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Alignment, Canting, Duct Tape -HELP!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I was hoping that someone who is very knowledgeable about alignment issues and canting in particular could provide me with some information.

I am very bowlegged and have been realizing over the past year or so how much this has affected my skiing. Last year I brought my boots to a bootfitter and although he told me they were too big, he did build me some foot beds and adjusted the boots as best he could which made a big difference in my skiing and comfort (i have high arches so the footbeds really helped there.)

Anyway, although the adjustments he made were helpful, it was clear that I still had major alignment issues. Specifically, the bowleggedness forces more weight to the outside of my feet with results in my skis edges being out of alignment relative to each other. Instead of my ski being flat _ _ they tend to be like this / \ Therefore in a turn my outside ski is under edged and want to go more straight down the fall line (understeer) and my inside ski is overedged and wants to turn more sharply (oversteer.) This forces me to either ski on one ski or the other since they don't want to turn at the same rates. Alternatively I can force my knees inward to eliminate the bowleggedness, but this is not natural and hard to do with any consistancy.

So, at my bootfitter's advice i tried putting layers of duct tape between the bottoms of my boots and the ski binding. I don't remember if he told me where to put it so I experimented and found that six layers on the INSIDE of the skis seemed to help a great deal. The duct tape on the inside would result in more edging there and 'flatten' my ski bottoms(from / \ to _ _) and put them in alignment with each other. For the first time ever I felt I could tip my knees simultaneously and both skis would track together through the turn. Also, for the first time I could ski on one ski, previously I would always fall away (inside) from the ski I was on - if I tried to ski on my right ski, I would fall towards the left. The duct tape seemd to fix that and viola! one legged skiing became possible.

Now I know, I know, I know that six layers of tape is alot and can reduce the safety of the binding so clearly I need to ditch the tape and have the boots ground or otherwise adjusted to deal with the canting issues. But the boots were old and not worth the investment so new boots were in order.

Having moved, I asked for recommendations for a new bootfitter and have worked with him to get the footbeds installed and he has adjusted the cuffs and all that. Everything seems fine except for the canting issue. We talked about it and agreed that I should try the new boots with the duct tape to zero in on the proper amount of cant before we grind/adjust the boots. However, he said that since I'm bowlegged I should put the duct tape on the OUTSIDE edges. He showed me how (by standing on a perfectly flat surface) canting wedges would force my knees inward so they are more stacked over my ankles, he said that this would improve my balance.

So now I am thoroughly confused. I can see his point about the knees, but when I am in a turn there is only one edge 'on the ground' at a time, therefore there are not two edges to provide reference forces to guide the knee into place. Wouldn't my knee revert to it's 'normal' position and I be left with even worse ski bottom edge angles? Is he confusing boot/knee alignment with ski bottom edge alignment? Was I imaging last year's onelegged skiing and the simultaneous tracking skiing?


Anyway, any help or insight to the bowlegged skiing question would be greatly apreciated. Specifically should the tape be on the inside or outside? Real world success would be more valued than theoretical guesses. Any Bowlegged bootfitters out there?


post #2 of 28
Find a copy of Warren Witheral's book "The Athletic Skier". Read it. It's the most complete explanation I've found for these issues. The book includes a method for measureing how much canting you need.
A growing challenge is how to apply canting on skis with integrated bindings. You've got to be really sure before you grind the boots because you can't put the material back on. It's costly if you screw it up and need to replace the boots. I don't see where you are from geographically, but hopefully someone else here on the forum can guide you to a truely capable boot fitter near you.. Jim Lindsey in Aspen would have my trust if you can get to him. Send a private if you want to know how to contact him.
post #3 of 28
I'm not a bowlegged fitter, but a bowlegged skier (Approx. 3+ degrees out each leg)

Adding the tape on the outside moves the knees inwards. It helps realign the leg, so that the foot, knee and hip are closer to the same plane. This is especially important if you have had injury to the medial meniscus/surgery. (That's the inside.)

Adding the tape on the inside can make the ski go flat too, but it will increase the loading on the inside of the knee joint (the medial compartment). You need to avoid this.

Bowlegged people tend to wear out the meniscus in the medial compartment first, because that is where the load has been all their lives. Moving the knee inwards, by shaving off the inside of the boot (or adding to the outside) will place the load more evenly between inside (medial) and outside (lateral) compartments in the knee. Your knees should last longer this way, and your legs should feel VERY much stronger once aligned.

I did, and the pain stopped. They moved my legs over 1.5 degrees each, with feet directly under the hip sockets. The key to doing it right is foot placement. My feet were on 12" centers -- I have wide hips. This will vary from person to person.

Hope this helps.
post #4 of 28
Hey Steve,
Try posting this in the ski gear thread. There are a few bootfitters there that may respond. Terry
post #5 of 28
Another great resource here is Bud Heishman who is a member. Bud has been doing alignment work for many years in the Reno/Tahoe area. Check out this article on his website at http://www.snowind.com/pages/balancing.htm. I did an advanced search for keyword Alignment posts by Bud Heishman and got this result (link did not function, you will have to do it on your own).
If that works, there should be some good stuff in there for you. Hopefully he will check in here later.

post #6 of 28

You do need a better bootfitter. Try Green Mountain Orthotics in Stratton. There are also some good fitters in the shops on the Killington Access Road.

If you are bowlegged and your feet are like /\, then you either need to raise the outside to get to -- or lower the inside to get to --. You can't lower anything by adding duct tape. You absolutely could have been skiing better with tape on the inside positions, but then people have been known to cure illnesses with sugar pills too.

A good bootfitter should measure your bowleggedness and know exactly how many degrees of correction you SHOULD need. This is a starting point for using duct tape and seeing what actually works best, before you commit to permanent changes to your boot (once it's planed off you can't add it back). In the shop the bootfitter should be able to show you "here is where your knees are now, here is where they will be when the boot is fixed". From the fixed position, you should be able to see the increased range of motion afforded and feel the difference in power transfer through the feet at any given angle. Get the duct tape canting done in the shop so you can see your knees in the fixed position standing on your own skis on a flat ski shop floor, then go out on the hill and experiment with more or less tape. When you are experimenting on snow, be aware that people with alignment problems tend to develop movements to compensate. It's hard to not continue making those movements after your alignment has been adjusted. A good ski instructor can help spot these movements and help make your experimentation more accurate.

Even though you only use one edge on snow, it's the structural alignment from the feet to the hips that impacts performance. Try this exercise while standing barefoot on a hard surface floor. Try different variations of starting positions with your knees directly over feet, outside of your feet and inside your feet (use your ankles to control the starting amount of bowleggedness vs knee knocking), then roll both knees from one side to the other so that your feet get up on edge. For each position, sense the amount of pressure you feel on each foot and how easy it is to consciously shift some weight from one foot to another (without changing your foot's angle to the floor)when you are knees are at the farthest they can go to one side. Even if you naturally bowlegged or knock-kneed, this should give you a sense of how the centered stance can be better for your skiing.

caveat emptor - I am not a bootfitter, but I did sleep in a Holiday Express last night.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. It was Greg at GMO who got me on the duct tape in the first place. I'm using the footbeds be built for me. But with regards to canting his advice was to experiment and 'I would know it when I get it right." Greg also doesn't use any 'machines' to measure this stuff. He seemed to be fine with just using the duct tape. As he said "Steve, we all ski with duct tape."

My experience with other boot fitters have been simliar. They can get you in the right boot, with a good foot bed, and adjust the boot to your foot, but when it comes to canting everything starts to get fuzzy.

There seems to be two totally different schools of thought on this. The first (the orthopedic approach) is what you were advising, move the knee into the proper position for balance and leg alignment. I think this approach is best for folks who have balance issues or have knee problems (of which I have neither.) Bowlegged folk should tape outside.

The other, totally opposite approach is concerned with making sure the bottom edges of the skis are in proper alignment. Tape inside.

For example, take someone who has perfect legs, no knock knees or blowleggedness. Now cant his boots to 3 degrees and have him go skiing. No matter that his legs are perfect, now the bottom edges of his skis are off / \. As he turns one ski will be over edged and the other underedged and they will want to go in different directions. Despite his perfect leg alignment he will not ski well.

As for me, you can force my bowlegged knees into a 'normal' place but they do not want to stay there and it is not comfortable for me. My balance is fine with my crooked knees but my edges are not fine. Uncorrected, the skis do not want to track together. But the duct tape does seem to work, by lowering (yes duct tape can 'lower') the inside edges.

I don't disagree with you about leg/knee alignment. I would prefer proper leg alignment to my bowleggedness. But the bigger problem with me is the edge issue and adding tape to the outside seems to make that worse.

If anyone knows how to achieve both proper knee placement and proper edge angles I'd love to know. It seems canting can fix one or the other but not both.

post #8 of 28
Disclaimer: NOT a BOOTFITTER!

SBarry, I think you are on the right course to first understand your alignment issues. The "school of thought" (requiring you to cant thick side out for your bowleggedness) that most people are talking about here is the most accepted. However, it seems to me that there are some exceptions to this approach. For example, if bringing your knees in straight alignemnt with your feet and hips leaves you in a position where you have little or no hip internal rotation (due to some other problem) then this may not be the best approach.

With that said, let me try and "illustrate" the two models. First consider standing in your boots (flat) on your skis on hard ground. In this case you may want to look at structuaral alignment and pressure as the main parameters to consider. Under this model your bowleggedness places a large pressure gradient across your foot with much higher pressure on the outside vs. the inside of the ski. Adding canting, thick side out, will shift the knee over and result with more even pressure distribution allowing the skier to more easily pressure either the outside or the inside of the ski (tip/edge the ski in either direction).

Another way to model the situation is to consider the position the skis will take with a person's given anatomy in soft snow. This, I think, is the picture you have drawn. Here, the "neutral stance" ski position is as you've shown and you might think that adding canting thick side in might might work to level the ski in this neutral position.

Turns out that in most situations the alignment of foot, knee, and hip are what is critical to skiing and so the first model is the one that seems to get the best result. I would claim, however, that there may be some situations where that does not hold.
post #9 of 28
Sbarry, oops, I was writing while you posted. You seem to already understand the points I was trying to make.
post #10 of 28
The process I went through last year to have my boots aligned went like this.
Boots were selected, footbeds built, boots punched stretched and ground to fit, cuff alignment.

The next steps are the important ones. First we worked on finding the natural distance between my feet, how far apart I would normally keep them while skiing. The boot fitter used a contraption to measure the deviation of my knees from Top Dead Centre.
With my feet at the natural stance distance, the bootfitter used shims under my boots while I flexed them to verify the measurement he had on the contraption. This was all done in the shop prior to any grinding on the boot soles. During the standing and flexing on shims time, one knee was found to require addition corrections. This takes time, in my case probably an hour and a half to sort out the wonky knee. The fitter took his time checked, and double checked. It worked out beautifully.

For what it’s worth, my knees track to the outside when flexing, the correction that works for me is 2 degrees on the left foot and 3 degrees on the right. That is high side to the outside on both.

I think a good boot fitter should be able to check and verify the corrections before doing any work on the soles. I would not ski with anything between my boots and bindings. I know people mention the duct tape test all the time, but it scares me. Finally once the boots are ground, the binding interface lugs need to be built back up to spec. Have the boot fitter show you the DIN gauge and how your boots measure up.
post #11 of 28
Originally Posted by srbarry
As for me, you can force my bowlegged knees into a 'normal' place but they do not want to stay there and it is not comfortable for me. My balance is fine with my crooked knees but my edges are not fine. Uncorrected, the skis do not want to track together. But the duct tape does seem to work, by lowering (yes duct tape can 'lower') the inside edges....

adding tape to the outside seems to make that worse.

If anyone knows how to achieve both proper knee placement and proper edge angles I'd love to know. It seems canting can fix one or the other but not both.Steve
I hope the bootfitters chime in on this (I'm certainly out of my league), I reply because I think what you have already said makes good intuitive sense. Duct tape on the inside of the boot sole would ultimately translate to shaving the outsole to achive the degrees of correction. This would leave your boot sole thicker on the inside edge and thiner to the outside allowing your foot and leg to be in a natural position while engaging the inside edge. No one is going to be able to change your physiology, they can only make the equipment work with it. I think you were on the right track before second guessing. Based on Bud's website, each layer of duct tape is equivalent to 1/4 degree of protection, so 6 layers is still only 1-1/2 degrees.
post #12 of 28
I was surprised when you said you packed the duct tape on the inside of the foot position. That is for correcting feet that roll in wards, and knock knees.

I had a lot of bow-legged subpunating people in lessons last season... they were so bow legged, they could not snowplough, because as they made their triangle, the outside edges of the skis were engaging the snow, not the inside edges. Or else the skis were just flat, and they sailed down the slope sideways!!!

They tried to roll their feet inwards to force the skis to tip onto their inside edges, but the strain and pain of this soon wore them out. So I took to building up the boot insoles (under the outside of the foot) with trail maps and duct tape, which worked wonders. We aren't allowed to touch the bindings of guests, so no ability to cant the boot from the outside.

I don't know why bow-leggedism is so common in the US. One of the guests had been born in china, and said that in his region there was a vitamin deficiency that caused it (rickets). But others were from all over the place. For some people it wasn't a bad enough issue to stop them from controlling their skis, but it was going to be an issue later and I recommended they see a bootfitter about it.
But for some, skiing was not even possible without correction (and they too got the instructions to at the very least, have their own footbeds made up).

It sounds like you're on the right track, but if it's too much of your balance is on the outside of your feet, you want to bring that inwards, by raising the outside of the feet to tip them inwards, so that you will have pressure spread all over the foot, not on the outside edges.
post #13 of 28
Originally Posted by srbarry
But with regards to canting his advice was to experiment and 'I would know it when I get it right." Greg also doesn't use any 'machines' to measure this stuff. He seemed to be fine with just using the duct tape.
My experience with other boot fitters have been simliar. They can get you in the right boot, with a good foot bed, and adjust the boot to your foot, but when it comes to canting everything starts to get fuzzy.
The other, totally opposite approach is concerned with making sure the bottom edges of the skis are in proper alignment. Tape inside.
As for me, you can force my bowlegged knees into a 'normal' place but they do not want to stay there and it is not comfortable for me. My balance is fine with my crooked knees but my edges are not fine. Uncorrected, the skis do not want to track together. But the duct tape does seem to work, by lowering (yes duct tape can 'lower') the inside edges.
If anyone knows how to achieve both proper knee placement and proper edge angles I'd love to know. It seems canting can fix one or the other but not both.
We're all learning as we go here. We did have some participation on epic from a western bootfitter named Bud Heishman, but he's been busy at the shop for a while.

Yes - you do not need a machine to measure alignment. But good bootfitters will measure. I've seen plumb bobs and cut out guides in use. And everyone that I've worked with who has had alignment issues has come back to me grinning from ear to ear after they've been fixed. Greg seems to be spot on with his "you'll know it" comment. I've seen a lot of people go to GMOL with great results. But I've also seen a few people not get good results.

With regards to the canting issue, that's why I added the link the CAS thread that we had going earlier this year (the Holiday Inn quip in my last post). There seems to be widespread acceptance that we in the industry can do better. How we can get better is not as well agreed upon. (sigh: ).

Aligning the bottom of the skis to flat does not seem to me to be an opposite approach. IMHO, with the absence of any other physical issues above the knee, aligning the knees SHOULD get the skis flat. Per the exercise I gave you, getting your feet flat on the floor should give you the comfort of more power transfer and more range of motion. The cost is increased muscle tension to change from your natural position (in your case trying the knock kneed position should require the most tension). Canting and footbeds give you support to make the increased tension a little less uncomfortable. You'll feel the comfort effects of canting most when you're moving.

With regards to raising or lowering, my bad. Raising the outside edges will correspondingly lower the inside edges. It's your comment that taping the inside edges works best for your bowlegged condition that is throwing all of us for a loop. Putting the duct tape over the inside edge will have the effect of naturally moving the knee to the outside (decreasing knock kneedness, increasing bowleggedness). I think Si is on the right track with starting to look at possible hip issues. It may be time to visit a medical doctor (e.g. podiatrist). Are your legs the same length? Do you have back problems?

At home I tried an on purpose bowlegged stance, then moved my hips inside my feet to try to force my feet to be overedged on the inside (thus requiring tape on the inside edge to fix) while being bowlegged. I could do this a little bit with one foot. When trying with two feet, I had to use an extreme cowboy stance (feet outside the shoulders) and extreme knee flex and still could not get much inside pressure. I think this shows how hips could be causing your situation. I'm not sure if playing with this could help your understanding of what is going on, but you might want to try it.

I think Cirque's "duct tape on the inside of the boot sole" is confusing. When I first read this I thought the reference was to duct tape inside the boot! We've been pretty consistent that the duct tape goes on the binding either over the inside edge or the outside edge. There are some people who advocate canting inside the boot via the footbed. I'm not smart enough to know what the biomechanical advantages and disadvantages of this approach are, but it at least does not permanently change the boot or possibly effect the binding interface.

If you read through the CAS thread, I think you'll get a tiny bit of appreciation for how difficult it is for us to make a recommendation of how to fix both knee alignment and edging. If you're still having trouble when the snow flies, get someone to video you on skis coming straight at the camera and from the side, then post it online (here's an example thread). This COULD help us give you some better answers.
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. Yes we are all learning here. No one more than me.

I posted this in another thread. Some things to think about/try.

Originally Posted by Gopher

What Witherell/Evrard are missing is the difference in how biomechanics play out on a hard surface such as a floor or an alignment bench and on 99.999% of ski terrain. While it is possible to align the center of knee mass 1-to-2 degrees inside-of-center of your boot while standing on a hard surface, this "alignment" isn’t maintained once you move to a typical snow surface. On snow, your knee will move back to its natural position (in your case bow-legged) because there is no force pushing back. By this, I mean a hard surface in a bootfitter's shop will resist this movement, while a typical snow surface (including Midwest/Eastern hardpack) simply gives way. This might not hold true in an extreme situation of bulletproof ice. But even then, I'm not so sure.



Exactly. Another related/similar point is that standing on a floor or alignment bench both 'edges' of each boot are in contact with the floor and hence are able to provide the leverage to move the knee into position. However while skiing most of the time we are turning and on only one edge per ski.

For the outside ski, how in the world could an outside edge with wedging/canting force the knee into position when it is in the air? Even the inside ski, with it's canted edge in contact with the snow does not have the second edge to 'reference' and therefore cannot provide any leverage to move the knee.

If you were to 'freeze' in the middle of the turn while on edge, wedges could be added or subtracted to the edge in the air without any effect on your knees, all that would be accomplished is to change the plane of the ski bottom relative to the snow.

Or how about this, go to a bootfitter, stand on the alignment bench and then lean over to put your boots on edge. Now ask the boot fitter to align your knees using wedges!! Can't be done. Wedges added to the boot edges in the air do nothing obviously, and wedges added to the boot edged in contact with the ground would only raise you off the ground.

What the wedges do do however is to change the plane of the ski bottom and if the planes of both skis are not parallel, the skis will track different arcs. For me this results in the outside ski (under edged) wanting to go straighter and the inside ski (over edged) wanting to turn more. If anyone out there is experiencing this, lets talk some duct tape.

Anyway, thanks for the reply, it's nice to know that I'm not alone in this line of thought.

post #15 of 28
I'm not being a bootfitter, but someone who skied knockkneed b/c I normally stand on the outside of my feet (like someone who is bulllegged). I first had cants on my skis 4 and 6 deg. with the thick side on the inside. It helped my knockkneed skiing go away. Then I was fitted for orthotics and had my boots adjusted and took the cants off, and it was better yet. I am thinking of also having my boots ground to try to 0 in more.
As to your q, you know what feels right in your skiing, so maybe making the adjustment at snow level (knee bottom of foot) makes sence for you over proper foot, knee, hip allignment.

post #16 of 28

another thought...

when i have been "fitted" for canting the question seemed to be more "how does the center of mass of your knee TRACK (with respect to plumb) as you flex into
the boot? they would place a mark on my knee with a marker and then have
me flex into the boot, with adjustments made to get the mark to track plumb

fwiw, he also made a hash mark on the boot cuff to help best line up the boot
cuff with my shin. while i would not call that canting, it does make a difference.
post #17 of 28
Hi, Bud here, You need an "alignment specialist" not to be confused or neccessarily grouped with a "bootfitter". Boot fitting is not the same animal. There are more and more alignment specialists out there these days. Ask the ski schools or race departments in your area for recommendations. Be carefull taking advice from well wishers who all have varying degrees of understanding and misperceptions on this subject. It's not voodoo. Good luck and if you are planning a trip to Tahoe, look me up I would be happy to help you.
post #18 of 28
Bud's right. I'll throw in my 2 cents though.
I've done a lot of grinding and usually test with duc tape first. Six layers is about one degree. That's not a lot, I use about nine on my boots. I highly reccomend and have had good success with the Athletic Skier method. Their way gives the best leverage against the edge. If it only takes six layers to get you flat (neutral) on the snow you're probably pretty close to where they say you should be.
Since you're using "understeer" and "oversteer" let me throw some more "car stuff" at you. When you carve railroad tracks you carve parts of two concentric circles. (just as the front wheels do) Alignment on a car allows the inside wheel to turn in more to make the tighter radius so the wheels don't scrub. (called toe out on turns) With skis like this / \ one degree and shins parallel, the inside one edges two degrees more than the outside one. For me that gives two nice RR track arcs. If you feel "understeer" on the outside ski try pulling your feet (especially the inside one) back under your hips to engage the tips and pressure the front of the skis more. (it's easier to pull the feet under you than to move your body ahead of your feet, the effect is the same)
Witherall says for more than four degrees of bowleggedness, fill in the space to flatten the skis. (that's a lot of duc tape)(about 24 layers)
Experimenting is good but some coaching along with it is advised since, as I mentioned above, there are other factors that effect the way the skis turn. I've been experimenting with a more neutral cant and a narrower stance lately. The jury is still out but so far it's doing what I'm looking for. I'd strongly reccomend that you read the book first though. Ron LeMaster's The Skier's Edge has some good stuff on this too.
Good luck
post #19 of 28

oops! Wrong thread.

Wrong thread, sorry.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks folks for all the perspectives. Part of my reason for bringing this up was to get people thinking about this issue. Especially if they've never played with canting or have just blindly accepted a boot fitters recomendation.
My experience has been that many boot fitters simply focus on using canting to align the knees while standing on a flat hard surface. I think folks who just take that as gospel are not likely to achieve optimal results. In my case, a few 'experts' have told me that since I'm bowlegged I should add canting/tape to the outside, period, end of story. My own experimentation has convinced me that this would be counter productive in my case. As a ski instructor I spend a lot of time working on my technique (including tucking/pulling the feet under the body as per Slatz) but at some point you become pretty sure that there are other issues involved. A few years ago I even had a PSIA examiner tell me (on the first morning of a two day clinic that I paid some good bucks for) that it was worthless to even work on my technique until the alignment was fixed. Talk about a chicken and egg problem! You can't have proper technique without proper alignment first, but you can't tell if it's an alignment issue unless you've eliminate the possibility of bad technique.

So........I've ordered the Athletic Skier and will ask around about an alignment specialist (as per Bud), but I'm pretty sure I'm close to where I need to be. If anything I may need to test a few more layers before having the grinding done - I was leery of going beyond six, but it seems that at least a few folks are using even more.

But anyway, since my experience was 180 degrees off what I was being told, I just wanted to see if anyone here could resolve the conumdrum. From what I've read here and on other threads, there are no simple answers to these issues. I'm lucky to be able to get a lot of time on the slopes and can rely on good old trial and error to help me get zeroed in.

Thanks for all the help,

post #21 of 28
I have read all the posts here. You are getting good advice. I would only add that you to go to a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine/training. I have friends who work in this area. Bow-leggedness can be improved by the right exercises. I'm not saying it can be cured, but it can be improved.

You have to realize that the uniformity of body type you see, for example, in college football, isn't that they clone people, but that the exercise programs they give these kids are very individualized to make very functional and agile athletes so that everyone has a similarly developed body, with very similar high level skills. This is a far cry from training even 10 years ago. Look at how lineman can run down running backs and receivers from behind. That rarely used to happen. And everyone had vastly different physical appearance and development in the earlier days of football.

So, exercise, if keyed to your body, can make a difference in posture, alignment, movement and skills. Find a good therapist/trainer who will evaluate your body and give you an indivdiualized program to improve it.

You also might want to look at Eric Franklin's book "Pelvic Power." He is a dancer/movement specialist who has a lot of exercises on alignment, movement and imaging to improve body function. Finally, we have a website, which we are just about ready to reannounce here on Epic as we complete our revisions of it. It gets into imagery as a way to improve your posture and alignment for skiing. Some of it is from Franklin, some from other sources. We plan to eventually expand it to include other sports: http://www.geocities.com/skieralignment/home.html

Like everyone says in this thread, you are going to need expert alignment for your boots, which is well beyond me. I think that the more experienced boot specialist, the better, since a number of specialists on this site have suggested what may be wrong with what's been done for you.
post #22 of 28
Originally Posted by srbarry
A few years ago I even had a PSIA examiner tell me (on the first morning of a two day clinic that I paid some good bucks for) that it was worthless to even work on my technique until the alignment was fixed. Talk about a chicken and egg problem! You can't have proper technique without proper alignment first, but you can't tell if it's an alignment issue unless you've eliminate the possibility of bad technique.
I disagree with this completely. Alignment and technique are two very different things. It is very easy for a good fitter to tell if alignment is the problem by just be looking at your stance. There are many tools that fitters use to make that static evaluation.

Poor alignment will cause problems in your ability to learn solid technique. But compensating by changing technique cannot mask poor aligment. It is very simple for the trained eye to see alignment issues.
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 


Hi folks,

Well, as suggested in this thread and others, I have read 'The Athletic Skier' (TAS) and 'All Mountain Skiing" (AMS) and I have a much better sense of what is going on in my case. I think this 'case example' might be instructive for others in thinking about and refining their skiing alignment.

First, a few folks have pointed me to 'The Athletic Skier' as a good reference for alignment issues. TAS is a fine book and I'm very glad I read it but I think it has caused a lot of confusion with regard to canting issues. In particular, TAS assumes that bowlegged skiers are overcanted. It further (less directly) assumes that bowlegged skiers have pronated ankles. While these assumptions may be true for a majority of bowlegged skiers, they are not true in my case and I'm sure that there are others out there like me. However, it is these assumptions that lead to the (too) general conclusion that canting should be used on the outside of the skis for bowlegged skiers. Somehow this conclusion has become common wisdom and it is what I have been told repeatedly by almost everyone. Conversely, a other few folks told me "it all depends" and while that advice might have been frustratingly unhelpful it was also more accurate.

In my case, while I am bowlegged it is primarily due to excessive curvature of my lower leg (tibia/fibula.) Also my ankles are supinated (not pronated as TAS assumes.) My particular leg anatomy results on much more pressure on the outside edges of my feet. If you look at any of my street shoes you will see excessive wear on the outside edges. These dymanics result in my being generally undercanted on skis (not overcanted as TAS would assume for a bowlegged skier.) Therefore, there is no absolute link between bowleggedness and canting solutions. It 'all depends.'

The second issue with TAS is that it primarily focuses on 'moving the knee' as the central concept/goal of alignment. For a bowlegged skier this leads to the use of canting on the outside to move the knee inward. While this may work for some bowlegged skiers it is not the correct approach in all cases. In my case this would take my undercanted stance and make it even more undercanted.

I think All Mountain Skiing (AMS) while not atempting to be as comprehensive as TAS with regard to canting issues, actually gives much better advice. AMS puts forward two golden rules with regard to canting. The first is "theories and predictions don't matter, results do.. the idea is to get the ski flat and keep the knee in a sound position." The second is "if I have to make a decision between a knee that's in the right spot or a ski that rides flat, I'll always opt for skis that ride flat." Halleluah!

In my case, despite what most everyone was telling me I knew that I was undercanted. In fact, if you read the description in TAS about the effects of being undercanted (excessive knee angulation, ski slides at beginning of turn, loses edge in turn) it fits me perfectly (without canting.) Tape on the inside of my skis fixed this and helped me achieve a flat ski which had an immediate and hugely positive effect on my skiing (even though everyone thought I was crazy.)

So what have I learned and what advice would I give to other? First, I agree totally with AMS in that while it is reasonable to try and move the knee to the best position, it is more important to achieve a flat (or very slightly overcanted) ski. There are exceptions of course (knee injury, pain, etc.) But in general if your skis are not flat you will not ski anywhere near your potential. If your bootfitter, in an honest attempt to center your knee, is not paying attention to whether you are achieving a flat ski as the primary goal, they may be doing you a disservice.

Secondly, skiers interested in improving their skiing must learn what under/over canting feels like and what it does to their skiing. Without exploring this issue, skiers might never realize that they are under / over canted and may never achieve their best skiing. Never assume that just since you went to a good bootfitter, that you are properly aligned. Worry less about your knee and more about a flat ski. Focus on whether you have any of the symptoms of either under or over canting and experiment with duct tape to dial yourself in. By definition, no one is perfectly canted. We all suffer from some degress of over or undercanting. Which camp do you fall into? Do you even know? How much are you over/under canted? If you haven't explore these issues, you may be in for a huge and pleasant suprise if you can achive a flatter (or just barely overcanted) ski. If you are a ski instructor, you probably are dealing with this issue every day even if you don't realize it. Can you reconize the symptoms of over/under canting in your students? Can you provide them with more help and isight than simply saying "go to a good bottfitter"? I know I will be able to help my students much more now that I have a better understanding of these issues.

Please dont' take any of this the wrong way. I respect all the good bootfitters out there and I think they generally do great work. I just want to make the point that there needs to be more emphasis on achieving a flat ski. Knees are important, but so are flat skis. Alignment discussions are dominated by a knee alignment focus. Little attention is focused on achieving a flat ski and I think that is not optimal.

Comments and feedback would be most welcome. Have fun out there and good luck!

post #24 of 28
Just stumbled on this and thought I might throw in a new angle on this no pun intended. It seems as though you are all on the fix it on the outside solution. Well it sounds like this is another example of lets try sompthing new. This will sound like blasfamy but bow legged people often pronate very seriously. This is compounted by Tibial curves that the cuffs can not fully deal with. So no matter what you do under the shell there will always remain a problem and I just won't work the way you might expect. I would suggest checking out the web page and finding a retail location that deals with the SBS or Shim Balance System. Internal canting program that will fix the pronation from within the boot and then deal with the cuff of the boot and by doing this usualy the boot grinding method will no longer be needed.

www.footfoundation.com I hope you get to try this out. If I can be of any assistance please contact me.
post #25 of 28
I believe that a footbed will certainly help to rotate the tib/fib to some extent by changing the varus/valgus but have found that in many cases it can not independantly cure all ales. I have had a podiatrist tell me that what I do is archaic and that all canting issues can be solved with an orthotic. Consiquently the very next day a customer came into my shop with orthotics made by the very same podiatrist (who coinsidentally had taught skiing for a few years in Colorado so he was an avid skier himself). Upon checking the customer's alignment he was off an amazing 4 degrees on one side and 5 degrees on the other (one of the most extreme I have ever seen). I called the doctor and mentioned that I had a patient of his in my shop and what I had found. His comment was, well, orthotics can not fix everything! Hmmmm? Please note I do not have a biomechanics degree or even a pedathorist certification but I believe I have pretty good common sense and it tells me that the whole thing is a system and has to be evaluated that way and adjustments should be made systematically to create the best results. To favor one area in place of the system, may be a mistake.
I may be wrong? and I am still learning all the time and am open to new ideas and scientific proof!
post #26 of 28
Well, taking in mind that no one method may be the answer for a particular skier, the notion that inside AND outside combinations of correction has engaged me . . . perhaps fatally (one more log for the OCD fire )
post #27 of 28
Well First of all I agree totaly. First rule of foot bedding, There is not one fix for all. And I know you and know you derserve the respect that the industry pays you.

As far as this thread goes it seems as though all options have been tried externaly and probably something was missed in the internal angle options. Most people shy away from doing anything of real importance within the boot.

With the "Shim Balance System" that we developed what we see are two seporate issues. One is the boot board angles. No one out there has the machinery to actualy quantify what the lateral boot board anges actualy are. Because of this we end up in any number of random places within the shell.
the second issue is the amount of pronation that is dealt with. So if you make a neutral foot bed like most foot bed folks do. You can support the foot in a pronated position within the shell.
So in this case it sounds like this may be happening especialy since this person says that he is very bow legged. Usually these folks will have a large amount of pronation. Because of this the ski will act out and when weighting the ski you will always be engaging the inside edge and neutral will be hard to find naturaly. With shaped skis you might feel like you are on skis that just smoked crack.

The tibia is a seporate and equaly important problem. The tibial curve that presses on the outside of the cuff will place the boot on the LTE (Little toe edge). So in this scinario the poor guy is pronating and bow legged. two seporate problems that need to be dealt with seporatly.
Boot grinding or any form or external canting will change both boot board and cuff angles all at once. The truth is you can improve both but will never get them both just right. Independent variables must be dealt with independently to get them right.

I have spent way too much time, money, learning about all this stuff and I am still learning too. Don't sell yourself short, anyone that is worth their salt hopefully is always learning.

One of my pet peves is that everyone thinks that "alignment" is written in stone. Well think about how much skiing equipment has changed in the last ten years. How much have we adjusted our thoughts on alignment to match the evolutions in ski gear? being willing to Learn is crutial to making everyone better.
post #28 of 28
I AGREE WITH YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY MOSH! Would LOVE to learn more about your system because it makes perfect sense to me!! I am dying to try it and be evaluated!!
I really believe you are onto something. We need to talk!

best wishes,
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