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Alignment Issues in Novice Bump Skiers

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
My new fascination with bump skiing has inspired me to explore the postural issues experienced by other bump newbies or bump challenged skiers. To paraphrase an old saying, "when the teacher is ready, the student appears."

I've begun to attract some higher level skiers to my sports -conditioning studio who have serious problems with bump skiing. There is an interesting trend in postural algnment issues amongst all of them. By alignment, I'm not talking about the things that can be immediately fixed by a bootfitter/alignment specialist. These are chronic, habitual postural issues and muscle imbalances that may result form past injuries, occupational alignment such as the foward head on a computer geek, structional issues or imitation of a parent's posture.

Here are some of the things I see when my clients are in gym clothes:

Hyper-extended spine:
The client leans back. This usually leads to:

Hyper-extended knees: Legs are locked, and in a static position. Hamstrings are deactivated, causing a hamstring/ quad muscular imbalance. This leads to an inability to keep knees soft, which makes it difficult for the legs to absorb the bumps.

unstable ankles: We are talking major vibration on even the most simple balance exercise. I've also noticed very limited dorsi flexion.

Faulty neck alignment: Head is fixed either to the left or right. They often have more trouble with turns to one side as opposed to the other. Since the head is the heaviest part of the body, this makes sense. Other upper body misalignments are usually present. My students tell me that they often end up with their poles way back behind them, which, of course, puts them even more in the back seat. Neck and shoulders are usually pretty tight, which can lead to :

Dysfunctional breathing:
Breathing is extremely shallow. Some studies have shown that shallow breathing can lead to a physiological state of anxiety, which can explain the terror some of these people feel on a bump run.

Very little deep core activation:
The core stabilizers, such as the transverse abdominal muscle and the pelvic floor or highly inactive. This has NOTHING to do with the rectus, the muscles used in crunches. The inactive core stabilizers make it impossible for these folks to keep a quiet upper body when skiing bumps.

Making matters even more interesting: many of my students go to Jeff Bergeron at Boot Fixation. He notices the same things I do.

Any other observations?
post #2 of 3
I believe one of the hardest things for most people to overcome is the willingness to project their upper bodies down the fall line in tough moguls. It's counter intuitive, and our instincts tell us danger lurks and we have the tendency to"hug the hil". I am forming the opinion the old instruction adage forward- forward- forward still applies in challenging bumps. Staying centered doesn't seem to be enough to keep you from getting in the back seat. I ski my best bump runs when I have my shins against my boot tongues and my knees over my toes pieces. Sounds like 1970's technique, but it keeps me in balance for the next turn and more solid on my skis.

There are undoubtedly many other technique factors that impact mogul skiing. But if you're being pushed backward you'e probably not skiing your best.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
In a college acting class, i was once told that in order to create the postural distortion necessary to portray a specific character, you first need to understand a "neutral posture." If a person's natural day to day posture has them being either too far foward or too far back, they will be unable to make the postural adjustments need when working with gravity.

So in skiing, as in acting, finding a neutral, centered alignment is important.

But what the heck do I know?
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