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Balance - Page 2

post #31 of 318
Originally posted by milesb:
Maybe we should have wobble desks!
Ummmm - my computer seat is a physio ball
post #32 of 318
Thanks, disski, for letting us know first hand that not everyone has all the inate skills we take for granted, and your struggle to overcome the shortcomings, more power to you.

post #33 of 318
Balance is the key to all sports and movement. Ott the reason people have trouble transferring skills from walking to skiing is the movement restrictive device, the ski boot. Watch a beginner when they walk in skiboots for the first time. Their natural walking movements are inhibited and then we take them out on skiis. Balance can and should be taught. I spent a lot of time teaching balance last year and the results were amazing. In an exam I took last year, I received skepticism from an examiner over the effectiveness of teaching balance; I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to pass. I think this was a minority view in PSIA. Ansel Adams said that if you don’t know how to Photograph clouds after a while you will stop seeing them. Teaching balance works. Melf I would love to get a copy of your exercises.
post #34 of 318

I would like to try your exercises too.

I have found people's balance to improve markedly when they stop gripping with their feet, curling their toes, etc. I try for full sole contact and wiggly toes. Sometimes I ask people to imagine they are wearing ski boots built like the IMAC out of a see-through plastic and in their mind's eye to visualize their feet as they ski. Are you gripping or are you flexing, extending, everting, inverting, etc. How's the range of motion?

I have also found that you can tell who the good skiers are just by watching them walk up from the parking lot, and it's not just the gear and clothes. It's the fluid moves.
post #35 of 318
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by nolo:
I'd have to disagree with Ott. I think just about every instruction relates to improving a skier's balance. Walking has negative transfer to the extent that "perpendicular" to flat land is perceived as a whole 'nother thing than "perpendicular" to a slope, and walkers seek to replicate the experience of "flat land perpendicular" on a slope, which manifests as leaning uphill and back. At least that's what I surmise is the difficulty of balancing on a slope vs. balancing on a level sidewalk.
Nolo, every skiing movement relates to improving a skier's musculature. We all should get our bodies in condition before skiing, could the same be true of our balance? Thanks for your interest. Melf.
post #36 of 318
Hill&dale, you've got something there, the boot. It is cumbersome to walk in the boots, but they were not made for walking, and the superior support the afford also makes it easier for begnners to lean against the back of the shaft and still stay upright in a position, were it not for the support of the boots, they would fall over backward. Plus the length of the skis helps them in that. I saw boot skis a few years ago, trying to be marketed, which had runners under the boots, nothing else. Even experienced skiers had trouble staying upright

post #37 of 318
Hi all, guess I'll add my $.02 worth of thoughts.

Anyone ever walk briskly on a treadmill? I do sometimes. There is something different in the energy focus and how my body reacts. I think it's interesting. I'm moving my lower body but I'm not moving in space. Because of the fact that I'm not moving in space, I think my body is directing the energy in a more focused way to the point of contact. It seems that the further up my body I initiate my walking movements on a treadmill, the less efficient they are, the harder it is to stay in balance. The energy gets directed right to my feet. I really notice this when get off the treadmill and simply walk across the gym. My body is still in that focus of energy to the feet, and suddenly I'm moving across the gym almost without effort. Upperbody is still quite like it would be on the treadmill, so the feel for me is like I'm walking right down at my feet. Instead of my upper body initiating the walking direction and movement, my feet seem to be doing all the work. Anyone ever feel that difference? I've felt it every time I've gotten off a treadmill. Big difference in the energy required and the quiteness of the core. For me it's a cool feeling.

My Tai Chi Instructor recently left us with a walking exercise to play with. It was just that, walk with the focus of your feet initiating, propelling, and determining direction. There is a sublte but powerfull diference. When the movements come from the feet where we are grounded or rooted, the upper body stays more relaxed and balance in motion becomes, for me, more intuitive and an integral part of my movement. Maybe it's all mental, but I don't think so. I guess the diffence as I see it, is that one way you have the core initiating direction and the feet trying to move where they will be needed to suport the core in balance, or you have the feet initiating and moving the core to where it needs to be. In the latter case the feet are more likely to be where they are needed to balance the core, because they are initiating and controling movement. That's where I want to be in my skiing. Even though my whole body is skiing, when my feet are directing, the result is that the unity from top to bottom and thus my balance is in harmony. Now if I could just do that all the time when I ski.

Can you apply balance and walking skills to skiing? I think you can. Maybe not the same movements, but if we pay attention to what works with one we may find it can help in the other.

Root and focusing our energy too cosmic? [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #38 of 318
Not at all out there, Ric. Your post is full of stuff that I identify with--what's that about helping people understand what they already know? You've really tied the whole thread together in my mind. I don't think we have this Tai Chi you speak of in my cowtown. There's a bit of Bible study and some WeightWatchers, but no Tai Chi.
post #39 of 318
Disski is correct in saying that balance is lost if not practiced. And with age, it deteriorates. At the last Sports Medicine confernce I attended, the presentor said something that I found very significant. We all ooh and ah when we see Bode Miller regain his balance after practically wiping out. But an older person walking across an icy ski village in ski boots, whilst maintaining balance, is equally impressive.

Melf said that people condition their bodies for skiing, but not their balance. Therein lies a significant problem, one that I have spent much time ranting about in the health and fitness forum. [img]tongue.gif[/img] Training for strength, without integrating balance, will only have minimal effects on your skiing or athleticism.

You wanna' hear something scary? A recent study conducted by the National Academy Sports medicine has discovered that as sport and fitness equipment and footwear has become more sophisticated, ORTHOPEDIC INJURIES HAVE INCREASED!!!!

It has been speculated, but not yet proven, that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that the equipment has so much external stabilization that the persons natural stabilizers {transverse abs, multifitus, pelvic floor, eetc.] become detrained. Another point is that the footwear has so much "Stuff" in it, that people forget how to use their feet. [see the martial arts thread in fitness]

Speaking of feet, aa common tendency, which Nolo mentioned, is to clench the toes when nervous. This makes the base of support narrower, and thus impedes balnce. There are some way cool exercises for thjis that we will be doing at epicski academy! [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]
post #40 of 318
We have a community health program just started. They are running Tai Chi lessons & they are aimed at the elderly.

The idea is to decrease injuries from falls & to improve range of motion to aid things like arthritis
post #41 of 318
So if we immobilize the foot and lower leg using a ski boot we're in a strange situation for our brain. As we start to lose balance the brain signals the foot/leg to make corrections, but it can't! It's just along for the ride. To retain balance, the brain needs to learn to send corrective messages to other parts of the body. Still gets input from the feet and ears about balance but needs to tell the torso or whatever to move. Am I getting this right? Therefore it makes sense to practice some balance excercises in ski boots, Right?
post #42 of 318
Well I'm glad to read the general sentiment here. I had begun to wonder if focussing on balance issues in skiing was a bad thing, like the guy this season said. I knew he was wrong, but what do you do? He was senior at my resort.

Nolo's thing about toe clenching...so true. Many of my nervous ladies were doing just that: it made their feet cramp up, and limited their ability to deal with being on a moving platform on varying terrain.
And LM's thing about more injuries as sports equipment improves...YES! I'm a walking mess of overuse injuries, but never had a problem until I traded in bare feet/plain tennis shoes for my first pair of REAL runners - some Nike airs. My feet stopped working when the shoes took over.
post #43 of 318
What I'm wondering is which should you work on Balance or Stance. If skier says they have bad balance do they really mean they have bad body position?
post #44 of 318
No balance IS ACTIVE - I can stand just fine - i have trouble balancing!
post #45 of 318
I'll explain myself better. In your case you have trouble balancing. If you learn proper body position (proper ski stance) you will be more centered on the skis and challenge your balance skills less. The feedback to your brain won't be your sense of balance but your sense of pressure. You'll feel the your weight on the balls of your feet and pressure from the boot tongue on your shin(s). Figure out how the pressure shifting about on your foot corresponds to the weight shifting fore and aft on your skis. This will should enable you to stay in the centered on your skis.

Question for everbody.
Bode Miller is said to have incredible balance skills/athletic ability, so why is he is often on the tails of his skis? Why is he in the back seat, "out of balance"?
post #46 of 318
I think in Bode's case it's what he's used to. He's developed the ability to operate in less than ideal balance. He's more comfortable being "unbalanced" than most people are being balanced. Then again, his high DNF ratio in technical events is also a result of that. After the Olympics, we seem to have forgotten that Bode had more than a few dry seasons on the World Cup due to his tendancy to bail.

Guys like Stephan Eberharter, Michael Von Gruenigen, or Kjetil Andre Aamodt are more balanced, and as a result, more consistant. Watching Von Gruenigen ski is really like a study in economy of motion.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have 1/10th of Bode's ability, but he's not the guy I'd pick to emulate. Put it this way- will Bode ski like he does now when he's as old as Eberharter or Von Gruenigen, and will he win? I know from my own experience that I can't get away with the same stuff I was able to 10 years ago.
post #47 of 318
Outstanding thread! Being of a "certain age", I've been working on balance stuff/core strength for the past year - stability ball, Bosu, and have used some of the exercises that were linked on this forum. I can't wait to see if I can tell the difference in my skiing. I hope I haven't just gotten better at standing on one leg in my house or the gym. Seriously, I do notice improvements in just everyday things, e.g., I can carry a cup of coffee up the stairs without it sloshing and spilling. Regarding the toe curling, I've noticed that when I do the one-legged stance thing on my weaker side, I tend to curl my toes, while on the stronger leg my foot feels balanced.

Question for Lisamarie: Can you recommend a good Pilates video? I'm doing a class once a week (and miss about half of them) - just mat exercises - and would like to be able to do more on my own.

It's a challenge fitting in all the fitness work - cardio, strength, balance, flexibility - but it's all important for me.

The energy on the Forum seems to be way up - must be the snow!!!
post #48 of 318
Disski, learning movement is hard, even for those of us with good proprioception. We don't ski in a position or a stance, we ski by moving, or flowing into and through positions fluidly. But I think what Nord was saying, (maybe I'm wrong here), is that through learning good static stance and developing a solid stuctural awareness, we can then focus on changing positions and moving while maintaining that rooted feeling of our relaxed static position. Moving with sructural integrity. I don't think this is something that can be taught, but I think it's something that can be learned through guided discovery. I'm on a guided discovery with this subject myself this fall.

With the traverse between turns, I think you are correct. How many of us don't go there once in a while? Trying to reestablish our unity or srtuctural integrity before moving on.

I find this subject so fasinating. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #49 of 318
Ric - I know it isn't easy for anyone to teach movements. I have been VERY lucky to find some TERRIFIC instructors - people with open minds who would think about ways to show me what I would not be able to learn on my own.(ever thought about how to TEACH someone to move a joint?)

The person who gave me that article link was a dance teacher who specialised in taking all those that no-one else would teach - TOO HARD. She now does research into proprioception. Does that surprise anyone?

The balance in a position was always the easiest - feel feet - learn the feel - it is not disimilar to fencing. The movements were harder - because unlike fencing where my master could actually hold & move a limb in slow motion until I learnt the move - my skis would get in the way of someone trying to do that on snow(I think). I have STILL had movement lessons though where I have been physically moved through part of a movement - just to feel what it was.

Also one instructor who skied whole turns for me memorising the pressure on boot cuffs & then 'replayed' it to me as pressure on an arm as we 'walked down' those 2 turns.

As I have learnt to move bits of me the learning becomes simpler - I can move more bits on request - just need to work out how to adjust speed & intensity & timing of moves.
post #50 of 318
Originally posted by Ric B:
...a solid stuctural awareness, we can then focus on changing positions and moving while maintaining that rooted feeling of our relaxed static position. ... [img]smile.gif[/img]
Structural awareness = ????

from that article
"We all know about the senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch, but none of these can explain how we can 'feel' if our arms or legs are in the right position when we are dancing. This information comes from receptors in our muscles, tendons and joints.

From these we can learn the following information:

1. A sense of position
For example, we can 'feel' that our feet are in first position or that our arms are in second position, without having to look to check.
post #51 of 318
Originally posted by NordtheBarbarian:
I'll explain myself better. In your case you have trouble balancing. If you learn proper body position (proper ski stance) you will be more centered on the skis and challenge your balance skills less. The feedback to your brain won't be your sense of balance but your sense of pressure. You'll feel the your weight on the balls of your feet and pressure from the boot tongue on your shin(s). Figure out how the pressure shifting about on your foot corresponds to the weight shifting fore and aft on your skis. This will should enable you to stay in the centered on your skis.

Oh that IS how I balance - unfortunately the sense of pressure in my feet requires CONSCIOUS effort - not subconscious.

The problem is that does NOT teach movement. Hence I was balanced over the skis - but skied like a ROCK. I avoided skiing over any terrain that would require a CHANGE in that position to be balanced. I would 'squawk' at each ripple in the snow - because it affected my foot pressure & hence made balance maintenance difficult. I DID NOT MOVE at all!
I LOVED hardpack - it was CONSISTENT under ski/foot.
post #52 of 318
Learning a position is never that hard for me.


Umm like this says Ithink


Oh & once upon I time I was described as being ROCK solid on my skis - but was told that ROCKS don't ski very well.... [img]redface.gif[/img]

[ November 02, 2002, 12:38 AM: Message edited by: disski ]
post #53 of 318
Umm - this may just be my blather but there is often comments about skiers who TRAVERSE between turns - could it possibly be that these students are simply RETURNING to a balanced POSITION they have been taught(SAFETY) in order to regain balance.

Perhaps they need to be taught how to do the MOVES rather than the POSITION someone wants - as in that dance article - don't 'tweak the body' teach how to use it....
post #54 of 318
Well, I think it's about maintaining balance while moving...I'm sure others have explained it better. I have pinched one of Bob's explanations to explain it to my guests...I liken it to standing on the back of a ute (most of us have done that at some point), and we go through what happens when the ute speeds up (we rock back onto our heels, then come back into neutral) and what happens when the driver puts his food on the brake (we pitch forward, then come back to neutral). So we do this, and the guests get a better idea of what this thing is we're aiming for, the ability to come back into neutral after any movement without struggle. I also liken it to standing on the deck of a boat, dealing with the movement underneath.

Then we do the various drills, with them understanding what it's all for.
post #55 of 318
Susie, if you already doing Pilates, as well as Stability ball work, check out http.www.stottpilates.com

There are some new Pilates on the ball videos they put out. I've been to workshops with both the presenters, and they are quite good. There are 4 different ones, which, coincidentally, I just purchased today. You can either take a chance, or wait for me to see them all, which may take awhile!

[ November 02, 2002, 04:45 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #56 of 318
"Structural awareness = ????" This is a term I came across this fall that really jumped out at me. To me, and I think also to person who used it, it means developing an awareness about the different parts of our body, their relationship to each other, how their position in relation to each other affects the other, how moving one affects the other, ect. To me there is a big difference in understanding where our body is in space, and understanding what it takes for our structure to maintain its position and/or movements, and how one part and it's position or movements affects another through their relationship. In this respect I see skiing as no different than walking or anything else. We're still connected to the earth at one point, or two I should say, we still have our parts connected the same, their relationships to each other are still the same. We change the context, but is there anything else that really changes? How can I read the forces and react to them if I am unaware of the relationship of my parts and how they work together. How can I have overall balance without having structural balance between my parts, my sides, and my energy invested.

It's a deep subject and nothing new, I'm simply developing for myself this awareness. I have a long way to go, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. A better focus for me for paying attention.
post #57 of 318
Melf, your might try the book "The Skiers Edge" by Ron LeMaster, 1999.

PS: If anyone thinks that balance is something that does not and/or cannot be taught and that includes on skis/snowboards, running shoes, etc., discuss this with a gymnastic coach who teaches the "balance" beam.
post #58 of 318
Thanks FFF - I keep saying that - if I can be taught anyone can - after all my natural ability is pretty much zip!
post #59 of 318
WOW! I never thought about traversing between turns as a means of regaining structural integrety. That makes SO much sense!
I have to agree with disski that balance is something that can be learned. I spent practically my entire childhood in ace bandages from constsntly spraining my ankles.Seems to run in my family. My mom is constantly falling. If I did not learn to ski, which MOTIVATED me to improve my balance, I'd probably be in crutches by now.
post #60 of 318
Well LM - whatdo you think about the traverse = return to 'balanced pose' theory - it FEELS like that to me. I KNOW I still TRY to do that when I'm worried - return to posed position I've learnt.
We know I don't quite work right though... how does it feel to you?
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