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Why a quiet upper body?

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Why the focus on abs, strong inside, strong core movements? Is it that in order for the lower body to be more active, the upper body has to act as a stabilizer?

How do you interpret "strong core" movements for yourself and for students?
post #2 of 45
Ya can't dance if you keep checking your pockets.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 11, 2002 05:05 PM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #3 of 45
I'm not sure I like "strong" anything. For me, that terminology implies some sort of muscle tensing. I don't think you flow with tight muscles.
post #4 of 45
If strong core strength were necessary for expert skiing on difficult terrain, I would be out of the sport. I do not even find strong core strength necessary for skiing moguls all day long.
Having said that, I do talk some to students about using core muscles. Many students use no core muscles at all and when entering the fall line, simply let their skis run away from under them, down hill. Its necessary to use some form of muscle power when entering the fall line and relaxing those muscles when turning out of the fall line to keep the skis under you. Letting students discover what muscles to use to accomplish keeping the skis under them is usually all it takes for the light bulb to go on. I explain that its easier to keep the skis under you right from the start of the turn than it is get them back under you half way through the turn. I stress throughout lessons that skiing is not about strength, its about finesse. Its suppose to be relaxing and the hill is suppose to do most of the work. I really don't get into shape before the start of ski season.
I can't deny the fact that intermediate skiers who are athletic will no doubt enjoy more of the mountain than couch potatos.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 12, 2002 06:56 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Pierre eh! ]</font>
post #5 of 45
Isn't this where Lisamarie does her talk on the distinction between core strength and core stability?
post #6 of 45
Thread Starter 
Let me check my understanding. I am hearing less than enthusiastic interest in "strong core movements," even some resistance, and, in Patrick's case, a bit of derision.

I have a friend who says, "What are we pretending not to know?"

Are we pretending that we can just ski with the feet, the heart, or the head?

The strong core is the basis for more sports than just skiing. I'd like to hear from some martial arts people about the chi, for example. It could be that "strong core" has more than just a physical meaning.

I teach three weekly classes for advanced adults. Next week my theme is "quiet upper-active lower" movements, and I am testing and soliciting some ideas here.
post #7 of 45
Maybe replace image of "strong" with "tonus optimus" or functional tension, just enough, and dynamically adjusting as needed.

To orig-Q: Yes, the stable mass of upper body (via it's momentum) allows the lighter feet to be active and agile. The smoother the path of the body the more active the feet can be (watch WC Slalom racers & mogul skiers). If you are moving the upper body around un-necesarily, one or both feet need to anchor to provide a leverage point from which to do so. Excessice arm movements (at 35-50# each) also have an inhibiting effect on agility, and balance as well.

On chi, I use a concept of "grounding" one's weight, or "settling". Bud Cook called it "weight underside" in an Akido workshop at the '80 Nat. Academy. It is the opposite of always pushing up and creating extra verticle tension in the body in unnatural conflict with gravity. One of my favorites is from Denise McCluggage's Center Skier where she talks about "grooving with gravity". I think of skiing as a "gravitational dance" where when we try to cause what we should allow, we only muck up the flow.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 12, 2002 08:09 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #8 of 45
I think the better way to see this Q is to rephrase nolobolono's Q -- if you don't mind, nb!

The issue isn't whether core strength is ESSENTIAL. Rather, the question is whether a solid foundation of well-toned core muscles make it easier to focus on movements below the waist.

To me, the answer is yes. All athletic activities are easier, and all muscle control comes more quickly and smoothly, if one is physically fit and one's muscles are well-toned and well-trained. This is the very same factor that makes training one's correct movements an essential part in making replicable good turns, etc. Remember the phrase "muscle memory"?

So, "strength" isn't essential, but it helps. I can go out and ride my mtb in March and still pull moves that I could do in October, they just aren't as replicable or reliable with my muscle tone being subnormal in early season.

Does that help, nb?
post #9 of 45
Derision? I'm sorry if you read my remark to imply derision. Its just a bit unusual to see a topic thst mentions core strength, and not see a detailed, enthusiastic reply from Lisamarie.
post #10 of 45
Thread Starter 
Good input, thanks.

Sorry Patrick. You must've hit a nerve with an earlier comment. I will forgive you and move on.

Arc, I tried something the other day on a long traverse out of the woods. I was skating rhythmically and letting my arms swing every which way to see if I could isolate the movements of the lower body from the upper body. It was fun and I think helped me practice a "core movement," because the quiet body enabled it all to work.

Gonzo, I think the strength I'm trying to convey is that of quiet strength, which I infer as isometric strength. When I turn to the left, I contract the left abs slightly. It creates resistance to the left-directed rotary movement of the lower body and stabilizes the turn.

I'm just checking my understanding here. Feedback is greatly appreciated.
post #11 of 45
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Arcmeister:
I think of skiing as a "gravitational dance" where when we try to cause what we should allow, we only muck up the flow.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Wow! Excellent.

Oz :
post #12 of 45
NB: You contract the LEFT abs slightly? This is an intentional tightening of a portion of the abdominal musculature system? Does this mean you relax the right side?

What sort of left turn is this (in terms of radius)? Is the purpose of countering the rotational movement of the lower body to keep your torso facing somewhere it otherwise would turn away from if you didn't do this tightening?
post #13 of 45
Thread Starter 

Tighten left abs for left turns, tighten right abs for right turns, any radius of turn.

It creates a slight counter, a slight elevation, and a slight lead on that side. Or, as an old coach said, "What's higher is ahead."

But instead of thinking about turning away from the direction of the turn, or a slight inside lead, or "what's higher is ahead," all that is required is a bit more tension on that side of the torso.
post #14 of 45
nolo: In Japan it's called "hara" ..... the center that is somewhere behind & below the solar plexus but not exactly the stomach so you are right on the money .... it is the core.

Many stances use tension/opposition that begins there ....... much like the lower body "rotates" around the quiet upper body.

What gave you the idea to explore there?
post #15 of 45
I'll have to think about this while I'm sliding tomorrow, I guess. It just sounds strange to me and I can't seem to grasp the concept of tightening a side that I normally think of lengthening.
post #16 of 45
Thread Starter 
I noticed that I was doing this with the abs and now I'm trying to understand how/why it works. Tension-opposition seems to be the dynamic here. Hara. I like that.

You might try it in the context of shuffle turns on an easy slope, which is what I was doing when I became aware of it.
post #17 of 45
Tighten left abs for left turns, tighten right abs for right turns, any radius of turn<<
This in effect, has the result of holding the inside ski back under your body where you can effectively steer it.
post #18 of 45
Thread Starter 
So the tension is from reining in the whole inside half from moving too far ahead of the outside half, eh, Pierre?
post #19 of 45

I'm not fond of the term "quiet upper body" because it often leads to students trying to hold their upper bodies still and rigid. I prefer to talk about disiplined, controlled and directed movements of the upper body that serve to compliment and enhance the movements that I am making with the lower body.

post #20 of 45
Can any of you Ski Instructors here teach my girl friends mother to have a quiet upper mouth?

post #21 of 45
Hey DB,
These guys may be good, but they're not miracle workers.
... Although, I'm sure Gonzo would try

post #22 of 45
Well, I went shuffling today and failed to find a spot that I wanted to tighten up or pull back or contain otherwise.

My view of shuffling, however, is that I keep pushing one foot slightly forward and then the other, and I keep trying to catch up with the skis. I really don't like the idea of pulling one ski back while I'm pushing the other forward. It leads to too long a shuffle, so that you lose contact with the boot cuff on one foot and you can't keep the weight equal.

For me, the goal of the shuffling exercise, much like Thousand Steps, is that the body moves diagonally like it should when you're entering a turn. If I shuffle too far (and for me, the arch of one boot should never get farther ahead than the toe of the other), then I don't move diagonally, I move laterally and end up on my heels. Likewise in Thousand Steps, if I move too lateral, the turn becomes a tail skid instead of a tip step.

Anyway, as I said before, I really don't like the idea of tensing up something that doesn't tense naturally. I think if I try to tense up my left side while turning left to insure I get a little counter to my position, I'm going to interfere with the sense of flow I like to feel. I'm going to need to untense that before I can move into the next turn.
post #23 of 45
Thread Starter 
It's pretty subtle, Kneale. When I shuffle, I use very small fore aft adjustments, not a Mr. Natural size foot slide.

See the article in latest TPS, Comparing Skiing Technique by Jull Matlock and Chris Fellows, pages 10-14.

"Powerful back, abdominal, and upper leg muscles all contirbute to create a strong torso that will allow a skier to stay in balance as the skis arc out, away, and back under the skier."
post #24 of 45
Thread Starter 
I should have titled this: why a strong torso?
post #25 of 45
There's tons of stuff in Fitness on that topic. Watch Bode Miller or Ivica Kostelic. Quiet upper body, fast, fluid legs.
post #26 of 45
Thread Starter 
Bethany, I think you got it:

A quiet upper body enables fast, fluid legs.

Print it!
post #27 of 45

Not to change the direction of this topic, but I have seen "Thousand steps" mentioned a few times.

What exactly is this excersise?


post #28 of 45
check this out: http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...&f=11&t=000044

Its a bit long, but in the middle there's some interesting core stuff.
post #29 of 45
Thousand steps is an edging/body movement exercise in which you make turns (starting out on gentle terrain) by stepping the tip of the inside ski into the turn and then stepping the tip of the outside ski into the turn, each step reengaging the appropriate edge of the ski. The task is to turn, say, left without having the tails of the skis go right. Success requires that you move the body inside the edges of both skis.
post #30 of 45

Why a quite upper body ? So you can make quick linked short turns. Your feet and legs move much more quickly when the upper body is separated from the lower body. Your legs and feet are far less massive than the rest of your body. Your core strength in part lets you resist against following the turn. The bonus in this is that the built up tension of doing this can be released at the beginning of the next turn thus helping you make that turn.

You see this all the time with very good skiers making quick, short, linked turns. Feet and legs moving rapidly back and forth across the fall line while the skiers body continues rather quitely down the slope.
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