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Bending forward at waist

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

First, the specifics- 50 yrs old, 6'2", 185 lbs body weight, skiing ~ '03/04 Icon DPXR boots (with custom orthotics, heel lifts, and fitted by custom bootfitter), 178 cm Legend 8000 skis. Skiing on and off for many years. Fairly atheletic and ski aggressively on all types of slopes through single black diamonds, can handle double blacks if snow covered but less comfortable when hard crust and narrow. Can do moguls but not always pretty, especially when tall narrow and icy. Often, I seem to end up in the back seat while skiing. Also, it almost seems like my boots have become stiffer with age.


Anyways, I have noticed with my skiing that I often end up bending forward excessively at the waist. I seem to be able to ski more aggressively when doing that. It may be that it helps me stay out of the back seat, I don't know. I also seem to be able to ski bumps much easier doing that. I know that I should be letting my knees flex in the bumps and keep my hips lower, but I seem to often end up bent way forward down at the waist with my upper bod yless than 45 deg to the slope. I seem to be able to have more control with that BUT I think that other aspects of my skiing suffer. Any suggestions in terms of technique or ski or boot setup? I do have a very large foot size (14" street) but my boot is centered on the marks on the ski. All suggestions welcome.




post #2 of 10

Howdy Nick,


Bending forward/hinging at the waist is an exhausting and incorrect technique to get your weight forward. It's also hard on your back/pain. Stand up taller and use your lower body(ankles,shins,ect.) to bend the skis. When you bend at the waist there is a loss of flexiblity,power and balance to start with. One of the Pros should go into more detail.

post #3 of 10

nick, I think you have a good grasp of why you are bending forward at the waist. Keeping the balance point under your feet is a totally appropriate use of hip/waist flex as you flex to absorb terrain. The thighs close to parallel to the snow drives the hips and torso into the back seat. You have to do something to maintain balance.

That doesn't mean staying that compact throughout the turn though. Think about reaching down into the trough with your feet and the forebody of the skis. By extending that much you are now able to flex to absorb the next bump. A good way to think of this is you cannot continually flex, you run out of range of motion. You need to extend before you are able to flex again. Sort of like re-loading a gun when you're out of ammo. BTW, Most people extend at the top of the bump, launching themselves into the air. So now they need to flex to absorb their hop as well as the terrain. For a porpoise turn that works but isn't what you would want to do all the time.

Another thing to consider is just how far you can flex into a tuck while in ski boots. The greater the range of motion you can move through without shifting your weight backwards the better. This may point out an alignment issue involving your boot ramp angle, binding height, etc...


Strong abdominals, lower back, and core muscles are needed to make these strong movements as well. The weaker the body the more problems you may have finding balance in such a dynamic environment.

So to say for sure it's one or the other is close to impossible sitting here writing this, Play with all of it and find out which changes make the most difference.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 2/15/2009 at 03:46 am

Edited by justanotherskipro - 2/15/2009 at 03:47 am
post #4 of 10

Nick, I'm suspicious about your heel lifts.  Too much ramp angle forward can force a skier to flex too much at the knees to stay center balanced, and over flexing at the waist can be a by-product.  If your heel lifts are easily removeable, it would be easy to do a quick test to see if you naturally stand taller with the lifts out.  If it's the case, you would also notice it easier to assume strong shin contact on the front of your boots too.  Wouldn't hurt to give it a go. 


Also, justanotherskipro has given you good advice on the technique end of flexion/extension in bumps.  If you do have a boot set up problem, getting it sorted will help you put it to use. 

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone. Your replies confirmed what I myself have been thinking. It is particularly interesting about the fact that it is natural to have to move your weight somehow forward when your thighs are parallel to the slope, ie butt ends up more backward. It would seem that, at that point, I would also have to flex my knees more forward to keep my weight centered and/or not in the back seat. Either that would entail more forward angle to the boot or really driving the shin forward. Hence my comment about my boots seeming to have less ability to flex forward with age.... hmmmm..... has anyone experienced that?


The other issue is the heel lifts. I agree with Rick and I have thought the same thing. I have two sets of lifts, a thinner one between my orthotic and my liner which helped to keep my toes off of the front when the boots were new and a thicker one that a "master" bootfitter placed on the footbed of the boot below the liner with some VERY sticky tape. I was thinking of trying to remove the latter since removing the former would then position me differently in the liner and I would no longer have the advantage of the liner modifications that were done long ago. I will try removing the heel lifts, if I can ever get them off the tape. What kind of super tape is that? It is possible that since I didn't have my current skis with the Dynastar Fluid system when the bootfitter placed the thicker heel lifts in, I might be off on the ramp angle. I will let you know what I find out.




post #6 of 10


Have you thought about going out with a skipro that has the training to do alignment corrections? Inside measurements and corrections only get you in the right zip code. You still need to do some on the snow work to verify your set up is what you need. This means hiring a pro who can help you figure out if your movements are habits or equipment related.

post #7 of 10



It does sound like an issue with your fore/aft set-up.  There are four parameters which affect this: ramp, forward lean, delta angle, mounting position of the binding.  The boot flex stiffness may also play a role.  The stiffer the flex the more critical it is to be properly aligned as the boot can not be easily overcome to compensate for poor alignment.


If you have an oppertunity to ski in Tahoe area I specialize in this stuff.  Check our the boot fitting tab on my website and click on fore/aft to view the four parameters above.  Perhaps this will offer a better understanding of what is involved and how they must all work in harmony to achieve optimum balance.



post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input-



That is probably a very good idea; Bud also suggests the same. I am sure that our bodies also react differently to slope conditions, either consciously or unconsciously, and that complicates the issues. On top of that, throw in the fact that I ski both new school and "old school" style, the former on the easier going slopes and conditions and the latter when I really need to attack the hill and it complicates the setup. I really don't envision changing styles that much at my age, but I really do want to ensure that I am balanced. I do recall that the one time I had to use rental boots, I hated the fact that they had less control BUT I did find that , once I realized that they were much flexier (fore-aft), I was able to adjust and almost had an easier time staying out of the back seat. This was probably due to the fact that I could flex far enough forward that I wasn't dropping my butt back that much.



As a matter of fact, I was hoping on joining a group in the Tahoe area this spring, but it looks like their trip got cancelled. If I do make it there, I will definitely look you up.


I am also currently looking to get into a pair of lighter AT boots, so anything I can do to dial in my current setup first would be helpful. OTOH, it might be best to start "fresh" with the AT boots and then adjust my current alpine boots based on knowledge gained with the latter. As a matter of fact, if I find a good performance oriented AT boot, ie. Dynafit Zzeus, I might end up making that my default boot. Its just virtually impossible to find it in that 30/0/30.5 size I need (the latter is only available outside the US). I will probably hit the slopes at the end of next week, so I will remove my current heel lifts in my alpine boots and see what happens. I will report back.


Thanks again.


post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I am resurrecting my thread a bit, because I came to a big realization this past Friday while skiing which confirmed many of the thoughts and observations in this thread. Conditions were highly variable at Crystal with rain and fairly slushy snow at bottom and blistering wind /whiteouts at the top half. The snow was skied out a lot so it had lots of crud. I was  trying to strike a good balance on the skis to minimize my bending at the waist. It helped significantly when I tried to stand tall and - this is really important - rotate my hips forward more than trying to drive my knees forward. This helped alot. BUT, I did notice, once again, that when I had to flex my knees to absorb bumps and ski the moguls, I would, naturally end up more in the back seat. The reason became obvious in that I realized my shins could not flex far enough forward at those times to keep centered - my Icons, when strapped tight, do not flex, ie.the cuff assy is latched tightly to the back spine. I did replace my old wornout straps with some 3-band Booster straps (which seemed like the right choice); which seemed to help a bit as long as the cuff buckles are not overtightened.


Unfortunately due to the lateness of the season and limited funds, I am not going to be able to visit anywhere (ie Bud) to help with my alignment issue. The next time I go skiing, I am thinking of keeping my cuff buckles virtually loose and just using the booster strap to adjust the flex. This might allow me the additional forward flex to bring up my knees during the bump adsorption without falling in the backseat. It wouldn't solve all of the alignment issues, but it might at least point to the right path. Any other recommendations?


On a related note, I have always wondered if part of the problem for someone of my height 6'2" is that a ski length of 178 cm on steeps may, by self-preservation tendencies, force someone to fall in the back seat to avoid tumbling down the mountain. Yes, I recognize that my knees should be more twisted into the slope while only the body is still facing square to the slope...  but.....


Once again, trolling for some free advice....





post #10 of 10

The geometry issue you described is very valid. Without ankle flex, the knee flexing drops the hips aft. Since the ski boots inhibit the full range of ankle movement, some other solution is needed. The hands forward idea helps but a better solution is to explore a wide range of movements using all the joints. At some point the hips and the spine will naturally bend forward.

You can test your set up at home to get an idea how ramp and delta angles affect your vertical range of motion. Stand in front of a mirror facing sideways. Move through as much up and down range of motion as you can without dropping into the back seat. Try it again with a small shim under the heels. Experiment with different size shims and look for a change in the vertical range of motion you can move through as described above.

it isn't a complete test but it should give you an idea about just how heel height can affect your stance and balance. BTW you can do the same with the toes but start with the heels...

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