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Balance - Page 3

post #61 of 318
Considering I ski like a freakin New York Times crossword puzzle, I think you may be on to something!
post #62 of 318
[ November 09, 2002, 10:28 AM: Message edited by: mosh ]
post #63 of 318
This balance thing is skiing in a nut shell.

Here are some things to chew on. Lisamarie you probably never realized that you were rebalancing during the traverse but you do it unconsiously. When we begin to meet the fall line is when we loose it. Then as we start to come out of the turn we are put into a more parallel state with gravity. This is what all beginners are painfully aware of. They love the traverse and hate the fall line. This rarely changes we just learn to accept it more. The same feeling can be brought to life if you take an accomplished skier on blue runs and throw them into a black one the tension returns to haunt them immediately.

So what is my point? I agree and would appreciate some help letting the world know that there is a difference between skiing balance, and walking balance. We learn to balance as children. We learn by falling down where vertical is. Once this lesson is deeply engrained in our software we forget about it, but it is always there. We don't think about it when we stand up to go to the bathroom. Or the thousands of other things we do.

We do not ski nearly as often as we walk. While skiing we need to be in positions for long periods of time that normally if occured while walking could be fatal. This means that we need to learn that these frightening positions are not going to mean our end. These places are places that the unconscious sense of balance has been thought for years to avoid with every fiber of its being. We are asking this finly tuned balancing machine to be able to shut itself off when it is being challenged the most.

The equivalent to asking the missile defense program to ignore incoming ballistic missiles from Sadam.

So there is a consious and an unconsiuos sence of place. walking is unconsious and paralell to gravity. Consious balance begins when soom fool tells you that you can defy gravity while careening down a mountain on skis. Not the most convinsing argument. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

So I hope that this can shine a ray of light on a situation that I feel sees very little light. Understanding that this paradigm exists is the first step in teaching balance. Know where the fear starts and work from there. Telling people to lean forward when they ski is just not going to cut it.
:
post #64 of 318
Mosh, that was just so briliant, I'm afraid to add to it, but I will anyway!

For me, part of the problem started on my second lesson, when the instructor taught us the traverse, and told us to use it when we felt ourselves getting into trouble. A far better move would be teaching the side slip at a very early stage.

I am consciously aware of the fact that I am realigning myself on the traverses. That is the one area where Pilates DOES NOT carry over to skiing. The "mindful" finding of position prior to moving just does not work on the ski slope. The challenge is to take what you have learned from any of the body awareness techniques, and trust that it has intuitively given you a more efficient movement style.

I think that people often do not trust their balance skills. I do some things in the gym that some ski instructors think are psycho, but get me on the hill, and I still believe I am the little girl with the constantly sprained ankle. Confidence, quite often develops much more slowly than skill.

As far as just telling a student to lean down the hill, that's the sign of an amateur. The real pros can determine what structural misalignments, whether physical or equipment wise, are causing the student to lean back in the first place!
post #65 of 318
Quote:
Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Considering I ski like a freakin New York Times crossword puzzle, I think you may be on to something!
lol. I can't quite get a visual on that, but it's still pretty funny.
post #66 of 318
This thread is very fascinating because we all have a certain level of balance, but static balance is to maintain an equilibrium between objects at rest.

As skiers, we are being forced to continuously adjust our balance, ie-dynamic balance or balance in motion, so that we remain able to stay on our feet and move in a particular direction of choice.

Someone mentioned, that he frequently trips or stumbles on curbs and uneven or misaligned stairs. I don't believe that this is as much a balance matter as it is an under-development of proprioception. Proprioception as I understand it, and I will be happy to defer to Lisa-Marie, is the body's ability to recognize where a body part is relative to another object.

For instance, when we are walking down stairs, which may not be familiar to us, even then as we proceed the body quickly determines where the next step is, relative to those that we have just walked on.

Is this more of a balance matter or is it a matter of how to use our body parts, to maintain dynamic balance through some other development, such as improving our body's ability to use more active proprioception? How we control and develop dynamic balance as skiers is what I find to be the real issue here, not balance for balance's sake.

To control and enhance dynamic balance I have found that placing a slight amount of controlled tension in the ankle joint provides a slight advantage when I have hit an icy patch or some other condition, that interrupts the continuously flowing rhythm of the direction I'm traveling. To that end in particular,I find that slightly closing the ankle joint keeps enough tension in the joint, to provide enough resistance to maintain a solidly balanced stance with my feet / skis under me. This allows me to ski ever changing conditions and terrain including bumps, crud, and ice patches, which otherwise would have thrown my balance far enough off to have caused me to take a digger.

On a side note, but very applicable here, I watched the vertical gravity games for In-line skates tonight. What's remarkable is that even as they pulled off twists, spins, and flips, their feet and center of mass remained in line with each other through this high pitched exhibition of extreme dynamic balance.

Frequently their feet were ahead of their bodies and their bodies were ahead of their feet. Each would then catch up with the other during landings, in a relationship that provided a continuously flowing series of movement patterns that complemented each other. It was truly amazing to watch.

Last I would also offer that our coaches are required to train in the early season on sno-blades, for the specific reasons this entire thread was based on. We introduced this concept about three seasons ago, to attempt to improve their skill development in balance. We train with and without poles, so that they are trained to work the turns and edge engagement and release from their feet only. What we have seen develop is that the coaches who have embraced this element of training have significantly improved their personal skiing movement patterns and in particular their dynamic balance. Their peers have not!!!

Thanks to everyone for wading through this long post. Hopefully some of it may stick. Think snow!!!!!!!!

: whtmt :
[img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

[ November 14, 2002, 08:27 PM: Message edited by: whtmt ]
post #67 of 318
Quote:
Originally posted by whtmt:

Someone mentioned, that he frequently trips or stumbles on curbs and uneven or misaligned stairs. I don't believe that this is as much a balance matter as it is an under-development of propriaception. Propriaception as I understand it, and I will be happy to defer to Lisa-Marie, is the body's ability to recognize where a body part is relative to another object.

For instance, when we are walking down stairs, which may not be familiar to us, even then as we proceed the body quickly determines where the next step is, relative to those that we have just walked on.

Is this more of a balance matter or is it a matter of how to use our body parts, to maintain dynamic balance through some other development, such as improving our body's ability to use more active propriaception? How we control and develop dynamic balance as skiers is what I find to be the real issue here, not balance for balance's sake.

[img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
Whtmt -that was ME - & I have NO proprioception. Itwas in reply to Ott stating that balance doesn't need to be taught because we can ALL walk.

As I kept(& keep on saying) learning 1 balanced pose is relatively easy - laerning movement is HARD - check that link I posted - it gives one of the best summaries of proprioception & what it does for you I have seen. Also how to 'train' it.
post #68 of 318
Quote:
Originally posted by whtmt:

To control and enhance dynamic balance I have found that placing a slight amount of controlled tension in the ankle joint provides a slight advantage when I have hit an icy patch or some other condition, that interrupts the continuously flowing rhythm of the direction I'm traveling. To that end in particular,I find that slightly closing the ankle joint keeps enough tension in the joint to provide enough resistance to maintain a solidly balanced stance with my feet / skis under me. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
& HOW do you 'put tension in the ankle joint' ? or 'Close the ankle joint'?
PROPRIOCEPTION
- tells you the amount of TENSION in a muscle/tendon.
- tells you the amount of angle in a joint
- tells you the amount of rotation in a joint

Maintaining dynamic balance requires proprioception - when you are off balance the way you 'know' what bit has to move to get back in balance is through your brain assessing all the info from all those joints & muscles. As your brain gets more practice(teaching????) it gets BETTER at making those calls. Your inherent level hasn't changed - but the level you now have available to you HAS!

Those with POOR natural levels will ALWAYS need to work at it - just for simple tasks(Like walking a straight line heel to toe).
Those of you with GREAT natural ability will cope at a much higher level without training. If you want to get REALLY good it helps to TRAIN the body in the way you want to use it. Much of the training can be in doing. Some stuff you may not learn that easily just by watching/doing - it may NOT be obvious until someone points it out.
post #69 of 318
Quote:
Originally posted by mosh:
This balance thing is skiing in a nut shell.

So what is my point? I agree and would appreciate some help letting the world know that there is a difference between skiing balance, and walking balance. We learn to balance as children. We learn by falling down where vertical is. Once this lesson is deeply engrained in our software we forget about it, but it is always there. We don't think about it when we stand up to go to the bathroom. Or the thousands of other things we do.

The equivalent to asking the missile defense program to ignore incoming ballistic missiles from Sadam.

So there is a consious and an unconsiuos sence of place. walking is unconsious and paralell to gravity. Consious balance begins when soom fool tells you that you can defy gravity while careening down a mountain on skis. Not the most convinsing argument. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

So I hope that this can shine a ray of light on a situation that I feel sees very little light. Understanding that this paradigm exists is the first step in teaching balance. Know where the fear starts and work from there. Telling people to lean forward when they ski is just not going to cut it.
:
So Mosh, what's happening when we as little kids start running and balancing while running in circles? Is this something we have to learn anew. Or sliding on ice. We find it very natural to move our balance into these new contexts, so why is skiing diferent? Why is skiing different than rolleblading, ice skating, running, jumping, or rideing a bike. Most of us transfer our balance skills into these other activities very naturaly. Why? I think because no one is telling us it's different. We let our bodies naturally and instictively do what it does so well.

There is, the equipment we need to learn to relate to though. Having spent countless hours skinny skiing all over creation, and much of that time spent helping others learn, (not in a pro sense, just helping), I always found it interesting that many found it easier to balance in flimsy shoes on snow as opposed to stiff boots, and therin lies the difference I think. Our foot and ankle movements are restricted. We actually need to move less to achieve more.

Personaly I don't think it has any thing to do with moving or not moving, what forces are acting on us, or whether we are parallel to the ground or not, because we unconciously move between these differences in many other things we do. I do think you mentioned one factor that plays a big role, and that's fear. Our fear can block us from allowing our natural instincual balnceng movements to work, which I see as being worlds apart from learning a new way to balance. And certainly if I tell someone they will have to learn a new way to balance, they will "have" to learn a new way to balance.

I'm gonna continue to tell people that if they can walk across the snow to the lesson they have the basic inherent skills to ski. My job is then to help them understand how to apply to these skills to skiing. They also know how to balance, I just gotta help them to not think about it differently, but to think about it the same. Our connection remains the same. And the other forces we create in skiing are no different than gravity in how we deal with them, we just need to direct them right back through our feet, or our connection point just like we do with gravity. May be we're just coming at the same thing from an opposite direction. Thanks for the stimulating post. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #70 of 318
Ric, Ok i agree that it is not actually a new different kind of balance per say.
We are using all the same muscles and nerves and balancing ability in a new and different way. All the activities you mentioned use dynamic balance, however they are all done on horizontal playing fields with the exception of riding a bike. the fact that when you run you can inclinate is not the same as inclinating on an incline slope. at least for your inner ear. It can not tell the difference from a slope or flat ground. you will almost always use your ankle to eradicate the slope when walking allowing the torso and especially the head to remain parallel to gravity. This is the fundamental difference .

Someone else took the words from my mouth when comparing the slope to the way trees grow. they grow straight away from gravity. Just like we stand habitually. Even when we ski.

Teach skiing in any country in any language the one common problem is not equipment or communication it is that as humans we balance the way the trees grow. To stand perpendicularly to a slop goes against everything that we have taught ourselves about surviving as long as we have.

This is by the way the trigger for the fear you speak of. The second that we leave parallel to gravity our inner gyroscope sense this and hits the panic button we feel this as fear, uncontrollable fear and what is really happening is the automatic righting response in the musculature. that is the stomach flipping feeling. or fear. It is all very connected. But as an instructor you want to connect with a frightened student it would be a great thing to be able to explain to someone why they are afraid for no good reason.

[ November 10, 2002, 08:49 AM: Message edited by: mosh ]
post #71 of 318
Mosh, I don't know enough about the science behind the inner to really say whether it interprets a slope or whether it deals with forces other than gravity differently, I do think however that a child will run down a circular slide with the same agility as they do on the level field when they are simply playing and not trying to achieve a stated goal. And as I said before, I have seen people who didn't think a thing about skiing down a cross country trail, and our trails around here aren't flat, have tremendous trouble doing the same in alpine equipment. It's actually rather common in my experience. What's the difference? I think it can many things, but I'm not convinced it's the inner ear. I think definetly our brain is involved, but I think it's more of something interfereing with our balance as opposed to our balance needing to relearn something. And I always feel the more we disengage the brain and allow our body to funtion naturally the better off we are. Educate me on the inner ear. What science tells me my inner ear functions differently moving down a slope as opposed to moving across the flat? Maybe you're saying that our brain reacts differently to the data coming from inner ear because of the visual context it sees? I'm not trying to be contrary, but I am trying to find a way to embrace what you say, and to expand my understanding, but I guess I'm not there yet. [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #72 of 318
Ric,

I think the key point here is:

Quote:
as we start to come out of the turn we are put into a more parallel state with gravity.
I'm not sure I agree with us being in a more parallel state, but we have arrested the fall. We are back to the comfort zone. It sets up a habit that will have to be broken for the skier to progress, which is based on the erroneous idea that "a turn is what we do between traverses." If we teach that the traverse is a place to rest and recombobulate, I think it teaches "serial turning" and makes gravity the opponent instead of the assistant.

Rather, I think of a turn as starting when I exit the fall-line, not when I enter the fall-line. There is no traverse. There is no rest. If you have a screw-up, you don't have to fix it, just accept it and catch up on the next turn. The nice thing about relative weightlessness is it enhances the body's natural inclination to be in functional alignment. The fall-line is actually a much better place to regain balance and re-align than the traverse.
post #73 of 318
The things that impede balance are so numerous, that it would be impossible to mention them in one thread. A few things to consider are inner ear problems, visual acuity, weak core muscles {TRANSVERSE, NOT RECTUS!!!} and postural misalignment. On a deeper level, someone who has been in any accident such as being hit by a car, can possibly have minute tearing of the brain tissue. Although this may not show up in an MRI, it may in fact effect balance. Certain gastroinstestinal problems create inflammation, which in turn may may core activation difficult.

As has been mentioned a number of times, someone who has susffered from many ankle sprains as a child will have very little proprioception in their lower leg.

I am of the personal, not scientific opinion, that many {not all} people who decide to make a living coaching skiing, have little if none of the anatomical, physiological or visceral factors effecting balance. Research has also shown us that certain people have a more actively innervated transverse abdominal muscle, even if they do no physical training for it.

Unfortunately, this is why ski instruction often fails. For the coach, the balance involved in skiing is in fact as natural as walking down to the slopes. But for the first day student with "stuff" going on, who has fallen about 4 times prior to getting to the lesson, this is not the case. What proceeds is a breakdown in communication. The coach then assumes its all in the students head, tells them to read some psycho babble book, complete with corny new age affirmations, and then, bye bye student.

Realizing that lack of balance is not all in the students head is the first step to improved instruction.
post #74 of 318
Well I'm not sure I bought what I understood was being said myself. And I'm not coming from this from a scientific perspective either, but through my observations and experience. Something I heard Jack Horner say in a documentary one time really stuck with. Quote "If it's not falsifiable, it's not science" Which I interpret to mean only through laying out what you think and your theories and holding them against others ideas do we find the truth, or science. It's got to be tested. I'm speaking of my ideas.

The whole concept of coming back to parallel and only then being truly in balance I'm not sure about. What can I say. I think I would prefer to say moving through a state of unity, where all things are in balance with our body, not just with gravity and the other forces, but with each part also. Half empty and half full at the same time.

Ijuries and disabilities aside, don't all our bodies balance with the same physical functions? Not all equal or at the same level of course, but utilizing the same mechanisms.

Lisamarie I don't like psycobable (spelling) either, but I do draw a distincton between saying that our mind is at times our worst enemy and saying that we need therapy or some such. Not that i would go around saying this to students, but I do think part of what I do as an instructor is to help my students develop trust in their bodies natural ability to do the right thing when it's required. Correct if I'm wrong but I thought this was the basic point Galloway was making in his book that I read.
Thanks everone.
post #75 of 318
This is a great discussion. My thoughts are;
I feel that most balance problems in skiing can be traced back to lesson one. The balance issue is overshadowed by the desire to get them skiing. A lot of the new instructors teaching level one do not have high balance skills. They see the time spent on balance as not productive. This leaves learner with a balance deficit that is more difficult to work with later.

Another issue at all levels and particularly level one, is fear. I have seen a lot of good skiing progress destroyed by pushing too much slope on people too soon. This usually results in a, “save the head syndrome”, where the head and consequently the upper body is moved away from the direction of travel leading to “back seat” problems. Fear at the beginner level can show as stiffening of one leg, always the same leg, while the other is slightly flexed.

A third issue is boot alignment. It has a big influence on balance. Over the past five or six years I have had custom foot beds, cants, heel lifts and various boot adjustments. They all seemed to bring improvement but the alignment I had done last year changed my skiing dramatically. I have never been better balanced.

The inner ear: some training I had, led me to believe that the canals in the inner ear sense rotational acceleration or in plain speak “spinning” There was no indication that they were the source of leveling information. I am no expert on ear, can anyone shed light on this.
post #76 of 318
Ah the wonders of google .....

quick summary

more detail

post #77 of 318
Well in the interest of us all being the best we can be. I would like to share with you a little that I think I know about the ear, and balance. This by no means is the entire story.

In the ear there is what is known as the semicircular canal. I understand that this is filled with fluid. The canal itself has small hair like things that move when the fluid moves in the canal. These fibers are actually nerves; I believe they are connected to the proprioseption system directly. This is our inner gyroscope if you will. This system is huge it is connected to almost every muscle and joint and more throughout the body. The way this entire system works is amazing actually, but for now lets just stick to this story.

This ear senses some things, it knows when you are accelerating or decelerating in any direction. Put yourself in a car for instance, when you speed away at a green light with your eyes closed you would be able to tell that you were moving depending on the driver and type of car you can tell if you are accelorating rapidly or slowly. If you are going a constant 60mph on smooth roads with your eyes closed your body would register this as not moving at all. So in review, we know and are aware of when we are speeding up and slowing down. Standing still is the same as going the same speed for a while.

This is interesting thing because If this only registers when we accelerate and decelerate what we want from our students is to find that place where they are going a constant speed this is the only time that they will begin to feel comfort. Fearless movements. (Or the slow line fast)

Mental exercise we have all slept in the car. Why because going a constant speed our brain believes that it is still and can relax. Once asleep we feel the wonder of dreams until someone slows down quickly. What happens,,, we wake up immediately. Any augments? Well assuming that this is true, this is partial proof of what I have said.

In simple terms we need to know as instructors that acceleration provokes fear and defensive muscular contractions namely quadriceps which force you into a rearward position. Constant speed will inspire confidence to try new things. Also constant speed will allow exploration of new movements and an ability to work from a more perceptual mode.

This is exactly why we teach turn shape even to beginners. With an appropriate turn shape we can achieve this constant speed or Terminal Velocity where we then can begin to teach the subtleties of skiing.
That is the short story of the inner ear and how I have seen it working. I apologize for the length of this I just think that this is the most important thing in teaching skiing.
post #78 of 318
Why apologize, Melf? I read Hill and Dale's comment about the inner ear not having much to do with balance at about 2:00 am, and I said "no, no, I CANNOT start writing on this now!"

So better you than me! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Keep in mind, everything is related. If someone has a weak core, they will be making strange adjustments with their upper body in a futile to attempt to get their center of mass over their base of support. Since this effects the alignment of the head, it will in turn effect the vestibular system, which will in turn effect balance.
post #79 of 318
Thanks for the link Disski. I see that the DR. gives vision as integral part of our balance. The trouble with vision is that it allows us to see into future, or where we will be futher on down the trail, which may set us up to balancing in ways or reacting to situations before we are actually there. Anticipating a result that may not have to be. In some ways overriding our bodies natural abilities with those loud voices in our head. Our "nag" as Blakslee calls it. Skiing in a white out can be almost imposible soometimes, yet a blind person can ski. They can't see where to go, but they can balance on their skis and give themselves direction. What a piece of work our body is.

Mosh, I'm with you here. Maybe it's because you didn't use the word tilt. I got hung up on that. Anyway, we do need to keep them in their comfort zone, for productive exlporation and change to take place. I totaly agree. On the otherhand, beginers haven't got a comfot zone yet. With beginers and to some extent all of us, I see balance lying down the path of trust and believing as well as down the path of technique and form. They have to believe they have it in them. And I see this as a very important job of mine. They have to see that I believe in them and their abilities. I can't teach balance, but I can set up the enviroment, physical and mental, of the lesson in a way that will help them find the belief in themselves and the trust in their bodies to make that first attempt, and all the otherrs during the lesson. Only then will they find it for themelves. Whether they fell 4 times walking over from ther rental or not. Sure it's natural to fall when we do somethng new, but it's also natural to balance too, and our bodies will if we trust them enough to let it happen. Turn shape can only come after that willingness to slide forward on to that tilted (sorry [img]redface.gif[/img] ) surface of snow.

Our beginer area is right next to where the adaptive program is housed. It's all volunteer but a very large program. There's one guy who sit skis who has no legs and it appears like he has no hips either. This guy really rocks. He flies down the groom in high gs turns, really quite amazing fellow. What's interesting is to watch the reaction of first timers to him walking on the his closed fists, with his big round leather shoe on his torso, right next to the group. They stare, they ask questions like, what's he doing here? Can he ski? How does he do it? Where do his skis go? I tell them he's an acomplished skier, that he flies down the hill, making big turns going fast in his sit ski. It really interesting to see their reactions after he's come and gone. Quite often I see a change in the attitude. Their belief in themselves grows. They understand in a clearer way that just about anyone can ski, that we all have the physical skills to slide down the hill and have fun doing it. Not sure where I'm going here other than I see my role in developing trust belief and desire as imortant as giving them technique and form to work on. sorry for the long post and hopefully I tied this into balance. Thanks again everyone.
post #80 of 318
Disski thanks for the research; I didn’t know the inner ear could also process linear acceleration.

Since acceleration is the change in motion, the inner ear would not detect constant motion. Most of us on this form are traveling to the east at about 700 miles an hour and we are unaware of it. So maybe we are using something else, say our eyes? I definitely use my eyes a lot skiing, but I also teach a lot of blind and vision-impaired skiers and I practice blind skiing quite often. I am quite comfortable with it. I think most people can learn to do blind skiing proficiently.
So what do you all think is providing the balance guidance in this no eyes situation?
post #81 of 318
Proprioception!

In the more detailed link (I think) they did comment on the interconnections. It is at a very basic level in the brain. All that input from all those sources goes to make balance work. You get 'motion sickness' when the inputs don't match.
post #82 of 318
Also, did anyone ever see the film Wait Until Dark? All the other senses are heightened, which would probably enhance proprioception. I would once again suspect, although no scientific proof exists, that the transverse muscles become more active to compensate for the disability.
post #83 of 318
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Lisamarie:
[QB]Why apologize, Melf? I read Hill and Dale's comment about the inner ear not having much to do with balance at about 2:00 am, and I said "no, no, I CANNOT start writing on this now!"

Lisamarie, I do not recall apologizing, however if it was needed I am certainly glad that I did.

A few more comments. It seems that these postings can gain a life of their own. I have learned quite a lot from the various comments, etc. But, one thing has not been addressed. If I want to improve my balance, how do I do it, where do I go, whom do I talk to? Everyone is still agreeing that balance is a wonderful and needed thing, but I do not believe the original question has been answered.
Melf
post #84 of 318
It may be a case of Nature vs. Nurture but "This Happened to Me" Saturday afternoon.

After helping out at our local ski and skate sale Sat. morning, I accompanied my 10 year old son to soccer tryouts for the travel team. He had picked out a pair of ice skates at the sale, so we stopped by the sport shop to get them sharpened on our way back home.
On the sales floor at the sport shop they keep a Voo Doo board for anyone to try. It looked well used.

My son stepped lightly onto this "balance enhancement" device and proceeded to rock and roll with carefree abandon. Not too shabby, I thought, since we don't have one of those, nor have I heared of one at any of his friends. He rides snow board, but doesn't skate board (They are no fun in the dirt).

He made it look so easy, I thought I should at least give it a go.

Wrong!
The first step on the board had the thing flying off to nearly maim someone. After all the apologies and the redness left my face, it took about a minute just to stand still on the thing with both ends in the air. Definitely a relearning curve there.
So there is a way to develop balance.

www.gopivot.com for a similar device.

CalG

"Bliss it was at that dawn to be alive. To be young, was very heaven" Wadsworth.
post #85 of 318
Get some body armor and a unicycle, melf.

Seriously, do things that 1) refine and 2) extend your movement repertoire, accenting activities which transfer positively to skiing (most do). Field running, streambed running, soccer, skating, bicycling, unicycling, sailing, step aerobics, basketball, ping pong, tennis, bongo board (in my case, a piece of plywood on a can of beans), yoga, martial arts, dance, gymnastics, diving, walking a pole fence, standing on your head, skiing on one ski, skiing on the inside ski, thousand steps, pivot slips, hop turns, shuffle turns, traverse on uphill ski, royal christie, tip rolls ... all this stuff will enhance balance.

Balance is a big issue in all movement. People who move a lot and over a wide range of activities in their daily lives will improve their balance. I think this is true regardless of one's physical gifts. Use it or lose it.

If you seek all-encompassing balance, you might try Thomas Crum's Journey to the Center seminar or study Zen. Learn the middle position. That's the balance that I'd like to learn.
post #86 of 318
“A curious thing about balance is that people usually expect to find that balancing is a fairly simple process, since nearly everyone can perform the routine balancing acts of everyday existence, without having think about what they are doing. In fact, the more one looks into it, the more complex and mysterious balancing behavior becomes.”
Understanding Balance – The Mechanics of Posture and Locomotion by Tristan D. M. Roberts.

A lot of good ideas are being expressed on this subject in the forum. Those such as Lisa Marie and Hill&Dale are correct when they assert that a variety of everyday products have a negative impact on balance. RicB is also correct when he infers that the origins of balance in upright posture are in the feet.

Studies done at the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Laboratory have conclusively shown that our feet function best when bare. I did experimental research on balance in skiing back in 1991 with an instrumented device that replaced the ski boot. The device allowed the parameters of constraint applied to the foot and leg to be varied in a systematic manner and the effects on balance measured during typical ski maneuvers. The results were very interesting. When an environment conducive to the natural processes of balance was created all good skiers (including former Olympians) used essentially the same balance mechanisms. Even more interesting was that novice skiers started to use the very same mechanisms after only a few short runs -- with no coaching!

One of the challenges to the balance system that makes skiing difficult is that our vertical reference keeps changing. When it does the brain has a hard time figuring out which way is up. This is called behavioral vertical. If a novice starts off on a flat section of a ski run with both skis flat on the snow vertical will be vertical to the force of gravity. But as soon as that person pushes over the edge and starts down a slope behavioral vertical will change. Until such time as the skier learns to make a positive move to change the vertical reference the righting reflex will override behavioral vertical and try to maintain its reference with gravity. The result will be that the normal balance response intended to restore the vertical alignment will cause the novice to sit back.

Further exacerbating this situation is the fact that constraint imposed on the foot and leg by the ski boot can contaminate the processes that give the balance system information critical to balance. Garbage in, garbage out. In addition ski boots and related equipment typically prevent our feet from establishing the relationship with the snow (the ground) associated with our normal processes of balance. The result is that something we normally perform with such efficiency that it belies it belies its real complexity becomes a foreign, unfamiliar, unnatural ineffective process. Balance exercises will not significantly improve this core aspect of balance.

More later.
post #87 of 318
Thanks David - but my instructors are gonna hate you!(well not quite)

I have insisted for YEARS that the CHANGE in pitch was HARDEST - ie that the steep bit worried me a hell of a lot less than the change. Everyone swears it is all in my head!

Ski instructors were not quite so bad as others - but this has beeen a HUGE problem - I kept saying I needed to learn HOW TO ADJUST BALANCE for the change(they agreed on this bit after watching). I can sort of work out how to be balanced on the flatter bit & the steeper bit - but not how to CHANGE OVER.

When learning to abseil this was a BIG problem for me - as no-one would listen when I kept saying that making that change was so hard. Eventually I had a big fall going over an edge - ooops! Still they won't believe I need to LEARN how to change balance for the change in angle. Aaaaarrrgggghh.

Ski instructors have tried to bribe,cajole, threaten & just about everything else to get me to ski over edges of cornices & significant pitch changes. I always want to traverse over & then start to ski down - they swear that is harder/not as safe. The battle continues - although I am improving.
post #88 of 318
Melf

Balance SENSE development is outside of my understanding at this time, but my experience indicates that muscle tone in and around the feet and lower legs can do a lot to enhance ones balance CONTROL.
If the "righting" input is made early and with sufficient strength, "losing it" will happen less frequently.

As Nolo indicated, field and stream work can be a good thing.

Walking barefoot on a rope laid on the floor is something to do. Do it with your eyes closed if you want.

Playing Soccer has done a lot for me this year. I can feel the improvement in balance and control from this "foot- eye"
activity. Plus the enhanced cardio.

CalG
post #89 of 318
“Three major sensory systems are involved in balance and posture. Vision is the system that is primarily involved in planning our locomotion (read: movement) and in avoiding obstacles along the way. The vestibular system (i.e. chambers in the inner ear) is our “gyro” which senses linear and angular accelerations. The somatosensory system (whole body) is a multitude of sensors which sense the position and velocity of all body segments, their contact (impact) with external objects (including the ground [or lack of contact with the ground – David M]) and the orientation of gravity (or forces that act in a similar manner). Neurophysiologists have devised a wide range of experiments to tease out the contribution of each of these systems and even to confuse the system by providing conflicting or false sensory input [this is what a ski boot typically does – David M]. However, when sensory conflict between visual and somatosensory information occurs the vestibular system intervenes to resolve the conflict.

“There are some suggestions that that there is a fourth source of afferent (conducting toward a center) information that informs the CNS (central nervous system) about body weight or gravity. The suggested receptors are the Golgi tendon organs, so this may be a special form of proprioception that may be devoted to calculating the location of the total body COG (in space). As will be seen in many examples, ranging from quiet standing to termination of gait, there is strong evidence from detailed motor patterns that the CNS is continuously calculating the location of the body’s center of gravity (COG).

“Postural and balance adjustments, either reactive or proactive, are characterized by coordinated motor patterns at many joints. The timing and amplitude of these patterns are described as strategies or synergies. For example, perturbations (forces that tend to disrupt balance) to the base of support result in a “bottom-up” sequence of latencies: plantarflexors (the foot pushes down) followed by knee flexors, followed by hip extensors and paraspinal muscles.

“When a researcher is interested in reactive responses he/she introduces unexpected perturbations. On the other hand, proactive control will require either voluntarily initiated internal perturbations (such as raising an arm) or anticipatory well learnt perturbations such as experienced many times over the walking [or skiing – David M] cycle.”

A.B.C (Anatomy, Biomechanics and Control of Balance During Standing and Walking) – David A. Winter, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Waterloo Biomechanics, 1995)

The implications of the above for skiing are as follows: If you disrupt the normal bottom-up balance response, which is predominantly somatosensory in nature, the vestibular system will intervene (i.e. take control of the balance system) in an effort to restore balance. The vestibular system is a top-down response as opposed to the primary balance system, which is bottom-up; i.e. feet first. As such, the vestibular system uses very little information relating to the position or integrity of the base of support at the feet. The reason for this is that the balance system has interpreted a failure of the bottom-up system. So the vestibular system can never create true balance where it counts – at the interface between the feet and the snow surface.

If the bottom-up system is prevented from functioning effectively (which is the intended objective of the ski boot) you will typically see a skier try to regain balance in an extended traverse between changes in direction in what amounts to a series of linked recoveries. The reason for this is that they can not initiate a new direction change (they are not turns as such) until they have some semblance of stability. The associated balance strategies typically involve gross body movements and, in particular, gross arm movements. The later are intended to redirect the center of gravity away from the direction of a potential fall

On the other hand, when the primary bottom-up system is functional a skier will only be momentarily out of balance during the transition to the new ski at the start of a new turn. Once this transition is complete the skier will be strongly balanced prior to entering the fall line and will remain so until the completion of the turn where balance is consciously relinquished and transferred to the new outside leg through a process of alternating single limb support. In this context ‘balance’ is defined as “the condition that exists when the sum of the moments of force (turning forces) acting across the joints of the ankle complex at any given time equals zero”. By this I mean that the muscles associated with the joints are able to defend the position of the joint against external forces which tend to disrupt equilibrium. Balance then is an internal response to an external challenge. It is successful if it meets the preceding criteria.

disski – Your problems are very real. But they are not in your head. They are more likely in your equipment or in your feet or both. I will get to these issues in time.

Consensus is agreement, not truth.
post #90 of 318
Great post David M. I'm curious about "When an environment conducive to the natural processes of balance was created all good skiers (including former Olympians) used essentially the same balance mechanisms". What did you do to your gadget to create an enviroment conducive to our natural processes, and how we do we go in that direction on the snow?
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