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Balance: What is it? - Page 2

post #31 of 87
Isn't balance controlled by a little organ in your ear which helps you determine acceleration and deceleration? Unfortunately I forget the medical term.

Everyone has some measure of balance, some have more than others, but humans can adapt their balance skills to various activities (with practice, of course).

Regardles of alignment or strength, a strong figure skater (who has outstanding balance) will be completely out of his/her element first time on skis. He/she will need time to adapt to the new "environment".

So I tend to think of balance as a skill, not much different than any other skill required in skiing.
post #32 of 87
It is actually based on an integrated reaction of the eyes, ears brain and nervous system. If there is a disfunction in any of these, balance will be challenged. But even if all these systems are pretty much functional, poor postural alignmnet can alter this functionality. Think about it! A misaligned neck will influence how someone receives visual stimuli.

You are correct in saying that strength may be unrelated to balance. A recent study took Pro weight lifters, and put them in a situation where someone would try to knock them down. It was actually much easier than was percieved!
post #33 of 87
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lisamarie:
I'm using static and dynamic balance in their text book case definitiions. [sorry, its a severe occupational hazzard, kind of like the way I see the word "alignment"] So in terms of exercise physiology ['exercise" , meaning to encompass sport and all other forms of movement] dynamic balance is classically refered to as balance in motion. When we speak of someone who has poor dynamic balance, we are usually talking about someone who may staggar when they walk [not counting alchoholic influence!] or tends to trip, often [trip meaning fall, not the choice recreational drug of the 70s]

The classic case that can illustrate this for skiers, is to take a never ever, who believes she has excellent balance, because she practices yoga. [lets assume that this is her only form of physical activity] She can hold a Tree Posture [standing on one leg] for an endless period of time. She loves to do hyperextension exercises, such as the cobra. But before she began her yoga lessons, she was already extensively sway backed. So now, she walks with a very arched lower back. Long term sitting in a lotus position has made her already hyperflexible ankles even more hyperflexible. Since she does not believe in strength training, her natural tendency to be stronger in her quads than her hamstrings. Since she is a she, she is probably a bit loose jointed.

Now lets take her skiing. Lets put her in rental boots, that are not apprpriate for her skiing alignment. So now we have a misaligned natural posture, along with misaligned equipment. As has been stated, posture is paramount to balance. Now she has to actually move in balnce, which she is not used to doing.


So to make a long story short, static balance is balance without locomotion, dynamic balance is balance with locomotion. Staic balance is a good starting point for learning dynamic balance, but the progression from one thing to the next needs to be logical. If someone has bad alignment, static position, balance can be faked by compensating. It is harder, although not impossible, once in motion!

With this kind of explanation you now qualify to be a ski instructor!

post #34 of 87
The study of posture can be seen as a study of awareness. Awareness of the relationships between the parts of the body and the learning of the subtle art of adjustment. Without good posture, we cannot begin to study good balance.

Begin the study by taking account of all the situations in everyday life where your posture is compromised.

Untrain your slouching muscles and become consciously aware of the minute adjustments you must make to maintain posture throughout the day. It's easy to slouch in the chair at the desk rather than sitting up straight. We are constantly placing our bodies in unnatural postures that become detrimental habits.

Posture for skiing could perhaps be defined as "balancing through the fullest range of movements possible". A wide range of movement is needed to deal with the forces created by skiing. It is not our skeletal structure that stifles our range of movement, it is muscles that have been trained to not explore the limits of range of movement. Slouching. Leaning.

Our moods affect our posture. Perhaps we should define posture by the position of our lips. "Smile and the world smiles with you". Good posture brings about a sensation of lightness and confidence. A simple committment to carry oneself with a cheerful dispostion causes a general uplifting. This a brief transgression to the matters at hand; maybe... but true and profound change of this nature comes slowly and with small steps. There are many trees in this forest. View these thoughts broadly. Make it habit to carry yourself through your days standing gently tall and this habit will enhance every aspect of your life and set you on the road to complete postural awareness. Some call this nirvana.

Back to skiing, many of you have described a sensation of "falling into a turn". If we are to speak of ultimate performance skiing, consider the examples of the finest skiers in the world. These people have this in common: the ability to exercise the fullest range of meaningful movement possible. Movement is only effective, only meaningful when it maintains balance while the body is in motion. Those with poor posture cannot begin to explore these mystical realms, because they cannot fully "fall into themselves".

One of the most important elements defining expert skiing is the ability to control pressure. Higher speeds, greater edge angles equal much more pressure to deal with. This requires a greater range of meaningful movement. People have difficulty controlling speed because they cannot control pressure through delicate, yet powerful, refined muscle movements. Pressure control is a sensory skill developed through practice which builds a growing awareness of the relationships of the parts of the body. Posture is the foundation upon which this awareness grows.
post #35 of 87
Help, I've fallen and can't get to my beer!

post #36 of 87
Thread Starter 
Well, I am back from a crazy week! I have read all of the posts. Arcmeister and Lisamarie have provided, in my opinion, the most relevant definitions to my original question: Define balance as it relates to skiing. This is not to say the other posts were not relevant; they were more discussion than definitions. Without discussions, where would we be as a society?

I would like to express thanks to all that have particpated in this discussion. This is not to say that the discussions should stop. On the contrary, let them continue.

Happy Holidays to all... RH
post #37 of 87
Floyd, I've been known to go off on commentaries like that in responce to a ski instructor's simple question! I then get asked to answer without all the PSIA jargon!
Rick, perhaps my accuracy of defintion comes from having the objectivity of being outside your profession.

I have the secret, MY GOD that was beautiful!!! Not to drive home a point which I tend to be a bit obnoxious about , but anyone who believes that Pilates, which is in essence, about postural alignment, has NOTHING whatsoever to do with skiing, should read his post again and again and again!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 20, 2001 12:01 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #38 of 87
At the moment I am balancing a Scotch and a Beer.

Come morning I will balance a slick walk to the bus followed by a polished stair entry to the ski room.

Ultimately I will balance my givering\quibering mass over my skis. My skis and the terrain will balance my body. My brain will sort he whole mess out and keep me upright and smiling.

Should I fall, I will blame the fact that typing this speal feeds the persistent free radicals in my brain.

LM I believe the correct wording is smoke his pot again and again and again!

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 19, 2001 11:54 PM: Message edited 3 times, by man from oz ]</font>
post #39 of 87
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Another interesting defimnition of balance is "the ability to react to perturbation". [that probably has a psychological component, too! ]

I like that one - makes it easier to explain to people when I try to tell them I have balance problems!

Standing still - not SOOO hard (except on 1 foot)
Making controlled movements - tricky
Reacting to bumps in snow etc - Bloody Hard! Absolutely the hardest bit - because each one is different - so I can't LEARN a response - I can only LEARN to RESPOND.
post #40 of 87
So. Wonderful discussion so far.
Regarding balance-ing, I heard a fellow instructor proclaiming in stentorian tone to his students the other day that "Balancing on one foot is the HOLY GRAIL of upper level skiing."
As a newbie to the forum, would it be hijacking the direction of this thread for me to ask what YOU ALL think? Given the evolution of ski technique as driven by evolution of ski technology, does such a proclamation continue to have validity for our students?
post #41 of 87
I can tell you I can't balance on 1 foot

especially not with skis & boots on

However I can do turns on alternating feet quite well - nice carves each time if i am using inside edges - bit smeared using outsides
post #42 of 87
Welcome Vera! And girl, if you think that was a hijack, you should see some of these threads... [img]smile.gif[/img]

It's possible that I am about to display may stupidity, nut I am going to take an educated guess at your question. Keep in mind that I am at the lower end of intermediate, not an upper level skier.

At one point I may have areed with that statement. But having participated in this forum, along with doing a little bit more study about the biomechanics of sport, I would say that the Holy Grail happens not in the one legged balance, but in the fluid TRANSFER of balance both laterally, as well as in fore/aft alignment.

And now that i probabaly humiliated myself..... [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #43 of 87
LM - I think we said the samething - sort of.

ie I cannot do a static balance on 1 leg thingy - but the changes through turns are easier - I have no idea why...
post #44 of 87
Thread Starter 
Boy, was I surprised to see this thread resurface!

I stand by the definition that I said in the starting post:
"Maintaining a state ef equilibrium within the confines of a ski boot." I see no reason to change or modify that statement.

Disski, I suspect the reason you can't balance on one ski boot is quite simple; underdeveloped muscles that control balance. Those muscles are the peroneal group and the anterior tibialus(sp?). Thes muscles are "co-contractors". When your foot goes onto the little toe "edge", or supinated, the peroneals are contracted and the tibialus is relaxed. When the foot is on the big toe edge, or pronated, the tibialus is contracted and the peroneals are relaxed. I have been trying to find a good excersize to develop these muscles. The best that I have found is balancing on a thin rope or use a balance board. Perhaps Lisamarie can shed some light on the subject.

[ December 07, 2002, 07:34 PM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #45 of 87
Rick - I assume lack of proprioceptive feedback to drive muscle movement for 1 foot balance. when I tap a finger I can balance much better on 1 foot(in lounge) - extra feedback.

I think when I am moving/turning I am getting much more feedback from the ski than standing slower turns are harder
post #46 of 87
Well, Disski, some might argue that the ability to balance on one foot in the LOUNGE is the Holy Grail.... (Others simply prefer to recall the comforting law that "you can't fall off the floor"!)

Welcome to EpicSki, Vera! With all the recent threads about balance, you must have been pretty diligent--or fanatical--to have dug this one out of the archives!

Certainly, the ABILITY to balance on one foot, or the other, or both, as desired or required, is one SIGN of the expert skier. If you can't balance on one foot, you really can't balance at all! That doesn't mean you always SHOULD balance on one foot, though.

Rick H--your definition may not be inaccurate, but it certainly doesn't tell the complete story of "what balance is." And as we've discussed at length, the idea of "equilibrium" is itself quite debatable. Anything that is turning is accelerating, and anything that is accelerating is most definitely NOT in "equilibrium."

Lisamarie's "interesting" definition of balance as "the ability to react to perturbation" also fails to tell the whole story, although I like it anyway. As we have discussed in the more recent balancing threads, balancing involves REacting to "perturbation" AS WELL AS moving "proactively" in such a way as to MINIMIZE perturbation! MilesB put it nicely--something to the effect that balancing involves moving in ANTICIPATION of the forces/perturbations that you are ABOUT to encounter.

The ability to react involves many innate, as well as some learned, aspects, and as David M has described, equipment and its setup can play a big role in our ability to "react" effectively. "Proactive" movement are primarily learned, skills that develop with practice, both physical motor skills and perceptual skills.

So I stick with my definition of balance as, ultimately, the act of not falling down, while maintaining a physical attitude that provides maximum movement options and biomechanical efficiency, and that provides optimal control of the "center of pressure" of the ski/snow interface. And EVERY MOVEMENT WE MAKE affects balance!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #47 of 87
posted by disski: I think when I am moving/turning I am getting much more feedback from the ski than standing slower turns are harder
Try riding a bicycle really slowly. What kind of movements do you need to keep it upright? Now try making a very slow turn. Almost impossible!

I watched a lot of people learning on the bunny slope yesterday. I don't know how they stay upright moving so slowly! If they carried a little more speed, perhaps they wouldn't be fighting so hard (enter the fear factor here).

I saw this yesterday with my friend. Skiing very well, in control, and yet going just a little too slowly and cautiously. I could tell she was working very hard, and she was not letting the skis "run" under her. I got her into a "follow me" game. We were on a green run, and I made long side to side glides across the whole run, with nice long turns. I got a little more sped up each time, and I don't think she knew what I was doing. By the last run, we were using less than half the run, going at a good clip, and she was keeping up.

I asked her how she felt. "That was great and my legs are not so tired now", she said.

I think speed and balance ARE related in a sense. Of course, I'm talking about beginners here, and not the more experienced skiers. I need to learn to do on a blue or black run what I do on a green: glide with fluidity. It's just something about pitch.....
post #48 of 87
Originally posted by KeeTov:

So how do you tell someone in fear of losing their balance to relax? We've talked about this in other threads.


We can't take balance(whatever we think it is) for granted. Like anything else, we always have to practice, and push the envelope.
Sudden acceleration/deceleration sensed by the body, as has been said, promotes the need for the body to do something; it acts like an early warning flag.

Experience tells us what to do in these circumstances along with other feedback. Practice of particular combinations of acceleration/deceleration with biofeedback improves our response. Those people who practice getting back in balance (balance training) mostly have better respinses than those who don't.

From observation, students are most uncomfortable when they are subject to unexpected acceleration/decelerations.

Negative G sensitivity has not been discussed, but may also be a factor for some skiers who fail to adjust to more challenging (rapidly changing) terrain. Moguls are the most likely terrain to generate negative G.

In sailplane/gliding instruction, students are tested for this sensitivity and sucesptable students are desensitised by controlled exposure and practice. It has been idenfified as the probable cause of many final turn, landing accidents.

[ December 08, 2002, 06:29 AM: Message edited by: Nettie ]
post #49 of 87
Well, how about this Rick? "Dynamic balance is the partnership between the intent of out movements and our response to the forces acting on us. A marriage with give and take, take and give.

I've been coming to this conclusion because of the whole concept of being out of balance at sometime during a turn. I don't feel that unless my partnership is not working together. I don't ever feel out of balance when I'm "skiing well" My movements serve a dual purpose. If my response is defensive in nature I will certainly at some point feel out of balance, because the forces are moving me, but if my response is to move with and so make the force work for me then my defense becomes an offense. Take the bumps for instance. If I brace against the force of running up against one I'm no longer in control, the forces will move me, but if I respond to the force by giving and absorbing and continuing on my path, then I'm still in control, and able to give back with force as I move forward. Another obvious example is moving from groom to powder at speed. My movements can create or give up balancng depending on my intent.

This might very well be splitting hairs, but I see my movements as creating balance not regaining balance. This speaks to the contact point or my root. Am I growing it or hoping it grows? Even if we're off the snow and moving we are still in balance if we are moving with intent to respond to the force of landing. Does this make sense? PLease don't take this to mean I have it all figured out or that I think I'm a ski god, I don't and I'm not. This is just my thinking as it has evolved to this time, and it seem to go in the direction of Bob's very good explanation above. I feel a real uncomfortableness with the idea that we move to regain our balance. Well of course we do sometimes, nothing is 100%. But I see the intent of our movements is to create balancing through our contact point and our response to the forces at that point. Is this a distinction others see, or am I on my own with this? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #50 of 87
A solid foundation supports purposeful action is how I see it, Ric.

In skiing and in life.
post #51 of 87

Do we develope as wide a base as possible to preclude being tipped by any force short of devestation?


Do we refine our selves to successfully accomodate most of our anticipated situations while expending the minimum effort and rescources?

Philo - sophy

My "habit" is the former, my desire, the later

post #52 of 87
Originally posted by vera:
So. Wonderful discussion so far.
Regarding balance-ing, I heard a fellow instructor proclaiming in stentorian tone to his students the other day that "Balancing on one foot is the HOLY GRAIL of upper level skiing."
As a newbie to the forum, would it be hijacking the direction of this thread for me to ask what YOU ALL think? Given the evolution of ski technique as driven by evolution of ski technology, does such a proclamation continue to have validity for our students?
Paul, good to have you back. I wondered when you would return to shake this place up a bit.

post #53 of 87
Thread Starter 
Bob Barnes,

If you are in balance at any moment (read that portion, instance or degree,minute or second) within a turn, you are in equallibrum for that moment. If you are not in balance at any point within the arc, you are not in equallibrium. Conversely, if you in balance at any point within the arc, you are in equallibrium for that point. It is a yea/nea situation; either you are in or you out of balance. You may not be falling, but you are not where you should be if you are in balance.
post #54 of 87
Originally posted by Rick H:
If you are in balance ... you are in equallibrum for that moment. If you are not in balance at any point within the arc, you are not in equallibrium. Conversely, if you in balance at any point within the arc, you are in equallibrium for that point.
Ric You are using the words "balance" an "equilibrium" interchangeably. "Equilibrium" (in dynamics) means that all the forces acting on a body are in "balance." A first time skier hanging on the back of his boots is in equilibrium if he doesn't fall down (actually, he's also in equilibrium after he falls down), but he's not using good balance skills: he's using muscle power to balance the force of gravity. Bob B's definition of balance is correct, but I would re-state it (for skiing only) that balance is the skill of maintaining the optimum body position to allow effective use of edging, pressuring and rotary movements to control our movement down the mountain.

post #55 of 87
Originally posted by Rick H:
I posted the note below in Hyper Change Cafe. I decided to post here to get additional feedback. I will be away from my computer for a few days, but I will answer questions when I get on Friday. Thanks in advance.

Balance: What is it in skiing?

Having done a little research on the term, balance, I have come up with several definitions of balance.

From Webster: To bring to a state of equipoise. 2) Physical equilibrium; the ability to retain one's balance. 3) Stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of a vertical axis. Two specific ski definitions: 1) Standing in balance means we are able to move freely and in a range to recover. 2) Balance is the ability to stay in equilibrium (Harb, 2001). Combining some of the definitions that I have read: Maintaining a state of equilibrium within the confine of a ski boot.

I hope that these definitions stir up some discussion on this topic. There is a lot of controversy between stable and dynamic balance. There should be some discussion, as ot the pros and cons, of these two terms.



<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 10, 2001 04:22 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Rick H ]</font>
post #56 of 87
If you are in balance at any moment (read that portion, instance or degree,minute or second) within a turn, you are in equallibrum for that moment
Rick--as I have often described, and as John Dowling affirms, balance on skis really involves much more than "equilibrium." "Equilibrium" denotes a state of zero acceleration, which very clearly means you are not turning! This is true by definition--it is not debatable!

On the other hand, if you are travelling at a constant velocity--i.e. going straight at constant speed--you ARE in equilbrium, by definition. But you may well NOT be "balanced"!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #57 of 87
So now I'm going to ask a question we might hear from our students. "As I get better at skiing, will I still feel like I'm going between losing my balance and getting it back with every turn?". How would everyone answer this?
post #58 of 87
Originally posted by Ric B:
So now I'm going to ask a question we might hear from our students. "As I get better at skiing, will I still feel like I'm going between losing my balance and getting it back with every turn?". How would everyone answer this?
My answer is that as my skiing improves, my awareness of balance also improves, and my tolerance for error equally decreases. Sometimes I find a zone where everything feels perfect, but more often I feel as if I'm constantly struggling to maintain my balance. This hasn't changed since my first day on skis, although the times I'm in the zone are a little more frequent now.

One day I skied hard Eastern ice covered by 1/4 inch of fresh falling snow, in flat light. It was almost completely unedgible, and you had to ski totally by feel. I watched my daughter ski that easily, as if it were groomed. She told me she felt like she couldn't ski at all any more. I think all good skiers have had the experience of being complemented on their skiing, when they felt as if they were not skiing well at all.

post #59 of 87

Becoming better at skiing means you are using the available natural forces to do the work. The better you are, the less work you have to do.

I had a boss once who said there are four types of people separated by these qualities: ambitious, lazy, stupid, and smart. People who are lazy and stupid need direction. People who are ambitious and stupid are dangerous and should be avoided like the plague. People who are smart and ambitious are good to have on your team. But the people who are smart and lazy are the best of all, because they will find the easiest way to get the work done.

I figure the best skiers are the smart, lazy ones.
post #60 of 87
Interesting point John. I've been there myself, feeling like I wasn't skiing my best, or feeling like I'm on the edge ,about to lose it, only to have someone say nice turns. So how much does our perception of what we're doing cloud our feel for what we're doing? And is what looks good always whats best or most effective? Does looking balanced always equal to effective balancing? :
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