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Assessing and correcting fore/aft alignment

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
The topic on ski instruction for women has raised the commonly discussed issue of fore/aft alignment. I would be very interested in hearing people's undestanding of methods for assessing and setting up fore/aft alignment. I will say right off the bat that I am quite skeptical of any static or cook book approach to this issue. For example, consider the use of heel lifts to shift the center of mass forward. (Note, I do, however, think that internal heel lifts "open" up the ankle joint providing for increased flexion range). The reason for this skepticism is based on reading, experience, the experience of others (whom I consider to be quite expert), and experimentation.

Let me tell you about the "experiment" we did. We took our family of four (all competent and experienced skiers), had them stand on a platform in their ski boots, and determined where they had to stand to be balnced (fore/aft) on the platform (equal weighting on the front and back of the platform). We did this using a range of heel lifts while asking the subject to stand in a relaxed ski position. What we found was that for two of us (1 male and 1 female) the center of mass moved forward as the heel lift increased. However for the other 2 (1 male and 1 female) the CM moved back as the heel lift increased. Obviously, heel lift affects a person's posture these results imply that changes in posture may more than compensate for any forward angel induced. Now we certainly had to deal with a reasonable amount of experimental error, especially as we just asked the subjects to assume a natural/comfortable skiing position (on flat terrain - our basement floor). But we did perform many repeated measures and the results were consistent for each individual. I have also seen correlates of these results on the slopes where heel lifts actually seem to move a person back in their stance.

Thus, I am convinced that a general approach to fore/aft positioning is even more difficult than lateral positioning and probably even more dependent upon on-hill testing and evaluation.
post #2 of 84

See the Gear thread on Boot Paradigm for women

post #3 of 84
Thread Starter 
Thanks Gashw, I saw that post. Those are nice anecdotes but don't describe any kind of assessment procedure. What I am pointing out is that one or even a dozen anecdotes doesn't necessarily define a useful procedure. What I'd like to hear is how people approach an assessment and correction of fore/aft alignment. For example, when would you consider internal vs. external heel lifts? What type of external (to the boot) fore/aft canting materials or approach do you use? How do you decide the proper mix of cuff and ramp angle? How accurately can you predict fore/aft ramping needs through an assessment given the variable postural response I am referring to? Does it take a purely empirical/iterative approach to really identify optimal fore/aft alignment?

I think that this is really an area ripe for development through experimentation and on-hill testing. I also think (as do many others) it is an area that has a great deal to offer in terms of relatively dramatic skier improvements in many cases. What I don't see is simple on-slope methods for ramp angle adjustment like we have for lateral alignment with alignment strips. I have used bilateral alignemnt strips under the heal but the amount of lift you can add in this way is very limited given the distance you would really like to lift the boot heal and the pretension it applies to the rear binding.

I hope I will hear from others on this.
post #4 of 84
Hi Si--I see you registered a couple weeks ago, but welcome to EpicSki! Are you the "Si" who posts on SkiLovers.com?

Good post, and a great topic. Fore-aft balance and fore-aft alignment are critical, if often overlooked and misunderstood, aspects of skiing. Unfortunately, I see we now have at least three simultaneous discussions going on essentially about the same thing. Alas!

I like your experiment, but I think you are right that there are some possible experimental errors. The most obvious, as you suggested, is that it always takes a while to adapt to any change in equipment setup. Tilting the boots, or the boot cuffs, forward or back only moves the skier's balance point if the skier makes no compensating stance adjustments.

Internal heel lifts affect lower leg angle only if they raise the leg and the calf muscle up to where the boot closes around a narrower part of the leg. That calf muscle, stuffed down in the cuff of the boot, has the same effect as a shim--it increases forward lean. You're right, too, that internal heel lifts "open" the ankle slightly. Especially for those with tight achilles' tendons or limited ankle flexibility (quite common), opening the ankles can create some much-needed range of motion.

Anyway, I'd like to dispel the myth that simply changing forward lean, or adjusting internal heel lift, necessarily alters the skier's balance point (fore-and-aft). If you tilt the skier's boots forward, and the skier makes no compensating movements, then of course, he will move forward. But the reality is that most skiers DO compensate, and those compensating movements are the signs of boot misalignment.

(I'm going to attempt a new thing here--I've never tried to link to an image on the Net before, so please be patient if it doesn't work.) Here goes....

If that worked, you should see three stick figures, illustrating three skiers all in balance over the same point. Skier A's boots are too upright, forcing him/her to compensate by moving the upper body forward. Skier C's boots are too forward, causing a very upright upper body to compensate. Skier B's equipment is well-set-up, allowing a natural, functional stance. Notice the roughly parallel angles of the spine and lower legs in Skier B vs. the other two skiers. (One assumption of this illustration is that the ankles cannot flex in rigid ski boots, which is not entirely true. But the stiffer the boot, the more relevant the illustration.)

These skiers are all in their "neutral" stance--the basic, balanced, relaxed stance from which athletic skiing movements begin. When they begin to flex and extend through the normal skiing range, the shortcomings of the misalignment in "A" and "C" will become even more obvious.

These images represent a range of stances that we see all the time on the hill. Recognizing these signs is one very good start to assessing and correcting alignment problems.

I'll leave it here, and see if my illustration even appears....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

Edit--Hey, cool--it worked!
post #5 of 84
Thread Starter 
Hello Bob, That's me, Skilover's Si.

Your illustration demonstrates an aspect of the postural issues I am talking about although I don't think cuff angle totally dictates posture. Clearly there are some skiers who, even when the cuff angle is set up for a reasonably balanced stance will tend to have their weight (CM) either back or forward of center. This problem raises another complexity in that there is not only the position of the CM to consider but also the torque produced on the ski by leaning into the tongue or back against the cuff of the boot. Of course further complexity is encountered when trying to determine the interaction between cuff and ramp angle as they may produce different postural responses.

I might anecdotally add that I personally had great success with adding internal heal lifts, although I don't think such success is usually so readily attained. The difference in my skiing was immediately obvious to myself and others (Harald, Diana, and the other camp participants I skied with) at Copper last year. Concomitantly, I could readily feel the repositioning of my balance point forward under the center of my boot. I would love to be able to play around with my ramping external to my boot and see how it interacts with internal heel lift. At this point, though, I don't know of a good way to do this on a temporary basis.

BTW, I did refer to meeting you in my post under Injury and Skiing
post #6 of 84

Just a short note here I'll have more to say on this when I have more time.

I do use a static squat test to give me someplace to start from and an idea as to how much correction a person might need. I like this test because it seems to somehow take in all the variables involved in fore/aft alignment and it has proven out in real situations. Where things get complicated is deciding how to apply correction. Inside the boot, outside the boot, stand the boot cuff up straighter, cut the foot and ankle off and go with a stainless steel hinge etc.

When we have snow here is something to try. On a easy green do a spin on the snow. Start with a straight run and then quickly bring the ski tips up and around to point up the hill then back down again. To say the least this is a skidded manauver. Which is harder to perform the first half of the spin or the second half? Difficulty in the first half of the spin seems to indicate a imbalance to the rear, difficulty with the second half of the spin usually means that the skier is to forward. Again this just gives me a place to start from and the an idea as to how much correction might be necessary. It also works best with someone who has never tried the manauver, if they have practiced spinning then they learn to compinsate for their stance it takes a real good eye to see the differences in the two halves.

Another reason that I like these two way of assesing fore/aft is that after watching someone ski for a couple runs I can predict for them what they will experience and this does great things for my credibility in their eyes.

More later,
post #7 of 84
Bob makes a very good point here (why am I not surprised? ).

I would also say that it may be a mistake to correct posture issues (i.e. back seat drivers) with heel lifts and ramp angles, unless you do it for an accomplished skier or somebody with skeletal issues (such as bad back, heavy lower body or inflexible ankles). In my experience most skiers lean back because of fear and/or habit. Lift their heels (or tilt their boot cuffs) and they will often lean back even more, since the fear/habit has not been eliminated.

I am not saying that for-aft balance is not a critical part of alignment, but I would argue that most skiers can achieve proper for-aft balance by learning how to ski in a neutral stance, "stacked" for minimal effort. When that is achieved and well understood, skiers can experiment with angles, because only then will they be able to feel the difference and decide on the best solution.
post #8 of 84
OK, a procedure. Let's assume that equal pressure across the ball and heel of the foot is the most balanced and pro/reactive position for the foot to be in (the stretch reflex). We need to determine this and the companion shin and ankle bone angles.

The simplest way of doing this is to take normal walking steps. The lower limb position, just before the rear foot's heel leaves the ground, serves as a good baseline measure of the individual's stretch reflex.

Position the foot back in the closed boot shell (sans liner but with the footbed pushed back as far as it can go) and recreate the angles from the previous exercise. In a perfect world the lower leg should sit dead centre. In most cases, the back of the shell is pushing into the calf. Adjust the cant and/or add heel lift until the desired effect is achieved. Ski.

It's just a method, but how many times do you see lift added because of a lack of ankle flexibility? Yes, it alleviates the symptoms but it doesn't treat the problem. Again, in an ideal world, we'd spend more time building up the strength and flexibility of the joint. Everyone's in a hurry... [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Bob's diagram doesn't work for me. First of all skiing is fluid and dynamic with constant stance adjustment to achieve a desired response from the ski. Second, the hill is slanted. How does that affect position?

Maybe I've missed the boat on this one and the middle stance is "goal" in all circumstances. I don't know. All I am sure of is it's not me. Besides my butt's bigger than that stick figure's...

post #9 of 84
Question: How are toe specific mounted bindings effecting the fore and aft balance, especialy if you have a long bootsole, say more than 325 mm.?
post #10 of 84
Hi Gashw--

One legitimate reason for internal heel lifts IS to increase the range of motion in ankles that are not sufficiently flexible. According to top bootfitters that I know, this is actually quite a common situation.

Whether due to tight achilles tendons, perhaps an ankle injury, or some other cause, many skiers lack the flexiblity in their ankles to bend them ("dorsiflex") sufficiently for athletic skiing. Apparently, it is not uncommon to find people who cannot even buckle up a ski boot with their heel on the footbed, because their ankles lack flexibility.

One typical cause of inflexible ankles is injury--even a very old injury--from landing a jump hard. We've all done that as kids, I suspect--I used to jump from the roof of our house onto the grass! The permanent injury that can result may not affect normal activities like walking and running. But it can prevent the acute ankle angles some ski boots require. Here, heel lifts inside the boots can help!

As for the diagram, as I explained, it illustrates the "neutral" stance. This could be described as the "starting point" for athletic movement. You are quite right that it is not a static position. "Neutral" is a stance we flow through, but rarely stop in, at least when linking turns. It is, though, the way we stand on a typical, relaxed straight run. And no, it really doesn't change appreciably with the hill angle--just take the whole picture and tilt it, if you like. (I can see people now, tipping their monitors.... : )

Anyway, you are right that it is the movements of "real skiing" that really matter. And like I said, these movements amplify the effects of misalignment. Imagine Skier A from the illustration deeply flexing, as when absorbing a big mogul. The ankles cannot bend much, due to stiff boots. So what happens? The knees bend deeply, moving the hips even farther back, and exacerbating the need to stretch the upper body forward. Many skiers with this misalignment problem simply cannot flex like this without losing their balance to the rear.

But of course, "A" could straighten his knees and stand very tall, which would move his hips forward and allow him to relax his upper body. The spine/shin lines would then be parallel, but the stance would be too tall for true athletic activity.

Skier C, on the other hand, could probably flex very low without any difficulty. Skiers like this can usually bend right down until their butts hit their boots, while remaining centered overall. But Skier C would have difficulty EXTENDING. If he straightens at the knees and stands tall, he'll be way too far forward. So "C" has difficulty attaining a relaxed, taller stance. This is a tradeoff that may be worth it for some skiers. Some racers dial up forward lean to enable them to flex more freely. Think about it--"C" could attain the parallel angles of shins and spine of "B" by bending his knees a little more, thus moving his hips back, and allowing him to tip his upper body to a more athletic posture. But I wouldn't want to ski all day in a muscular crouch like that.

Skier B is somewhere in between. His boots put his lower legs in just the right attitude to allow a natural, medium-tall stance that exploits skeletal, rather than muscular, strength. He can move freely from this "home base" neutral stance with a wide range of motion.

With these things in mind, here's one good test that many bootfitters use. It's at least a good starting point. With boots on and buckled, stand on a hard, level floor. Now, slowly, flex lower and lower, doing whatever you can to maintain fore-aft balance (stretch your arms forward, for example), until you start to lose your balance to the rear.

How low did you get? If you can't get your thighs to AT LEAST horizontal--and many skiers, especially women, can't--you may benefit from more forward lean. If you can drop all the way down without even needing to stretch your arms forward, you might have more forward lean than you need.

Find something a half inch or so thick--a piece of wood, or a ski pole will do. Try the same exercise now with either your boot heels or your boot toes elevated on the object, tilting the entire boots forward or back. The effect is dramatic! If you couldn't flex deeply before, elevating your heels (thus increasing the forward angle of your shins) will quickly fix the problem. And if you could, elevating your toes may allow you to stand in a somewhat more relaxed stance while still providing sufficient range of motion.

Now what should you do? You could put lifts under your binding heels or toes to produce the same effect. Or you could adjust the forward lean of your boot cuffs--or install shims inside non-adjustable cuffs. I use trail maps as temporary but highly effective shims to help people dial in their boots. Again, the difference on the snow can be dramatic! (Remember, of course, that inflexible ankles may not even allow increased forward cuff angle unless INTERNAL heel lifts are also added!)

In summary, I reiterate Gashw's point that the only real test of alignment is the real world of real skiing movements. Adjustments made in the shop are only the starting point. Fill your pockets with trail maps, and go out and make some turns. Experiment!

Remember too, though, that any change, even for the better, will probably feel worse at first. If it's a significant change, it will take some getting used to. Here is where a good instructor can help a lot, watching the results with a trained eye.

Everyone is different. Personally, with my skinny calves, long femurs, and light upper body, I tend to be in the "A" range without boot adjustment. I need to dial up the forward lean of my boots, and usually also install shims in the back (to take the place of where my calf muscle ought to be!).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #11 of 84
Thread Starter 
Tom B, I agree that many skiers may have poor fore/aft alignment arising from other than anatomical, antropometric, joint range, and strength issues. This is another reason it takes some expertise to evaluate fore/aft alignment. However, I strongly disagree that you should not consider it for other than "an accomplished skier or somebody with skeletal issues (such as bad back, heavy lower body or inflexible ankles)." If people follow this advise we are likely to relegate many beginner and intermediate skiers to a much longer and more difficult learning process than needs to be the case. Proper fore/aft alignment can make a huge difference in how easy it is to learn to ski well. Let's not save it for accomplished skiers. (Of course, on the other hand, let's not try to fix a habit of leaning back based on fear and other perceptions with ramps and lifts).

Bob, in terms of interventions mentioned in your posts you seem to emphasize forward lean/cuff angle as opposed to ramp angle. I appreciate that forward lean is usually more readily adjusted and, as you've talked about, can even be done with shims on-slope when the boot doesn't have appropriate adjustments. However, increasing (decreasing) forward lean produces somewhat different results than increasing (decreasing) ramp angle. Increased forward lean is much more prone to result in more of a crouched position than may be most efficient and effective. I would be very intereted to learn more about your and other's experiences with ramp angle. Unfortunately I suspect there may not be much experience out there. One of the goals of my post, in fact, is to learn how people work with ramp angle as it is not an easy parameter to change on the hill. I think we could help an awful lot of skiers by developing more easy to use and dependable methods for this purpose.
post #12 of 84
Hi Si--

I don't necessarily recommend cuff angle as opposed to ramp angle adjustments. The key, as far as these fore-aft issues goes, is to adjust LOWER LEG angle, which can be accomplished either by adjusting cuff angle or by tilting the ENTIRE BOOT forward. The latter affects both ramp angle and cuff angle, of course. A simple change of ramp angle within the boot does NOT affect lower leg angle (except as it elevates a large calf muscle out of the boot, with the effect of making the legs more upright, as discussed).

Either elevating the boot heel (tilting the boot forward), or increasing cuff forward lean (or shimming the back of the cuff--same thing), has the same effect in this fore-aft regard. Cuff angle is easier to play with on the hill, as I mentioned, by stuffing trail maps in the front or back. You can also play with ramp angle to a small degree with strips of duct tape, or even little pieces of folded paper, on your heel- or toe-pieces.

Either of these solutions causes the same effect as far as "crouching" is concerned. Increasing forward lean with cuff angle alone will not work with some people if ankle inflexibility prevents the acute "dorsiflexion" it forces the foot into. (Look at skier "C" in my illustration--few skiers' ankles could form this angle without elevating the heels as well.)

DISCLAIMER--I must point out that playing around with your bindings like this could affect their release/retention ability. Some ski schools forbid instructors from doing these things with their students. It can be a worthwhile experiment, but as with anything, be aware of the potential risks!

I'm going to post another illustration, with a lot more detail. This one is still a work in progress, but perhaps it will help:

Again, the primary reason why all this is an issue is the relative "locking" of the ankles and feet on skis. In "normal" activities, the ankles can flex, to a degree, and the heels can lift off the ground. Both of these things occur when we bend down off skis (figure 9). But on skis, we need to learn entirely new combinations of movements of feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine, and arms in order to flex and extend independently of fore-aft balance.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

Edit: Hm-m-m--the image came out much smaller than it should have. Sorry the text isn't legible, but essentially, it just repeats what we have discussed here. Figures 9 and 10, in particular, illustrate the differences between flexing low with (10) and without (9) skis. 3 and 4 are similar to "A" and "C" in the previous illustration. 1 and 2 illustrate the range of motion typical of skiing, with movements that maintain fore-aft balance.
post #13 of 84

I've been playing with this fore/aft thing for a couple seasons now in a very serious way and have come to the conclusion that ramp angle is more important than cuff angle. This goes against the bulk of thinking in PSIA circles right now where heel lifts are often reccomended as a way to make a boot fit better with no consideration given to how this will effect the stance of the skier. Whats unfortunate is that any but the smallest adjustments do require a quick stop in the lodge to remove boots and add or remove a heel lift. This is only a ten minuet stop but at todays private rates many students are reluctant to give up that time. Personally, I always address ramp angle before cuff angle


I have to strongly dissagree with you that changing ramp doesn't affect the shaft angle of the tib/fib. It has changed the angle in every case I can think of where I have added or removed a lift. True that the stiffness of the boot affects the degree of this effect andl yes, we have later modified the boot to allow an even greater correction to take place but there is always an observed change (to my eye) when the ramp angle is changed. Even the stiffest of boots allow some degree of fore/aft (dorsi/planar) flex in the ankle and it is change in this flex that determins change in the tib/fib angle.

Again, I'm pressed for time and have to make this short. More later (lots more!!!!)
post #14 of 84
Hi Ydnar--

It should be pretty clear that adding a heel lift inside a boot does not in any way affect the angle of the boot shaft/cuff. However, as I've allowed, that heel lift DOES provide increased ankle movement for those with limited range, by opening the ankle slightly. If inflexible ankles is the problem that prevents sufficient forward lean of the lower legs, then yes, internal heel lifts (increased ramp angle) could be the solution.

In order to actually increase forward lean with heel lifts, though, remember that shims inside the back of the boot cuff will probably also be required, to compensate for the skinnier portion of the leg that the boot now closes around. Without shims, the cuffs will make the legs more upright than before--if they can even be closed snuggly around the leg at all.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #15 of 84
Thread Starter 
Let me start out with a suggestion of definitions to minimize confusion. If these aren't acceptable let me know.

Heel lift - lift placed under the heel internal to the boot.
Ramp angle - the angle formed by the outside bottom of the boot and the ski.
Cuff angle: the angle between the cuff and bottom of the boot.

Bob, you said, "Either elevating the boot heel (tilting the boot forward), or increasing cuff forward lean (or shimming the back of the cuff--same thing), has the same effect in this fore-aft regard." I understood "this regard" as referring to adjustment of lower leg angle. I don't think this is true. Changing the cuff angle absolutely changes (at least when reducing it by bringing the cuff forward) the angle of the ankle joint. Changing ramp angle may do so but not necessarily so, depending on the postural response of the skier. I believe that an important consequence of this fact is that one may produce very different postural responses with these two approaches. I would be very interested to hear what people have observed in this regard.

Ydnar, I'm glad this is an area of interest and investigation for you. I look forward to your more detailed comments.
post #16 of 84
Hi Si--

I think you'll find that your definitions conflict with a lot of common use.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Heel lift - lift placed under the heel internal to the boot. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This one's all right.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Ramp angle - the angle formed by the outside bottom of the boot and the ski. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Not necessarily. Different boots have different ramp angles built into them. "Ramp angle" better refers to the actual angle of the sole of the foot, in relation to the ski base. It is a combination of internal features, including heel lifts and footbed and boot design, and external features, including the angle of the boot sole that you described, affected mostly by bindings and plates beneath bindings.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Cuff angle: the angle between the cuff and bottom of the boot.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As with "ramp angle," what is critical is the actual angle of the boot shaft in relation to the ski, not just the bottom of the boot. Tilting the entire boot forward would increase cuff angle (aka "forward lean"), but would not change the angle of the cuff to the bottom of the boot. Cuff angle can also be increased, as you say, by changing the position of the cuff in relation to the rest of the boot. But it is the overall angle that matters. Ultimately, of course, what matters is the angle of the lower leg in relation to the ski, which is more directly related to the overall angle of the cuff than simply to its position relative to the boot sole. To eliminate confusion, I often refer to "lower leg angle" rather than using the potentially ambiguous "cuff angle."

No one definition is "right" or "wrong" as long as there is clarity to how someone uses a term. The above definitions are the way I use them, and I believe they correspond to common use as well.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #17 of 84

Adding a internal heel lift might not affect the "cuff angle" of the boot as this is supposed to be a built in feature of the boots construction but it certainly does affect the angle of the tib/fib in realtion to the sole of the boot and the ski. I know this because I have done it and seen it and experienced it. Have you done it (played with ramp angle) and observed the results or are you just reciting whats been written by "the experts on the subject" in "The Professional Skier".


PS It should be clear that the sun moves across the sky and that the flat earth doesn't move but I know better.
post #18 of 84
Thread Starter 

I certainly understand these are not necessarily terms with unique or standard definitions. For example, ramp is used both as the foot ramp angle (relative to either the bottom of the boot or the top of the ski) and the boot sole ramp angle relative to the ski. The trouble with going the route of allowing "standard" usage as you described is that it's ambiguous. So for purposes of this discussion let me make a second attempt to define these terms unambiguously:

Heel lift - lift placed under the heel internal to the boot.
Foot (internal) ramp angle - the angle formed by the foot bed and the boot sole.
Boot (external) ramp angle - the angle formed by the outside bottom of the boot and the ski.
Cuff angle: the angle between the cuff and bottom of the boot.
Lower leg angle: the angle between the lower leg and ski (cuff angle + boot ramp angle).

I've avoided the angle between the foot bed (interface of the foot and boot) and the ski because it can be described by the sum of internal foot ramp angle and external boot ramp angle (both of which are independently adjustable and therefore needed) and I can't easily come up with a second term for it. Additionally, talking about foot sole angle seems unnecessary since one we've got foot ramp angle any additional internal angle is described by heel lift.

I understand your concern with "what is critical" as you stated in your last post. However, I believe that these are all necessary to talk about assessment and modification of fore/aft alignment. While some may be more critical in assessment, others are the things we can independently adjust and modify. Again if these don't work for you just give me a set that does. My motivation here is that I found a lot of ambiguity in your 8:35 am post for the very reasons you stated in your 10:45 am post. I just want to be sure I can accurately intepret comments posted on this subject. As we are seeing, it is perhaps more complex that most people realize.
post #19 of 84
Sorry for the confusion, Si. Try reading the post with the definitions I just gave you, and see if it makes sense.

After rereading my 8:35 post, though, I can't see the ambiguity. I clearly, and literally in capital letters, stated that I was discussing LOWER LEG ANGLE. My use of other terms is defined within the post. And I used pictures! [img]smile.gif[/img]

I would clarify if I could, but I'll let my words stand.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #20 of 84
Hey guys,

If I posted some pictures of me standing in my skis, would you be able to offer some comments? Like, whether or not you think I'm in neutral, or need some tweeking one way or the other.

post #21 of 84
Thread Starter 
Bob, after I read your definitions the ambiguity in the first post was mostly resolved but your definitions still didn't seem to quite do the job. There remains a need for (at least) 2 different "ramp" angles and 2 different "cuff" angles. For example, I still want a term to describe the angle of the cuff to the boot sole as this is a specific adjustment that can be independently performed on a boot (either with built in mechanisms or shims) and in combination with the ramp angle in the boot determines the degree of ankle flexion (at least with the lower leg neutrally positioned between the tongue and cuff). Similarly I already talked about the need for defining 2 ramp angles.

If you don't what a specific term to define these I'm not going to argue further. But I think it is too limiting to just talk about lower leg angle and the angle between the sole of the foot and ski base.
post #22 of 84
Si--I think it's best not to worry about the terminology at all and simply describe what we mean. If more clarification is needed, a question and answer will usually solve the problem.

SCSA--post away! I'd love to see some video, or another photo sequence. Whatever--let's see the goods!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #23 of 84
Hi guys,

Barnes, I've finally found a use for you

In the pictures, I'm standing "normal". Feeling relaxed, just as I would on my skis.

I also tried Bob's idea about squatting. That's as far as I could get without falling backwards.

Interested to see what you guys think. Thanks in advance!
post #24 of 84

You havn't responded to my last post, if its because I gave offense I appoligize I didn't mean to but last season my real life observations were dismissed by someone because they went counter to what was written in TPS and I wasn't an "AUTHORITY" on the subject and the author of the article was so I'm a little sensitive about this.

I looked at my original post and I didn't refer to the cuff angle but to the tib/fib angle which corresponds to your term lower leg angle and when I change the ramp angle of the sole of the foot by raising or lowering the heel I see this angle change. True the change is less in tightly buckled stiff boots than in softer or less tightly buckled boots but the change is there or I am suffering from a very uniform hallucination. Now I've read the theories concerning internal and external changes in ramp angle and the effects that they are supposed to produce but I was taught that when observations conflict with theory you confirm the observations (I feel that I have) then question the theory and that is what I am doing.


Is that as low as you can get before you start to fall backwards? If it is then put a couple magazines under your heel untill you are able to get all the way down. Then measure the thickness of the magazines and let me know what it is. Also I need you to measure the distance from the base of your ski to the platform of your toe piece and heel piece on your bindings, I need this information because there is ramp in almost all bindings and that has to be taken into consideration. Also, try the squat with your cuff buckles buckled one notch looser than they are in the picture and with the buckles totally unbuckled. How much lower can you get in these two scenarios?

Can you also supply a photo of your foot? Sounds kinky but it ain't really, like I said somewhere this is a very complicated subject.
Oh yes, a shot of you doing a full squat in regular shoes or bare feet would be helpfull too.

Now all that aside and with the understanding that I've never seen you walk let alone ski here is my prescription. I'd put a heel lift in your boot and after evaluating its effect (preferablly on snow but just a photo would tell me something) I think that we would be standing the cuff of your boot up straighter if thats possible.

I'm really going to stick my neck out here and guess that you have been told that you are a little bit back in your skiing and that your skiing would improve if you moved forward into the new turn. I don't really believe that I am saying this based on four photos of some guy in shorts, tee-shirt, and ski boots.

Thanks for the mental gymnastics,

PS I know I asked for a lot but what else have you got to do this time of the year.
post #25 of 84

Many thanks for your advice.

Yes, that's as low as I can get without falling backwards.

I will do as you requested and provide the data you need. Look for more pictures and a response tomorrow.

BTW, Harald has told me that he thinks I lean too far forward and that he wants to get me to stand taller in my boots. Does this concur with what you're saying?
post #26 of 84
Thread Starter 

For what it's worth I would say my own (very novice) assessment (based on much too little information) would be very close to yours. Too much cuff angle (boot sole to cuff angle) and back too far. If you saw correlates of this on the snow would you try some small shims under each side of the heel (liability issues aside) while lessening the forward lean?
post #27 of 84
Si: Your interest in this fore/aft analysis is a great starting point for what ends up being a real problem with MOST skiers, myself included over the last 30+ years. First I would like to say BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!,to Bob Barnes for a great analysis and diagramatic presentation with consise descriptions. I was a typical upper level skier, who tried everything to get my skis flat on the snow and my stance in a neautral position,so that I could break through to a higher levlel. I have severe bow legs when I stand on a ski, not otherwise.Therefore, I was canted signifcantly on each foot, to try to flatten the skis. To correct the problem globally, Green Mt.Orthotics in Stratton, Vt. (Scott Thompson), started with boot shell length and worked through complete boot fit, ramp angle, upper shell cuff angle,and finally custom orthotics. The result was amazing. For the first time in my skiing life I was able to stand in a functionally tall manner. According to Scott, I became 4 inches taller. Now that I have said all of that, here is what I feel instructors really need to know. That everyone on skis, if they're serious, should have their fore / aft alignment, ramp angle, and boot shell length checked as a starting point bench mark. I'm not sure of the statistics on how many skiers checked for proper alignment have been determined to need it, but I would venture a guess that it is somewhere around 90%-95%. If anyone is familiar with that percentage, let me know.
post #28 of 84
Hey, SCSA, what other ski equipment do you have that matches your iMac?
post #29 of 84
Hi Ydnar--my apologies--somehow I had missed your post. Nothing personal!

I'm not actually disagreeing with you, either. I have listed reasons why adding a heel lift sometimes allows more forward lean. Specifically, many skiers have stiff ankles that simply can't flex forward enough. By opening those skiers' ankles with heel lifts, they gain the range of motion that they need. I do not argue at all with your empirical evidence. That you have found the effect to be greater with softer or loosely buckled boots only supports this reasoning. Increased range of ankle motion won't matter at all if stiff boots prevent that motion!

My entire contention is based on the assumption that boots are fairly stiff and that there is no play in the cuffs. (I still contend, by-the-way, that stiff boots and performance go together, and that the current trend to softer boots "to allow more ankle flex" is misguided! If you missed it, check out "Knee Bend" )

With that assumption, let's look at what would happen if we install heel lifts in SCSA's boots. (And I agree with you in that I would like to see SCSA experiment with a little more forward lean, based on his inability to get lower without falling over backward.) IF SCSA's ankles are sufficiently flexible to bend a little more, and IF his boots already fit well--ie. his ankle bones and heel line up well with the contours inside the boots--then I would not add heel lifts, at least not as a first resort.

To create more forward lean for SCSA, I would experiment first with the boot cuffs. I'd like to watch him ski a bit with a couple trail maps behind his calves. Alternately, and especially if his ankles aren't sufficiently flexible, I'd elevate his boot heels with a few layers of duct tape on the heel pieces. Of course, as you pointed out, his bindings may create enough ramp angle already that he may not need any of this!

In SCSA's case, I wouldn't expect to see much change either way from the internal heel lifts (again assuming that his ankles are sufficiently flexible, which they may well not be). His calf muscles appear pretty normal, with the typical taper of men's legs (relieved, SCSA? ). In other words, his legs won't get appreciably narrower at the boot tops just by elevating them 1/4" or so.

But think if SCSA had very large, low, abruptly tapered calves. That little bit of lift would make a LOT of difference. If the boots were again snuggly closed, the leg would naturally exit them at a more upright--not more forward--angle!

Anyway, Yd, I think we agree with where we want to go. It's always an experiment either way. Your observations support mine that many skiers lack ankle flexibility. These are the ones who respond well to internal heel lifts.

Off the topic, my latest issue of TPS is sitting on my kitchen table, woefully unread. I know that "the other Bob Barnes" has an article about boot alignment, and I've wanting to find time to read it, especially since it has been discussed here on the forum. But I have not, as yet, read it. So I couldn't tell if your observations run counter to his. Like I said, I do not doubt your observations at all.

While I do not consider myself a bootfitter, I have a reasonable amount of experience with these issues (which does not make me right!). I've worked fairly extensively with several of Colorado's top bootfitters, including Bob Gleason, the "Boot Doctor" of Taos and Telluride (bootdoctor.com), and Education Director of "Master Fit University," and Jeff Bergeron of Breckenridge, perhaps Summit County's most-esteemed boot guru. I've worked with Bob to conduct PSIA's two-day boot alignment clinics, where I lead the on-snow portion and Bob did the inside work. Bob is the one who pointed out with statistics just how common "stiff ankles" are among the skiing population--which supports your observations.

So my statements are not entirely theoretical--they are based on my own observations in conjunction with the findings of some of the recognized masters of the black art of boot fitting. And really, Yd--my observations do not conflict with yours!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #30 of 84
Cool (and crtical) topic, Interesting posts, and while I agree with a lot of what Bob Barnes is saying... And the diagrams rock.. however...

Right ON Ydnar!... You have touched on a number of very important issues.. I understand your frustration with being "out there" with your contemporaries, but some of us DO move forward anyway, eh? :

I really learned a lot from PMTS boot clinic this summer, it really filled in the gaps of my knowledge... excellent program. And Fore/Aft alignment is MUCH trickier, with more variables than lateral alignment. Do lateral first, than work on fore/aft. Requires measurements AND skiing movement analysis.

The truth is in between, and it has less to do with the way thing WERE in the ski industry, compared to the way things ARE, biomechanically, for each individual skier.

Depending on a particular skiers build, getting the ankle to close in a nice stance is quite dependant on the dorsal flexion issues, and this needs to be addressed properly...

Some skiers NEED a heel lift (and then less cuff angle) to fix this, and ramp angle is too large in many boots out there... as is cuff angle.

My own boots have the ramp angle modified (less angle, almost flat) by grinding the heck out of the zeppa, and a small heel lift on the left foot. I am quite one sided, and have a lot less dorsal flexion available on my left foot, and it's more rigid. As well as a 4-5mm differance in leg length, my right leg is shorter. :

Add the fact that I am built funny, with short (31" inseam) legs, and a long torso; 5' 10" tall. As opposed to SCSA, who is built more like a stork!

SCSA, fairly upright in these pictures, I think, but I want/need to do a series of measurements... And you do flex even more than that when you ski. As I recall Diana sez you have a lot of dorsal flexion range, but I don't remember. A tad of the "forward-lean-itis", on the hill. Which I had to deal with too, a number of years ago... Some of it is habitual. Hmmmmmmm...

Cool boots, pumpkin feet! How come Elway isn't chewin' on them? [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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