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Fore/aft alignment test results

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
As I've long suspected a problem with fore/aft alignment (believing my boots kept me in the back seat) I was intrigued when trawling through old threads here to find a test mentioned a couple of times, by Ydnar and Bob Barnes. I did this test and wanted to report the results, in the hope that one of these guys, or someone else knowledgeable in this area, could interpret them.

This is the test, as described by Ydnar:

Quote:
"First, measure the distance from the base of the ski to the top surface of the binding at both the toe and the heel. On most bindings the heel height will be a little greater than the toe height. Next have the victum put on their ski boots and buckle them as if for skiing. Place some kind of lift under the heel of their boots so that they are at the same angle as they would be in the ski. Now have them squat all the way down so that their knees are flexed to the max. If they can't get all the way down without falling backwards then that is an indication that they are misaligned aft. If they can get all the way down and still resist a push backward then they are probably aligned a bit too far forward. Ideal alignment seems to go with being able to squat all the way down and bring your arms into your chest. Those with the best (read strongest as per FastMan) stance on their skis can maintain this position but are very easy to push over backwards."
OK, I did this and could not get even most of the way down without falling over backwards. So I tried increasing the lift under the boot heel (effectively increasing the delta angle), by adding a couple more magazines. In fact it took around 10mm before I was tilted forward enough to be able to complete the test without falling over. Even then I was in a position where the slightest push from in front would have toppled me.

So, as I have thin calves, I decided to try the Bob Barnes expedient of sticking things down the back of the boot. I removed the 10mm of magazines from under the heel, and started putting card between the liner and cuff. With the best part of 8-10mm of card I was now able to squat down without toppling, but only just.

Such gross anomalies are rather worrying, and tend to give substance to my suspicion that my equipment is not allowing me to get centred without a hell of a fight. But what does this tell me, what should I do next? Is the test an accurate one? Is my forward lean really that insufficient and will the padding between liner and cuff solve that adequately? I take it there is no way I can usefully increase the delta angle anything like as much as would appear necessary.

Someone help me out of this mire!

J2R
post #2 of 23
Do you have adjustable forward lean? If so, at what relative setting is it?
post #3 of 23
Don't get mad for me posting this.

How is your balance normally?

Have you ever done any balance drills with a wobble board?

It is not always easy to balance fore/aft unless you have good balance and practice.

You throw a stiff piece of plastic in the mix to lock your ankle and it makes it even worse.
post #4 of 23
J2R its more complicated than what has been suggested. What has been suggested is only a starting point. Increasing forward lean is ok unless you have a limited range of motion in you're ankles. With a limited range of motion the fix is heel lifts inside the boot not forward lean. There are other things that can complicate the issues and a true boot/ski alignment is really the best fix. You can also be in the wrong boots for you. There are good alignment boots and bad alignment boots. A good boot for one skier can be bad for another.
post #5 of 23
J2R, with all your posts on these boots, I still think your best bet is to follow Pierre's (and my!) advice and find a PSIA level III or equivalent instructor and/or a boot alignment specialist.
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by ssh:
Do you have adjustable forward lean? If so, at what relative setting is it?
No, I have no such setting, alas.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Scalce:
Don't get mad for me posting this.

How is your balance normally?

Have you ever done any balance drills with a wobble board?

It is not always easy to balance fore/aft unless you have good balance and practice.
My balance is actually pretty good - I have been doing balance drills with a wobble board for some time.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
You can also be in the wrong boots for you. There are good alignment boots and bad alignment boots. A good boot for one skier can be bad for another.
Which gets me back to a post in another thread, to do with the modifiability of boots. Once I've modified the flex, forward lean, ramp angle, and canting of these boots, what's the difference between them and some others in terms of alignment?

J2R
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by ssh:
J2R, with all your posts on these boots, I still think your best bet is to follow Pierre's (and my!) advice and find a PSIA level III or equivalent instructor and/or a boot alignment specialist.
I don't dispute this for a moment, and if I could, I definitely would. But it's easier said than done! I live in Britain and only get a chance to see ski equipment specialists when on a ski holiday. I've just come back from Fernie, BC, where I spent a considerable time with a bootfitters (Top Shelf, in Timberline - they're just starting up but seem extremely competent), who reckoned the first major thing to do was to soften the flex, which they did. Unfortunately I ran out of time to do that much more before returning to Britain. Next trip out will be to some European resort and the EpicSki directory of bootfitters is extremely sparse outside North America.

So, I really need to find out what I can by myself, away from the snow, with the help of the assembled expertise on this forum, hence my persistence. Next time I'm in the US, in striking distance of one of the recommended boot experts, I'll be certain to go there. Until then, I'm on my own.

J2R
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
I forgot to mention that when I attempted the test with the cuff buckles and power strap undone, I was able to get down low very easily. This may be relevant.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by J2R:
I forgot to mention that when I attempted the test with the cuff buckles and power strap undone, I was able to get down low very easily. This may be relevant.
This is very relevant.

It sounds like your boots are too stiff, too Upright or not fit right.

What boots do you have? (make and model)

Try putting on your boots and loosening your second buckle (makes the boot a little less stiff). Set your power strap loose maybe 3-4 mm of space and try again.

If this helps then put your shims in behind your calf and see what happens. Try the test again.

Then give us more feedback.
post #12 of 23
It's relevant because we know that it's not your inflexibility making this happen. Do you do squats in the gym? I find that really helps balance a lot.

But in reality, low squats are not needed, and can cause more damage than they are worth if you go too low. That damage being due to the excessive pressure on the back of the meniscus.

Back on topic, here's a link that shows different fore and aft alignments:

http://www.gmolfoot.com/balance.htm

Which one are you?
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by dchan:
It sounds like your boots are too stiff, too Upright or not fit right. What boots do you have? (make and model)
The boots are Nordica Grand Prix ST - a stiff boot certainly, but the flex has been softened recently, as I mentioned. They do seem very upright, at least the way I stand in them. My girlfriend has Salomon Evolution 8.0 boots, and her shins are much further from the vertical in her relaxed stance than mine are, although I'm much more spindly in the legs relative to my height, which must make a difference).

Quote:

Try putting on your boots and loosening your second buckle (makes the boot a little less stiff).
Which is the second buckle? There are four, two on the foot area, two on the calf area.

Thanks for the feedback.

J2R
post #14 of 23
He probably means the second from the top buckle.

If you have good balance and can do squats there is definately a fit issue.

I should try that drill later tonight.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BigE:
It's relevant because we know that it's not your inflexibility making this happen. Do you do squats in the gym? I find that really helps balance a lot.
...Back on topic, here's a link that shows different fore and aft alignments:

http://www.gmolfoot.com/balance.htm

Which one are you?
Closes to the 'Back-Seat', but not quite so exaggerated.

I've put a tiny poor quality video clip of me skiing past on a green run at:

http://www.jadiem.nildram.co.uk/ski/mini.avi

This shows my too-far-back alignment, I reckon.

J2R
post #16 of 23
Apparently, some on the PMTS forum claim the Grand Prix boots are simply too upright. I suppose one could grind the front cuff where it pushes up against the lower shell? But then what happens at the rear? I'm no expert but I've heard such things could be done. both top buckles could be loosed a notch, but when you do loosen buckles, lateral stiffness suffers - the boot feels sloppy.

I'd think it might be easiest to get another pair of boots. At some point, the modifications must become more costly than new.... FWIW, some rate the Head WC highly for having a very natural forward lean.

The skiing is not that bad, but I can see that steeper slopes could become an issue.
post #17 of 23
Get rid of the back pack! that's extra weight in back and if it's not real tight to your back with all the compression straps tight, it's not a "fixed" weight that moves with you. Ever try to balance water?

Since balance is dynamic, anything attached to you that is allowed to move at all will affect your balance.

Just a thought.

DC
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BigE:
Apparently, some on the PMTS forum claim the Grand Prix boots are simply too upright....I'd think it might be easiest to get another pair of boots. At some point, the modifications must become more costly than new.... FWIW, some rate the Head WC highly for having a very natural forward lean.
I wish there was a published forward lean angle for boots, it would make things a lot less subjective. In fact, my aim is to get another pair of boots - I'm just hoping to determine once and for all if it's my boots which are the problem, not my technique. I don't intend to use the boots long term with all the various bits of cardboard stuffed here and there, it's more of a learning exercise.

As regards the Head WorldCup, I know Harald Harb skis in them. Don't you think they'd be rather above my level?

J2R
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by dchan:
Get rid of the back pack! that's extra weight in back and if it's not real tight to your back with all the compression straps tight, it's not a "fixed" weight that moves with you. Ever try to balance water?
It's a good point. In fact I did do some skiing later on without the pack, suspecting it might be screwing my balance up, but it turned out not to make a really perceptible difference. The bag, in fact, just had some extra lightweight clothing in, nothing too heavy. The temperature was around -18C (0F) which is colder than I was used to (although pretty temperate for Fernie, I suspect).

J2R
post #20 of 23
With temp's like that you have to also be aware that the boot is going to be a whole lot stiffer.

DC
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally posted by J2R:

As regards the Head WorldCup, I know Harald Harb skis in them. Don't you think they'd be rather above my level?
My apologies, you are probably right, I forgot that you had the GP softened. Have you surfed this site?

http://www.bootfitters.com/

They have a "who it fits" table, that suggests certain models wrt foot volume, sorted by demographic - race, all mtn, etc... The stance column indicates knock kneed with the symbol: )(

This means that the cuff has more movement to the outside. Bowlegs is () so the cuff can move to the inside. This is under the theory that you can align knee tracking with cuff alignment, so knock knees would be forced outwards by cuff adjustment. I'm unsure if that is a "good thing", given what I've read elsewhere on the net.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by dchan:
With temp's like that you have to also be aware that the boot is going to be a whole lot stiffer.
You know, I hadn't considered that for a moment, but it's bound to, isn't it? Would that affect the way it flexes, or just the ease of getting it on and off?

J2R
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BigE:
My apologies, you are probably right, I forgot that you had the GP softened. Have you surfed this site?

http://www.bootfitters.com/
Harald Harb's take on boots is that stiffness per se is not a problem:

"My philosophy is, stiff boots hold me where I want to stand. If boot geometry is right and you like what it does you are lucky. Not many boots in the shops today can claim to provide ideal geometry. Most rely on the flex of the boot to bring you to where you want to stand. Which means of course you are always pushing on the boot to get in balance. I ski boots that allow me to stand naturally without having to re-adjust my stance by constantly flexing."

Bob Barnes has spoken out in favour of stiff boots on this forum as well. Consensus still seems to be that they're not great for intermediates, though.

Thanks for the URL, I had checked it out - good to see a resource like this on the web which is freely available.

J2R
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