip needs to cross over your skis, and "rolling" the hips downhill, will naturally progress the edge change under you as you transition into a new turn) and keep your hips and shoulders aligned where they should be.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty
thanks for the suggestions,everybody. couple of points.

1. my main reason for this question was to improve my skiing technique rather than minimize pain. I am sure one would result from the other. Also - yes - my knees are weak and yes - my hamstrings are not as strong as my quads. both known problems and i am working to fix that.

2. so, the general advice seems to be that - even for short radius turns - despite the short amount time available to make that next turn - i should be using my femur/hip joint to be making the turn.

I will go ahead and try this and other exercises suggested in this thread and report back.

thanks again.
Marty:

In my earlier respose to you about the use of the hips, I focussed on the value of rotating the leg in a stable, non-rotating hip socket. Reading the thread again, I wonder if you are perhaps thinking of another hip movement.

Notice how we lean into the turn when we go around a curve when riding a bicycle in order to balance.We do exactly the same thing in parallel skiing. In technical terms our center of mass must be closer to the center of the turn than our outside foot. This is referred to as "inclination." Now when we initiate a new turn, one of of tasks is to "switch sides". In other words, if we are steerig a turn to the right, our C/Mass is inclined to the right of our feet; if we decide to turn left, we must get our C/Mass to the left of our feet. This is "the crossover".

OK, now for the hips. Although the "center of mass" is not a body part, it is frequently located in the general area of the hips. When teaching students to initiate a new turn, instructors frequently get students to bring the hips forward and ACROSS the skis to CROSSOVER and establish a new inclined position required by the new turn. Hips used in this context really means a forward/lateral movement of the whole hip structure, rather than the rotational movement of the femur in the hip socket. ( both movements may well be ocurring simultaneously, however.)

All parallel turns, regardless of radius, require a crossover and a movement of the hips ( C/MASS) to the inside in order to balance. BUT, the amount that is required depends, like so many other things in skiing, on your intent. I believe you say that you are trying to make very short turns, tighter than the width of a cat track. You also say that you feel there is not enough time to move to the inside (I`m presuming that you might be referring to this lateral move I`ve been describing). Well, you are probably right! This turn does not need (nor allow) for anything like the amount of inclination required in a dynamic parallel or GS turn, for example.

So when you feel that there is not enough time, your are, in a sense right on. And again, when you feel that there is a lot happening with your lower legs, that is also good. Getting on top of the pain problem is important, of course. And exrcises to improve rotational leg speed, and edging through angulation will be helpful.

So -rotating the leg in the hip socket/pelvis----yes
-moving the hip (C/MASS) to the inside----a must, BUT not very much.


cdnguy
post #15 of 17
Manus,

Isn't being most extended in the belly of the turn and most flexed at the transition the accepted movement pattern for shaped skis? This applies across all turn shapes and sizes, even hop turns can be executed in this manner. You are very correct that if Marty isn't using this movement pattern then learning it will certainly help him in the situation he is talking about.

cdnguy,

You only talk about crossover. If the crossing of the paths of the feet and the CoM are thought of in this way then there is indeed not enough time in short radius turns to move the CoM into the inside of the turn. But, there is plenty of time for the feet to move to the outside of the turn. Rather than think in terms of crossover or crossunder look at it in terms of how much you can make these two paths differ from each other. If I can get these paths to be very different then I can very quickly establish a lot of distance between my feet and CoM at the start of each turn. This will allow me to use the skis design as much as possible yet also let me do as much pivoting and/or skidding as I need to to make the turn size I want. This applies to Marty in that the more distance he can establish between his feet and hips the less likely he will be to have to use the lower leg to angulate to create edge angles. I suspect his pain is because of failure to establish distance between the feet and CoM early in the turn and then must use the leg to try to compensate for this late in the turn. Doing this puts his knees in a very weak position just at the time in the turn when the forces that he has to deal with are greatest. Further complcating things is that because he had little or no speed control through early shaping of the turn he must use the ski for a brake at the end of the turns, this will put even more strain on his knees and make setting up the next turn very difficult.

Marty,

Do your turns feel like they flow one into the other when you ski or does it feel like you make one turn,finish it and then start a new turn?

yd
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ydnar
Manus,

Isn't being most extended in the belly of the turn and most flexed at the transition the accepted movement pattern for shaped skis? This applies across all turn shapes and sizes, even hop turns can be executed in this manner. You are very correct that if Marty isn't using this movement pattern then learning it will certainly help him in the situation he is talking about.yd
How many people would you think you see on the slopes actually skiing like this (obviously not at an extreme amount of extension/retraction)? I know I don't see many. Many people will think that they are, but they simply are not feeling the vertical rise through their transition. Also, when done properly, turns typically appear rather smooth, whereas most people I see on the hill are anything but, with tail washes, speed checks, and all sorts of other issues involved in their turns.

When I talk about these turns, its hard to picture in your head (and granted I probably didn't describe it as good as I could have), but the limitations on extension and retraction are not the "normal" high and low stance of your skiing, but rather, as low and as tall as you can physically get.

I still think the issue might be more confidence driven though. The picture I get in my mind from what Marty describes, is a speed check at the end of the turn, slight weight shift aft, and then trying to into the next turn, which won't necessarily happen smoothly, because of the amount the body and C/M have to move.
post #17 of 17
ydnar, marty:

I agree that the feet can move away from the C/ Mass, or the C/Mass can move to the inside of the feet, or both (although I must say that on snow I personally have trouble feeling the difference) My point to Marty is that if he is trying to make very tight short rad turns, less than a cat track width, and certainlly shorter than than a racing slalom turn, that turn will not require a lot of inclination to be established quickly. So no need to think about getting the feet to steer away quickly, which I agree can create inclination and edge angle quickly. (and is great for a longer turn) . He certainly should strive to fully extend the legs in a forward/lateral motion, but in this type of turn, it is unecessary, or very difficult to think about getting the hips low and inside.

cdnguy
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