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Functional Training or Stupid Human Trick?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
I just happened to be at the Rec center today, and I noticed a trainer teaching an exercise with an enormously high injury rate; standing on the stability ball. On looking at his students, there were so many obvious muscular imbalances and postural misalignments that teaching them this exercise was the equivalent of a ski instructor taking novices down a double black bump run.

Furthermore, his students were gripping on to the railing at the top of the stairs as if their life depended upon it. Then I heard him say: Come on! Grip the ball as hard as you can with your toes! Just like you grip your toes to stay in balance when skiing!......okay:

Today, many people throw around the words "functional training." However, there is a big difference between a functional training exercise and a stupid human trick!

Take a look at a stability ball, and take a look at a mogul. Does the ball look like a mogul? Do moguls move down the hill when you ski over them?

Now look at the bosu. Seems much more like a mogul to me! Just as form follows function, "functional" should follow the form of the exercise.

It would be really, really, really dumb to tear your ACL by standing on a stability ball!

Rant over!
post #2 of 31
Great story Lisamarie I loved it. Yes grip the snow with your toes, classic. I've spent years getting rid of that natural reaction that caused me much arch cramping.

And I agree the bosu is more like a mogul, closer to a bimp then a bump however.
post #3 of 31
I can't remember where, but somone once told me that I should be doing exercises like that - starting off standing on the ball, and doing lunges, etc, because that would be GOOD for building up my knee strength. I tried to point out that doing that kind of thing would actually put my left knee out, but they said it would do the exact opposite. Since then I have refused to accept any physiological advice from them.
post #4 of 31

Very Stupid Trick

I'm not even sure how much crossover standing on a swiss ball has to competitive logrolling, much less skiing or everyday life.

Conceptually, my understanding of functional training is that it started out in PT trying to help people, say, pick up their toddlers, and morphed in its popular form into the idea that athletes should train on unstable surfaces even though, on average, they perform on flat and stable ones. But, it does sell well, while functional training actually aimed at having crossover to the sport may not.
post #5 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post
I just happened to be at the Rec center today, and I noticed a trainer teaching an exercise with an enormously high injury rate; standing on the stability ball. On looking at his students, there were so many obvious muscular imbalances and postural misalignments that teaching them this exercise was the equivalent of a ski instructor taking novices down a double black bump run.

Furthermore, his students were gripping on to the railing at the top of the stairs as if their life depended upon it. Then I heard him say: Come on! Grip the ball as hard as you can with your toes! Just like you grip your toes to stay in balance when skiing!......okay:

Today, many people throw around the words "functional training." However, there is a big difference between a functional training exercise and a stupid human trick!

Take a look at a stability ball, and take a look at a mogul. Does the ball look like a mogul? Do moguls move down the hill when you ski over them?

Now look at the bosu. Seems much more like a mogul to me! Just as form follows function, "functional" should follow the form of the exercise.

It would be really, really, really dumb to tear your ACL by standing on a stability ball!

Rant over!
Excellent rant with which I fully concur

Thank You

Hem
post #6 of 31
The only benefit I would see from standing on a balance ball would be demonstrating incredible core strength. Notice I said demonstrating, since I surely wouldn't recommend standing on the ball as a means to develop this strength.....Of course, I am not a trainer and am only offering a guess!

So...I would have to say stupid human trick if the person does not posses such a powerful core and if they do maybe a good way to show off!
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
Don't get me wrong. I am strongly in favor of progressive, functional balance training, but not my emphasis on porgressive and functional. One of the things I learned from Weems at the first Academy, was the difference between balancing and bracing. If an exercisies requires you to grip on to a railing and tense every muscle in your body in order to stay stable, it is no longer a balance exercise.

Unfortunately, once something becomes a fad, it ends up being misused by clueless trainers. The problem, as I see it, is that many people don't want to take the time to develop the basic balance skills, which are probably not as exciting as standing on a stability ball!
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post

Unfortunately, once something becomes a fad, it ends up being misused by clueless trainers. The problem, as I see it, is that many people don't want to take the time to develop the basic balance skills, which are probably not as exciting as standing on a stability ball!


I have vivid memories of spending gym time doing "easy" balance exercises and being sneered at by random passing males....
I mean if you aren't grunting and shoving and generally doing something "hard" it cannot be exercise can it
post #9 of 31
RE: balancing on a ball by standing on it is a bad idea

It might get you in the circus though
post #10 of 31
check out the slacklining thread! Now that looks like fun balancing.
post #11 of 31
"Unfortunately, once something becomes a fad, it ends up being misused by clueless trainers"
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post
I can't remember where, but somone once told me that I should be doing exercises like that - starting off standing on the ball, and doing lunges, etc, because that would be GOOD for building up my knee strength. I tried to point out that doing that kind of thing would actually put my left knee out, but they said it would do the exact opposite. Since then I have refused to accept any physiological advice from them.
Some people can't get it through their head that other people are actually capable of FOLLOWING the instructions. They think that when people are told to use full strength they will only use maybe 30 percent. These are the same people that give 110 percent
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post
Do moguls move down the hill when you ski over them?
(ahem) I'm ashamed to admit that I have moved a mogul or two in my day (that is, while attempting to ski over them).

Your post reminds me of the links on Gord Brown's web site (start with the 1 leg stabilzer ball). I have to say that standing on a ball is nowhere near as insane as the trampoline to ball exercise.

That said, it's often difficult to decide what to do about totally incompetent professionals in your presence. If one is the owner/manager of the facility, one could simply halt the class, privately ask the person to leave (with the discussion of why to occur later), then either take over or reschedule. Although it is unprofessional to interrupt a class, there are times when safety concerns demand your action. Ideally, you can find a way to communicate your concerns privately to the person and they will professionally learn the errors of their ways and correct them. However, it's very difficult to stop yourself from starting out "You idiot! What the $#%$# were you thinking?". That puts them on the defensive and the conversation goes nowhere. Unfortunately, my experience is that when you encounter this level of incompetence, polite conversation does not work either unless you have managerial control. If you don't have managerial control and feel uncomfortable discussing the issue directly with the person, it's ok to voice your concerns and a recommendation to the facility management.

That said, I get the impression that this is how Harald feels about PSIA.:
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Some people can't get it through their head that other people are actually capable of FOLLOWING the instructions. They think that when people are told to use full strength they will only use maybe 30 percent. These are the same people that give 110 percent

some people really are incapable of following the instructions... eg when told to stand/do quats/do lunges on a dynadisc they just have to be more hard core and go for the fitball
post #15 of 31
I can't even get up onto my stupid ball. I'm scared of heights which doesn't help, but I just can't get on it. Tried using stocks, but nope. One of those cut-off ones would be much easier and safer, undoubtedly. I imagine one would need a helmet if up on that darn ball. It's a LONG way down.
post #16 of 31
just lie, sit, kneel on it ant....

I could not sit on the damn thing to start with.... if you work up to it you will get there... standing is too dangerous... give up the standing.... the AIS folk go no further than kneeling with one foot on ball and other knee.... and that takes time to learn (I think nearly a year for me).... from there you increase the difficulty to stay there only (throwing/catching medicine balls)
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post

Furthermore, his students were gripping on to the railing at the top of the stairs as if their life depended upon it. Then I heard him say: Come on! Grip the ball as hard as you can with your toes! Just like you grip your toes to stay in balance when skiing!......okay:



Rant over!
Maybe a good way to practice sudden falling. Did they all have helmets on?

The whole idea of dry land training is to not get hurt.
post #18 of 31
Just thinking aloud about what would be functional for skiing: skis are actually pretty stable fore and aft, stand on a fairly stable surface (the snow), but are subject to catching or losing edges side to side; skiing also involves support of a lot of centrifugal force when turning and absorption (or not) of up & down forces through A&E or pumping.

Swiss balls cause you to be very unstable in all directions, don't allow for much cornering, and are even more unstable if you, say, jump on them to practice A&E. Not too functional for skiing imo.

Different types of plyometrics with bosu ball = functional for either A&E or "cornering" type training.

Inline skating = very functional for certain things, not for others due to the difference in fore/aft balance; as is MTB-ing with an emphasis on cornering drills as opposed to just pedalling.

Running around cones, playing soccer or basketball, also = functional due to "cornering" element.

Single-leg PT-type stuff and slideboards = functional for much the same reasons.

Weeble boards and similar "wobbly" surfaces? Really fun and really cool stuff, but I don't see the crossover as even in soft snow your skis don't wobble like that.

Slacklining: again, I don't see the crossover, as the balancing skills (keeping hips above feet with a minimum of sideways, fore-aft, or up/down movement) are so different from skiing.
post #19 of 31
fitballs - you do NOT have to stand on them to benefit.... and I was told quite emphatically NOT to.... the risk is not worth the benefit...

good exercises for skiing include
a) lying on back on floor feet on ball hips raised... bring knees towards chest on left side of body... extend... towards right...
b) similar but with feet on ball and in a push up position -arms extended...
c) side raises lying sideways on ball....

both a) and b) were the end result in a progression designed for me.... but were a big help... I miss the strength/balance that developed from the programs I had with the ball (and lots of jumping/catching/lunging stuff too)
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by disski View Post
fitballs - you do NOT have to stand on them to benefit.... and I was told quite emphatically NOT to.... the risk is not worth the benefit...

good exercises for skiing include
a) lying on back on floor feet on ball hips raised... bring knees towards chest on left side of body... extend... towards right...
b) similar but with feet on ball and in a push up position -arms extended...
c) side raises lying sideways on ball....

both a) and b) were the end result in a progression designed for me.... but were a big help... I miss the strength/balance that developed from the programs I had with the ball (and lots of jumping/catching/lunging stuff too)
Not sure how the exercises you decribe mimic the stresses of skiing. Good all-around exercises for the posterior chain, stomach, and side, yes, but so are sit-ups and good mornings. Functional balance training or, separate but related, functional strength training? I don't see it.
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post
Don't get me wrong. I am strongly in favor of progressive, functional balance training, but note my emphasis on porgressive and functional. One of the things I learned from Weems at the first Academy, was the difference between balancing and bracing. If an exercisies requires you to grip on to a railing and tense every muscle in your body in order to stay stable, it is no longer a balance exercise.

Unfortunately, once something becomes a fad, it ends up being misused by clueless trainers. The problem, as I see it, is that many people don't want to take the time to develop the basic balance skills, which are probably not as exciting as standing on a stability ball!
Hear, hear. Balance training is progressive, and standing on a stability ball is a very advanced skill after substantial progression. It's also somewhat injury-risky. Daron Rahlves does it. (He's often pictured holding a squat on top of a balance ball.) But he can also land on his feet after doing a backward somersault standing flat, and it wouldn't occur to most of the rest of us to immediately run out and try that with no other preparation (or explosive leg strength.)

I think balance training is very valuable for high level skiing, especially for those of us who live far from the mountains and thus don't get many days on the snow and have to make better use of dryland training. But trying to get beginners in balance training to stand on stability balls is insane, unless your brother in law is the local orthopedic surgeon and pays for referrals....
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
Just thinking aloud about what would be functional for skiing: skis are actually pretty stable fore and aft, stand on a fairly stable surface (the snow), but are subject to catching or losing edges side to side; skiing also involves support of a lot of centrifugal force when turning and absorption (or not) of up & down forces through A&E or pumping.
IMHO, there are a number of balance/core/recovery skills that are helpful, at least to ski racing, specifically 1) lateral balance, as sometimes you get into seriously funky positions as (for example) your outside ski breaks away and you fall onto the inside ski, and the better your lateral balance is, the better you can adjust and recover, using both skis (or the one that's still under you and tracking); 2) fore-and-aft balance, as you are more forward and more back at different phases of a slalom turn (or, like me, have to recover from having gotten too far back for optimal skiing.) There are some pretty exciting fore-and-aft challenges in skiing through cut up heavy snow on top of ice/hardpack, or late in the season when you hit that warm slush manmade snow glue while flying along.

One thing I find is that when I'm completely on one ski, I have trouble committing forward enough for optimal turning. Even so, skiing from time to time only on one ski (making turns in both directions) is a great balance training exercise on snow (as long as you're doing it where the hill is sufficiently flat.)

My thoughts about other important aspects of balance that relate to skiing are (1) you have to balance while resisting a load (Ron LeMaster says that when a racer goes from 60 degree inclination to 70 degree inclination, he is managing 3 Gs of force instead of 2 Gs. For a 180 lb skier, that means bearing a load of 540 lbs, briefly, about 80% or more just on the slightly flexed outside leg); (2) your most important balance challenges are when your legs are tired--whether that's at the end of the race or the end of the day, that's when you can get hurt; (3) there is a dynamic (rather than static) aspect to skiing's balance challenges, as you get more or less resistance and you get bounced around, all while trying to balance; (4) many of the balance challenges against a load involve eccentric resistance (not the pushing up phase of a squat, the sinking down phase); and (5) (at least for ski racers) some of the balance and combined load/balance challenges occur when you have a very deeply flexed inside knee.

So I try to do a lot of my weightlifting for my legs with a balance component (squat rack instead of smith machine or leg press; walking lunges, lifting the back leg to hold it up and briefly pausing while standing on the other leg before lunging forward again; step ups with the left leg, then raise the right knee to make my right thigh parallel to the floor, standing on the left leg only.) And I do some excercises with a balance component at the end of the workout, when my legs are already tired. (Tucks and haybalers on a bosu, flat side up.) Balance challenges are also nice for recovery phases between heavy lifts, keeping your heart rate up. (Juggling while kneeling on a fitball or standing on a foam roller.) Sometimes to get the most out of a workout, with the least recovery time, I alternate a heavy leg exercise with an upper body exercise, with a balance challenge.

There are a lot of ways to mimic the adjustment to outside forces/dynamic aspect, I think, including by tossing a medicine ball from hand to hand while balancing, having someone toss you a medicine ball while balancing, or even holding a dog toy between your bare toes and playing tug with a small dog, while standing on your other foot. (Or you can combine this--stand on a bongo board tossing a medicine ball from hand to hand while said small dog jumps up on you to get at the ball....)

IMHO, some of the best ways to train balance eccentricly is through plyometrics--jumping exercises, where the biggest challenge is to absorb the forces at landing and then explode back up again. (Although squats and especially lunges also have an eccentric component.) I do a lot of side to side skier hops--jump right, landing only only on your right foot (keeping the other above the ground), then jump to the left, landing on your left foot and repeat. I also jump over a long broom handle balanced on the corner of a low table and a cone for a combined jumping/landing/leg retraction/agility drill--at every landing, I have to gather myself to accurately jump to clear the broom handle and land not too close but not too far on the other side. (The number of times you can consistently clear it is also a nice marker for fitness/training level/agility as the season progresses...)

Finally, I think the deeply flexed knee issue is worth some thought, at least for ski racers. That's why I do deep squats on a flat surface, and deep sumo squats on a bongo board, and haybalers on a bosu (flat side up) or bongo board with a medicine ball, taking it from low outside my left ankle (with deeply flexed and angulated knees) to high above and outside my right shoulder (with straight legs.) That seems to mimic the balance and load challenge with flexed and angulated knees, like a slalom race.

Anyway, those are my eccentric thoughts on eccentric balance training with a crossover to skiing.
post #23 of 31
Thread Starter 
SF Dean: You seriously need to consider a second career as a trainer! You are far more clueful and articulate than many of the trainers out there!
post #24 of 31
I'd like to try it though! Maybe with a bunch of aggressive spotters standing around and me in pads. I do think it would be a good mimic, centered, low and moving.

The slackline sounds like fun too. I have never seen one but I assume the line is slack so you stand in a "v". Why now a tight rope?
post #25 of 31
Actually I'll bet the trainner that lisamarie witnessed picked up the stand -on-ball training from watching a recent Fit TV episode where Laird Hamilton (hope I spelled his name correctly) the Hawaiian big wave surfing god demonstrated his "functional" training techniques. He would from standing position jump upon the ball with ease and balance. For added difficulty, he would jump up holding dumbells. Of course he went on demonstrating cutting down a tree to strap the trunk on a rope and haul that thing around in deep sand for a good leg work out. He would also add a 45 pound barbell plate to his mountain bike and cycle his way up a cat 1 switch back.

Sure I'd try this if I had the big money sponsorship he has as well as the doctors around to put me back together again.
post #26 of 31
You are all talking about the balance on the ball or pressure on the ball but
when the instructor said (grip the ball as hard as you can with your toes), it was obvious either he wasn't a skier or he wasn't set up properly in his
skiboots. You shouldn't be using your toes for balance when you are set up
with a proper footbed and correct canting on the boots. If you have to use your toes, you have a deficiency in your position in the boot and are using
your toes for support.
post #27 of 31
One of the more common buzzwords in the fitness industry is "fuctional": in that the activity relates back to the intended results. The National Strength & Conditioning Assoc. terms this 'Sport Specific' training.

What is lost on most trainers & esp. students (w or w/o a trainer) is that you need to have a basal level of conditioning, approp. muscle balances, & good technique to progress & challenge the human body in a safer manner.

Sounds like the gym needs a better trainer.
post #28 of 31
I saw a good friend of mine who is a high level ski racer and skilled at standing on a swiss ball put himself out of comission for a month by falling off of the swiss ball at the gym. It blows me away to watch trainers and ski coaches doing things like this without considering the consequences. I'm a big fan of stupid human tricks for improving core strength and balance, but there are lots of ones that are pretty safe, unicycling and slacklining for instance. (or at least using a harness on the swiss ball).
Have fun.
post #29 of 31
I like balancing on top of the ball on my shins. Doesn't seem real dangerous and provides a decent core balance challenge - both fore/aft and lateral.

Place one leg/shin and both hands on the ball and then mount the ball with the other leg/shin and raise up in one smooth motion. When first learning this, you can keep both hands on top of the ball to help balance instead of lifting your hands as the second leg/shin goes up.
post #30 of 31
heh heh ... I also kneel on physio balls as my "stupid human/core workout" ... the first time I tried I flew off backwards (somersaulted) and landed on my stomach/shoulder. luckily I was on the padded mat. the trainer I was with almost died, but then laughed and said "I feel better now". I asked why and she replied "I can see you know how to fall". I guess years of volleyball were good for something.

I saw a guy at the gym who can get on the ball while holding a medicine ball and then he throws and catches it while kneeling. Someday I hope to be able to do that.

Stand on the ball? Yeah right -- that's just stupid!
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