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Knees: The Good, the Bad ?, (We know the Ugly)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
In another thread the issue of knee wear came up. Shortly after this I was stumbling around epic and came across an exercise link posted awhile back by Lisamarie. This link had a similar knee theme(and contributed to the usual sleep cycle derailment)

Here's Rick H's statement:
From "What's really missing in PMTS" http://www.epic-ski.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000374.html

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>As to ATS. I took an instructors clinic at Steamboat this past spring. The emphasis was edging, pressure and angulation, all at the knees. Sorry, the cartilage has been gone for too many years for me to let my knees crank those lateral/medial angles. Fore and aft and hip angulation works fine<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
After this I asked:
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>So what's the difference if you actively guide the knees in or they just end up there from the forces/radius of the turn? Isn't it safer on the knees to be actively engaging the muscles to move the knee rather than just waiting for the knee to be displaced?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It was after this I came upon lisamarie's exercise link.(I think she posts these so we'll all end up taking the same exercise class. When we all get there her alien "friends" will abduct us in their spaceship. (I wonder if they'll let me drive.)) "Oh, back to the topic..."

This was linked to from the SuzzaneNottingham.com exercise site:
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Placing too much mental emphasis on knee movement is another cause of knee injuries. The knees are designed to move only in a very limited range, especially laterally. Make knee movement your last conscious thought for turning and keep your knees healthy.
While it might look like your friends are using their knees to turn, what's really happening is the feet and hips are rotating and tipping. Your knees do work, it's just that they don't initiate winter sports movements. Rather, if slightly flexed but relaxed, their job is to fine-tune turning movements that originate at the ankles and hips.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> "Preseason training can help prevent knee injuries", Suzanne Nottingham, http://www.active.com/story.cfm?story_id=4219&sidebar=23&category=Winter Sports

The "Bad"?
What do you do for a high energy turn in or out of the gates? How can you not move the knees and lower legs into the turn? Or is the idea that the knees shouldn’t be the first move? It still begs my question above. Is it "Bad" to move the knees in ? I don’t see how it’s possible to make the sharp high speed turns without doing this. Turns that also come almost perpendicular to the fall line require some pretty aggressive movement too if they’re quick.

As for some "Good":

Again through www.SuzanneNottingham.com:
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Bill Knowles is an NSCA certified athletic trainer and re-conditioning expert who trains elite Olympic level ski racers at the Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. "For the past eight seasons, we were seeing around 3.5 ACL (Anterior Crutiate Ligament) injuries a year. Two years ago we implemented an extensive balance, agility and coordination program for our athletes in hopes of reducing that statistic." Mission accomplished. There have been no ACL injuries since implementation of that program. "While I don't have much conclusive, official research yet, we're banking on balance to continue the healthful decline of injuries."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Suzanne Nottingham,"Balance Training: The Foundation - Part 1". http://www.ecybex.com/education/perf...balance_1.html

The "Ugly"? Well, we don’t need to talk about that!...

hmmm...(time to go look for the spaceship...can I sleep on it?)
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[This message has been edited by Tog (edited May 30, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 22
Ah, I was wondering if anyone actually read that link. From my very humble understanding, its a question of setting up the kinetic chain, with the initiation of the movement coming from the feet and ankles. All too often, in any sport or activity, people initiate their movements from the knee.
This has always been a big problem with dancers. They would fake their turn out, or external rotation of the hips, by pressing the knees to the side. This is why you see so many of them at Lesly's studio. (Okay aliens, round up the usual suspects!}
BTW, Suzanne put a link to Fitter1 and Louis Stack. Louis is an avid skier and a wonderful human being. I often seem to end up with him as a partner in any of the balance workshops I attend at fitness conferences.
I'll be taking a ski conditioning workshop from Suzanne in July. If this thread develops a bit more, I will email it to her, so she has an idea of the types of questions people are asking.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #3 of 22

I got through most of that, but I began reading a bit fast, so forgive me if I missed something.

I have some real-world experience with knee pain, and how rotation, counter rotation and angulation affect knees and knee pain.

My first week of skiing this past season was the first skiing I did after my ACL reconstruction. Approx 7 months post op.

I explained my situation pretty clearly to my clinition (Terry Barbour). Late on the 2nd day of skiing, my knee started to bother me. We had been working on knee angulation, and using that to get higher edge angles without having to put the hips (and therefore, CM) quite so far into the turn, allowing us to be more precise with how much edge we wanted to use. I found that this hurt my affected knee, and would start angulating from the hip (I was getting tendonitis). I mentioned this to Terry, and he said that I was still countering too much. As I started following the skis more, and it made a dramatic difference. I could create knee angulation, but if I also tried to rotate the femur on top of the tibia (you may want to call it Counter-rotate), by keeping my femurs pointing down the hill, while turning my feet and tibias into the turn, it stressed the knee ligaments and patella tendon, and made pain. Angulating completely at the hip, and following the skis (not countering) was the least painful way to go because the knee joints stay stacked properly, but the result is that you can't be as precise or quick on the skis. So I had to find a happy mixture of knee and hip angulation that would a) not hurt, b) allow me to be quick and precise, and c) get my CM inside the turn enough to resist the forces, but not so much that it committed me to a predetermined turn size/shape.

As my knee started to feel better during the season, I found that using a little less countering made me much more powerful and precise. However, it did almost feel like a big rotation move to me (internally). Looking at videos, I like the way it looks (externally). It does not look over-rotated. It looks like my CM is moving across the fall line better.
post #4 of 22
I like the way you put that. It kind of explains what I was doing earlier in the season.

Thanks for the explaination. It just puts more validation in my "how hip are you?" post and thoughts.
It probably also explains why my knees were not as sore most of this year besides taking the condroitin/glucosamine supplements.

Is that what I'm seeing in my video? a little too much counter in the belly of the turn or is it pretty much gone by this point. I was working on moving my CM across the skis and trying not to "set my edges" as I reached the middle of the turn.

JohnH, one if the things I was working on while we skied together was the "squarer hips to skis" I probably kept looking down at my feet which may have accounted for some of the head bobbing you mentioned. I'll have to see next year when I get more video footage.
post #5 of 22
I think excessive knee angulation is hard on the MCL. Knee angulation should be used to intiate the turn, while the higher forces later in the turn should be handled by hip angulation. The older A-frame style of turning was harder on the knees (MCL), than the modern parallel shafts technique.

I have seen an article about Olle Larsson(Romark ski academy) lowering/softening the backs of his female racers boots to prevent damage to their ACL. When th hip drops below knee level, the boot alteration allows the knee to move further back, relieving the stress on the ACL. Anyone else see this article? Or have more information on this?
post #6 of 22
I've looked at some of the research and find it quite interesting. no real thoughts yet. I also find it interesting that Lange I believe is putting out a new boot that addresses this very issue with a "breakaway back" boot to protect the knee. It will be worth watching...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited May 31, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 22
Having the hips below the knees is dangerous to the ACL. The ACL is pulled the hardest when the knee is fully bent and fully extended. The Lange boot that is supposed to reduce ACL injuries releases backward, which will straighten the boot, and reduce the tibia/femur angle. Think about it this way. Sitting in your chair with your tibia at a 85 degree angle to the floor (as in a ski boot with a 15 degree forward lean), look at how bent your knee is. Now move your foot forward so that your tibia is 90 degrees to the floor. Less knee bend. If you are sitting ergonomically correct, you went from more then 90 degrees at the knee to less, so the hips are now above the knee.


You wrote: Playing with knee angles while excessively countered would require you to try to bend your knees "sideways"--limited, and painful!

I was not "excessively" countered. We're talking about a 5 degree difference in the direction the upper body was facing. I was not originally trying to keep my shoulders square to the fall line. Far from it. And "shoulders parallel to the slope" is not a bad thing. Granted, it may be a bit exaggerated, but very few skiers angulate enough. As you know, that's a drill to get people out of the bank.

I don't know that I would call "squaring up with the skis" a fad, but I would say that it's only applicable to the portion of the skiing population that has had enough experience and training to have been taught to counter, and are still doing it on more modern sidecuts. It is the last thing you'd tell a level 4 student who is swinging the body around, to try to turn the skis.

All in all, I think we're on the same page here. Different levels of "extreme". If I ever make Ed Staff, I'll look at some of the stuff I'm doing now, and thinking "Geez, how much more extreme could I have been?? I can't believe I skied like that!"
post #8 of 22
What is so fascinating about all of this that it is on the same page of what we are doing in fitness. For years, if you asked anyone for an exercise for the internal obliques , it would always involve torso rotaion. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that EXCEPT....it neglects another essential function of the obliques: postural stability. Another words, they can, and should also be worked, without moving the torso. Kneale once explained something so well once. He said " Move your belly button in the direction the turn." We use that image in fitness, nowadays.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Bob, thanks for the long explanation I hope you've got someone helping you to organize all you're writings!
John I can see what your talking about. Would this mean that you're also a little "longer" throughout the turn with less knee flex/angulation?

So I guess I've got a decent understanding of sort of what positions you want but how do you think about them? Or what do you tell someone else to think about during the turn?

Do you agree with Suzanne's statement above?:
"Make knee movement your last conscious thought for turning and keep your knees healthy....they [knees] don't initiate winter sports movements....their job is to fine-tune turning movements that originate at the ankles and hips."

So think from the feet up and sort of skip over the knees until you need to adjust? I can see this for making big turns.

For short turns in the fall line in loose snow (3-12") I'm often thinking about "pointing" my knees from one direction to another using a narrow stance. There's no time or space to really get the hip in so no need to think about that and the knees do seem to really drive the skis around quickly. This certainly violates the above statement but is there a better way?

Also interesting in one of her balance articles is this demonstration:

Stand up straight with your feet together looking straight ahead ears over the shoulders. Shut your eyes and just notice how you sway. Then move your feet apart and notice how you sway.

(Do this now... )

Neat huh? I feel like a tree swaying in the wind in the first part. Second one less swaying and it seems more fore/aft than somewhat circular for feet together. We could of used this in the stance discussion.

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[This message has been edited by Tog (edited May 31, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 22
Do you agree with Suzanne's statement above?:
"Make knee movement your last conscious thought for turning and keep your knees healthy....they [knees] don't initiate winter sports movements....their job is to fine-tune turning movements that originate at the ankles and hips."

Absolutely true for me.

When doing long turns I lead with inside knee/hip/shoulder, so there is minimal rotation of the knee. If there is any rotation at all, it comes from the feet and the knees just follow slightly.

When doing short slalom turns I try to keep my upper body facing the fall line and I "think" of bringing the feet around, not the knees. As a matter of fact, I keep my ankles as flexed as possible and use leverage on the boot tongue to get the shovels to bite. The idea of turning from the knees almost forces you to have a highly skidded turn. Doing it from the feet ensures that there is much more carving (as much as a short turn will allow). Of course short skis help a lot.

Bye the way, I don't agree with the statement "Move your belly button in the direction the turn.". Again this is a personal preference, but I like to think of only feet and skis as moving in the direction of the turn. The upper body remains slightly countered - due to leading with the inside half, NOT due to counter-rotation.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by TomB (edited June 01, 2001).]</FONT>
post #11 of 22
Tom, sometimes we take a focus or excercise/drill and instead of closing a loop of behavior, believe it to be "the way to ski". Micro focus just like finger pointing to increase hand discipline awareness should be visited when warranted to address issues but not always rigidly incorporated. I have used belly button vectoring myself!
Use your knees or save your knees, thats a choice...but never limit your range of motion.
post #12 of 22
Bob B, This is probably one of those it depends questions, but what is the optimum lead distance for most skiing?
post #13 of 22

That is a good point. I guess that in order to correct/improve a student's skiing, an instructor must emphasize whatever works best for the student. Different people react differently to a variety of feedback. If pointing the navel towards the turn does the trick for someone, then how can I argue with it.

Thanks for pointing that out!
post #14 of 22
My eight year old daughter used to have a swim coach who was from France. The guy was an avid teli-skier and a climber. He showed me a conditioning exercise that he claimed was a sure fire way to prevent knee injuries. He claims it is widely used in Europe. I kind of scoffed at the whole idea as being somewhat akin to a folk remedy. For all I know all the ski teams in the world use it. I'll take a stab at describing the exercise.

You need one of those small trampolines that are round,sit a few inches off the ground, and are about two feet in diameter. I guess gymnasts use them. You scare up a training partner. One stands on the middle of the rubber trampoline surface balancing on one foot with your eyes closed. The surface naturally makes you wobble a bit. Your partner gently bumps your shoulders in an attempt to disrupt your balance. Not hard, just enough to cause a slight disruption in balance and to increase the wobble. You do reps on each leg for twenty minutes.

I wrote to whole thing off as hogwash. I confessed my skepticism to my French friend. He said Americans were stupid for not trying European training techniques!

Has anyone ever seen or heard of this "exercise"?
post #15 of 22
Suzanne uses something like this in her workshops, as well as do many physical therapists. Sometimes they make people face opposite each other and engage in tug of war. Weird as it may sound, its an effective way to develop knee stability.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #16 of 22
I thought the exercise was pretty interesting. P.S./BTW- Thanks for the e-mail. I've been out of town or would have responded sooner!
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
I used that thing on my last acl rehab. Stood on it on one leg then played catch with a ball (18" dia?) with the phys. therapist. She throw it at different spots and then move and I had to throw it back quickly. That one was fun. (Shortly after that the torture would begin on the table with bending the leg to maximum. If she wasn't so nice I would have hated her for those maneuvers.)
post #18 of 22
TomB, there's a difference between aiming the bellybutton toward a turn and moving it into the turn.
post #19 of 22
If knees are of great concern, and putting them in jeoparady because of the unusual "pressures" that they can be subject to, i.e. wierd angles, is this not a defacto arguemnt for avoiding the "zipper line" approach to mogul skiing ?

Also some ideas as to how to strenthen and /or condition ones knees so they can handle the stresses of skiing may be appropriate.

For me it is leg work. Quads and Hams. When doing leg extensions, I also do very small movements at the top and the beginning of the exercise. I feel this does a better job of focusing on the smaller muscles etc. inside the knee. Of course the full range of motion exercise is done as well. Stretching before and after using this and any other leg training aparatus is very important to me as well. Also lots of walking, some running, use of step and elipse machines used in both clockwise and counter clockwise modes, and the stationary bikes, both up right and recumbant.
I don't ski the bumps aggressively or gunky snow more than a few inches deep. I see a lot of people get into trouble under these conditions. I feel these precautions will extend my skiing years, because it lessens the chances for serious knee or back injury.
post #20 of 22
Thanks BobB. I have your book and your explanation is very clear.
post #21 of 22
Good points. Wink. Many, many years ago, I had a kinesiology professor who was way ahead of his time. He was very big on having us work the vastus medialis, which are the smaller muscles directly above the knee. A variation of your leg machine exercise is to stand on one leg, crossing the opposite foot across the knee. Then, bend the standing leg, only about 15 degrees. Its also a good balance exercise. You will probably be able to do it on one side better than the other.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #22 of 22
I do EVERYTHING better on one side than on the other. I just wish I could do ANYTHING well on even one side.
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