Originally Posted by bmillar
because I suffer from back problems that make it hard for me to hold my hands in front of my body and elbows away for extended periods of time. ...
I am wondering if anyone has a technique suggestion that may assist.
I'm not a big fan of back support belts, but I have personally and successfully used one while skiing. Have you tried one?
My first reaction was to recommend going the 30 seconds until you are uncomfortable, then stopping and resting. If the problem is lack of strength, then this technique could help build strength. But I'd be a little concerned about the possibility that the pain is telling you that damage is occurring vs you just pushing your limit. You may want to involve your doctor to help you test this theory. Remember that you are the best person to understand what your body is telling you.
My second reaction was to try to think of alternative means of compensating for not having your hands forward enough. Weighted ski tips or poles came to mind. Changing the ramp angle of the boots or bindings is a bit of an extreme reaction to this problem, but we've got a couple of boot guys around that can chime in on that idea. We've also seen goofy idea like support rods off the back of the boots to help alleviate lower back pain. I can't vouch for those, but after having back pain myself you won't see me criticizing anyone trying wacky ideas to ease their pain.
My third reaction was that maybe it's how you are putting your hands forward that's making the bad difference. One thing I've learned from golf is that there a couple of different ways to bend at the waist and one of them is very hard on the back. Here again boot fitting may be a prime contributor this. Have you had your boots aligned?
There are "easier" ways to ski that are less stressful on the back. There are some great resorts out there with great cruiser runs where you can "get away" with your weight a little in the back seat. If that bulged disk is simply not fixable and prevents you from comfortably getting into "performance mode" for athletic skiing, it may be time to resign yourself to either giving up the sport or becoming a cruiser instead of hitting the bumps and the steeps.
After all of those different reactions, I would not make a suggestion until I learned more about your situation and preferably watched you ski. But maybe something I've offered will click. In the meantime, keep at the fitness regimen. It's my gut feeling that that will help you a lot no matter what other methods you resort to. If you continue to take lessons, please let your instructor know about your condition. I've found that it's best to volunteer up front about current injuries to get the most out of my lessons.