BALANCE BASICS: MECHANICS, BIOMECHANICS, PHYSICS AND TERMINOLOGY


Up until this point I have been throwing out test balloon posts to try and get a sense of the issues in skiing. Blog statistics tell me what countries views are originating from, what search strings are being used to find my blog and what the top posts are. Based on the feedback I have gotten over the past few months from comments on the blog, personal emails and conversations with ski pros, it has become apparent that to a large extent skiing is influenced by opinion and dogma. While there are some pockets of science, they are for the most part disjointed and in some cases contradictory.

No one would argue that balance is everything in skiing. But good balance involves more than simply not falling or staying upright on skis. Good balance minimizes the stress on the body while maximizing the efficiency of movement. How? By mobilizing and configuring joint and skeletal patterns so that they make the most efficient use of muscle actions while providing the CNS (central nervous system) with the high quality neural data needed to mediate appropriate balance strategies in response to external forces that tend to disrupt or ‘perturb’ skier balance.

Starting with this post I will produce a series of posts on the issues pertaining to balance. In order to make this information readily available, I am going to create a heading on the main page and assemble all the posts on balance under this heading. I will try and make the complexities of balance as simple as possible. At the end of the day only way one can truly understand how to ski effectively is by understanding the mechanisms of balance and the factors that support or degrade balance.

4 comments

  1. Great idea. Balance is critical so we can time and direct our movements.

    I hope you include not only the biomechanics and physics that describe balance, but also the “how to do it” when skiing.

    If I may add my two bits, the how is by feel – staying loose, i.e. using only enough muscular tension to be functional, so you can feel the forces acting on your body and skis, so you can stay in balance and move with the forces and in the forces. 🙂

    1. That is exactly the intent. I a series of posts I plan to illustrate how, in important ways, the most efficient ski moves are very similar to those we make in doing something we are desigedn to do; walk. Local Whistler ski pro, Ken Chaddock, has written a book called ‘Ski Well Simply’ that exemplifies the type of balance I subscribe to in skiing. Chaddock is coming at the subject from a slightly different perspective than I am. But in important ways, our thinking is very much aligned; ski with minimal effort by letting the balance system do its job. The only thing we think about in skiing is where we want to go. Once we make the correct moves our balance system takes over and does the work for us at a fraction of the effort expended by most skiers.

      1. Sweet! Timing and direction, in balance – I like it. We have been saying this for a long time too, but have gotten into some arguments with some other professionals – including D-Team members and examiners.. You need to come ski with us at Jackson Hole this winter!

      2. I might just take you up on that offer. I started this blog in the hope that I would connect with a few skiers like yourself and that our collective efforts would help cement together a cohesive picture of sound ski technique; one that utilizes the natural balance mechanisms of the human system. If I can succeed with one or even two skiers such as yourself my efforts will have been rewarded.

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