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post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
The idea of the kenetic chain (as applied to skiing) is that small motions made with the foot will recrute larger muscle groups and involve joints further up the body as we continue to try to move the foot further or with more power. But, the focus remains on the sensation of moving the foot. The idea is that trying to tip the foot to the little toe side inside the boot will lead to angles being created at the knee, hip, torso and head.

This idea works well with most of the population that we work with but have any of you ran into a situation where it didn't? My example of the shortcomings of depending on the chain is from two sources. One is a highly trained dancer and the other is me. Dancers are trained to isolate and move body parts without involving the rest of the body. Tell a dancer to tip their shoulders to match the slope of the hill and they will do just that with little effect on the rest of their bodies. I do the same thing with tipping my foot inside my boot. I tip it as far as I can and I am so focused on the foot that the chain just doesn't create the angles further up the body. I have to add something to the tipping to shape the middle two thirds of the turn. For me what works best is the sensation of rotating the foot to point the ski in the direction I want it to travel. Then I get the angles I want higher in the body. So for me tipping the foot connects the turn and pointing the foot shapes the turn

Anyone else have a similar experience or am I just weird?

Hope this makes sense,

post #2 of 7
Yd, a good point that makes perfect sense. (I especially like the dancer example). I suspect this is true to a lesser or greater extent for most people in one way or another. It is an example of why a ski instructor (or any teacher) can be especially useful in some cases and why they need a variety of approaches to be successful with a diverse student population. While we share certain movements patterns (kinetic movement chains) or thought processes there are also considerable individual differences.
post #3 of 7
I like your pointing out the the chain depends upon keeping the feet powered up, when they shut down so does the k-chain effect.

I have encountered a couple of similar issues that inhibit the function of the kinetic chain. One is skiers having strong habits that engage the larger muscles up the chain in a fashion that blocks or is counter-productive to the recruitment effect from the feet. These are generally due to less efficient movement patterns they learned to turn with. Second is similar but more due to general rigidity or stiffness throught body that impeeds the body taking shape in responce to intent of feet (this can sometimes be a fear or im-balance reaction that needs to be addressed directly). Often it is a whole body trying to cause the turn kind of thing.

I use a similar approach for either to create better kinesthetic awareness for both issues.

With them standing, I hold ski tips as they start to softly roll feet in boots, then more, untill they experience larger leg muscles being recruited so the experience how it "should" work. Then with legs pre-tensed up, do it again so they experience the blockage. I will have them ski their old turns, exaggerating their habits (by my telling them what to tension to emphasise), then shift to relaxing those inputs and simply rolling/tipping the feet and allowing the recuuitment. If is important to do this on gentler terrain where they can ski relaxed and not feel forced to "revert" to fighting for their habits out of nessesity.
I may also initially encourage active shaping of the body to reduce the inhibition of it to be recruited to do so. This creates more awareness that whole body skiing requires allowing the body to assist the intent we hav efor our feet/skis. I also encourage skiing first extended and tense body then "settled" or with a more relaxed torso and more intense feet until they develop trust in what the activity of the feet can produce for their skiing. I've found that creating contrasting experiences between old and new allow the skier to better recognise which they have chosen to use, choose the new more often, and commit to a stronger focus on changing.

[ January 16, 2003, 08:37 AM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #4 of 7
This is a post I wrote on the kinetic chain last year, when I was sudying for my sports medicine certification.

Quite often, dancers, are extremely fit people will attempt to use large muscle isolation when learning to ski. Dancers at least have the benefit of actually working their feet. But foot work is sometimes taught as the esthetics of a certain line of movement, not as something that is functional to the movement itself.

I had a radical kinesiology professor back in college, who was on a vendetta against the dance department for encouraging EXTREME dorsi flexion {pointe} in ballet dancers. It was his opinion that it does nothing for biomechanics, but is a major cause of injury.

But unfortunately, going on pointe is an esthetic issue for ballerinas.

Many fitness people never work their feet. I was guilty of that for awhile. So obviously, I was muscling moves like crazy.
Now, when I teach ski fitness classes, every strength move begins with some sort of action in the feet.

People sometimes have a hard time understanding the fact that kinetic chain reactions are neurological. They tend to view skiing, and therefore ski conditioning as being completely muscular.

For me, the key issue was understanding the idea that the kinetic chain is involved in our reactions to changes in the environment, as well as our interpretations of these changes. This will affect how our body reacts to them.

If our skiing patterns keep us on the same terrain, or if we choose conditioning methods that are controlled and predictable, we will not be given the kinetic chain enough of a "neurological challenge" to promote improvments in skiing.
post #5 of 7
Ydnar - I used to do that sort of stuff ALL the time. I could be relied upon to produce the weirdest move possible given the description...

It simply WASN'T natural for ME to move the 'other bits' after/while trying to move the described bit

to get me out of intermediate skiing my instructors had to go WAY outside the box & find ways to teach me HOW to move & recruit bits of my body as needed. I am still amazed that I can do this at all reasonably
post #6 of 7
I am not sure I would generalize that it works well with the population we work with. I think you will find many exercises that have been developed to start with larger muscle groups and move to the feet i.e. hip, leg, knees, shoulders etc. Therefore I think it is safe to assume many instructors experienced what you describe. Possibly assumption is the biggest error we all make? Skis to knees but if it isn’t working it must be up higher?
post #7 of 7
I find the kenetic chain depends strongly on the ideas David M presented on balance. Balance must be on one foot before the kenetic chain is possible.
Many beginners constantly transfer balance back and forth between their feet (like walking) several times during a turn. No edge is ever really established on the outside ski and so, no balance is achieved and the kenetic chain breaks down. Out of balance beginners try the kenetic chain but it doesn't work, they recruit large muscles farther up every time. If I can get them to stop transfering balance around and establish an edge on the outside ski, the kenetic chain works every time. The problem is getting some skiers to stop transfering balance between the feet. Some skiers are just dense or the opposite and try to think the skis into balance. As soon as they have balance on the outside foot, I start working almost exclusively with the inside foot and movements towards the inside of the turn.

One thing I have found though is that some people transfer balance back and forth without showing much classical out of balance movement other than the fact they are not able to operate the kenetic chain. This can sometimes be difficult to recognize and frustrating if you don't. Take the case of the dancers, they are use to being on the toes and establishing dynamic balance through other contorsions with the body. The dancers are simply are comfortable with not establishing balance on the outside ski. They look balanced on the skis but the kenetic chain doesn't work because they are not. The key to look for is a lack of any real edge.
Balance can be established on one foot without much pressure transfer so balancing on one foot still hold true in a wedge turn.
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