SR STANCE: ROUNDING THE BACK AND SHOULDERS – UPDATED


Note to the reader – March 19, 2018

Since I first began to publish posts on the SR (Spinal Reflex) Stance in 2016, I have acquired a lot of new information and insights from sources such as Dr. Emily Splichal on what is called fascial tension as the basis for tensegrity and foot to core sequencing where fascial tension in the arches of the feet extends to the pelvis where the feet and lower limbs form an integral component of the pelvic core in a bottom up process.

In the state of tensegrity in the SR Stance, the muscles that control the angles of the joints of the ankle, knee and thigh are configured in isometric contraction.


The objective of the SR Stance is to set up a state of dynamic tension in the body that extends from the balls of the feet through the arches to the shoulders. This engages spinal reflexes that orchestrate muscle activity to maintain skier equilibrium and dissipate shocks from perturbations in GRF from asperities in the snow surface and variations in terrain.

The key elements of the SR Stance in the order of importance are:

  1. A high level of tension in the PA and intrinsic muscles that support the vault of the arches of the feet and render them into a quasi rigid state.
  2. A static preload in the Achilles resulting from the simultaneous peaking of Achilles-PA tension.
  3. A rounding of the back and shoulders that imparts a state of dynamic tension in the upper back and which acts in concert with the core muscles to stabilize the pelvis from above as shown in the graphic below.

body-tension

While the core muscles in the lower back and abdomen act to stabilize the pelvis, their influence is predominantly localised. No matter how strong the core is, it’s influence cannot be pushed down to the level of the feet. Nor can core stability be pushed up to the level of the shoulders. The synergistic influence on the core of Achilles static preload and rounding of the back and shoulders  is required to set up the state of whole body dynamic tension required for the SR Stance.

The major muscles of the core reside in the abdomen and the mid and lower back. They include the erector spinae, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, and the quadratus lumborum. An abundance of information is available in reference texts and online on the ore muscles and exercises with which to develop them.

Although the latissimus dorsi and trapezius are considered minor core muscles, they play a major role in the SR Stance.


How to Round the Back and Shoulders

Starting from position 2. in the SR Stance shown in the graphic below, bend forward from the hips as shown in position 3. As you do, round the back and shoulders and raise the arms.

er-steps

Rounding of the shoulders starts by pushing them outward away from the torso (i.e. abducted) as shown by the 2 black arrows in the graphic below.

shldr-abduct

As the shoulders are pushed outward, they are drawn forward and towards each other in an arc as shown in the graphic below.

shldr-med-rot

visible-body

At the same time as the arms are raised, the elbows are bent. The feeling is one of reaching out to put the arms about a large barrel.

hands

As the arms are raised, the core should naturally tighten on its own. Find the position where core tension peaks at maximum. Holding the arms too low or too high will degrade core tension. The palms of the hands should face each other. It helps to hold ski poles in each hand or even tubes similar to the grips of ski poles.

Taking the SR Stance to the Slopes

Here is what a properly configured SR Stance looks like in application.

er-stance

The SR Stance is the signature of the elite WC racers as evidenced in the photos below.

fenninger-1

Anna Veith (nee Fenninger)

2

Alexander Khoroshilov

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 1.34.59 PM

Ingemar Stenmark

Get Over It

Michaela Shiffrin

In my next post, I will take a short break from the SR Stance and discuss how World Cup racers are winning by cutting corners.

 

 

 

 

8 comments

  1. There is a dramatic difference between the stance of the three WC skiers above and the instructor. The racers all include the tail bone in their curvature,( Call it what you want) the instructor breaks from the waist. Look at the difference in edge angles created

    1. Instructor? What instructor? There is no photo of a ski instructor. I never said there was one. Without stance training, which must be done on a hard, flat level surface, no one, including myself, has any way of knowing what is affecting the stance of the skiers in the photos (hint: they are all racers) or whether their stance is optimal. The reason I posted the photos was to show the commonality of the rounded back and shoulders of the world’s best skiers. The trained stance is the base stance that movement emanates from. Depending on the part of a turn a skier is in, different skiers with the same SR Stance configuration, may look very different. It is the end result of the SR Stance, not superficial appearance, that is the issue.

      1. Dear Hans,

        I feel like I am a little late to the party not sure what was said before I joined the conversation. What you seem to be calling attention to is I’m not sure which joint the skier bends with to enact the forward lean of the upper body. Involved in this is how the pelvis is aligned to either the lower back or the femur, upper legs or thighs. So there are two hinge points the pelvis-femur AKA hip ball and socket joint and the L5-S1 joint being the first point of the articulation between the back and the pelvis.

        So if I am hearing the talk of tucking the tail bone in I’m not sure what you want us to know. This is in part because I’m not sure what you mean by tail bone. Are you referring to the sacrum the fused lower portion of the back which makes up the posterior portion of the pelvis? Then I would be thinking about how the pelvis aligns with either respect the back or the femur/thigh.

        Complicating this issue is where the person holds their “butt” (pelvis) with respect to the feet (for/aft). To illustrate this, we often notice bingers for not reason at all with their buts way back and cantilevering their heads and chests way forward to counterbalance. Racers’ tucks could be so compared but a racer’s tuck should have optimal pelvic orientation (with respect to the femur and back) for maximum strength, agility and therefore control and stability where as a beginners’ stance is problematic for even simple manures.

        So I am not sure at all what you and Dave are short handing and telegraphing back and forth regarding the tail bone. If I understand Dave relative to the edge angle I think he is saying this has to do with lateral movement of the pelvis over the feet left, right, and center depending on where the skier is in a series of turns and that is different than in the for/aft or coronal (frontal) plane he is seeking to illustrate with the diagrams and photos. Only Dave knows, I’m guessing.

        It never ceases to amaze me how complicated unpacking what we seemingly talk about and do effortlessly can be well tedious. Hans, thanks for letting the rest of us tag along with yous guyses, thomas

  2. The two skeletal diagrams of the different shoulder orientations awake some curiosity. I was interested in the concept of raking them back and then allowing then to curve and presumably fall forward. Another aspect with respect to shoulders is allowing them to hang naturally. Many people have the tendency to contract the upper Trapezius etc. thus using needles energy to elevate their shoulders. We tend to do this as a place “to store” nervous tension or because it gives us a sense of power. But letting them hang loose ready for action has advantages. So a natural ready position is for shoulders to hang not be elevated regardless of the orientation of the hands or arms.

    If hands and poles are to be 3:00 O’clock position the shoulders are raked back as in the first diagram. When the hands are moved to about the 1:30 – 2:00 position shoulder girdle rolls forward as in the second diagram. So hanging relaxed ready shoulders that are rolled a bit forward give the appearance of a nice rounded upper back. Yet the back appears to be aligned with the sacrum and by definition the pelvis as a stable aligned support for the head which is not shown.

    Hands more forward while not maximizing lateral balance is analogous to a tight rope walker who needs both, for forward and lateral counter balancing for optimizing stability. A backwards loss of balance for aerialists and skiers poises significant risks to the organism. For skiers this orientation seems offer the neurologic befit of programming the brain not to let the shoulder trail back which can radically distort the body and turn dynamics.

    1. The position of the arms is critical to the SR Stance. If you round your back and shoulders as you bend forward at the waist while simply letting your arms hang limp in the number 2 position, your core will not be fully activated on all aspects especially on the sides of the torso. It is also important that you do not feel like you are reaching forward. The action involves mainly raising the forearms.

      Closing the fingers is also important for maximizing tension in the abdominal core as is having the palms of the hands facing each other. For this reason, holding and gripping ski poles or even ski pole handles is important.

      Based on my experience and observation, poor stance is epidemic in skiing even at the elite and WC levels with Ski Pros having some of the worst examples.

      1. Dear Dave,

        I was interested in your comments about pole use and gripping, activating core muscles for a more secure and activated muscular frame. I have noticed that students just do better with poles introduced sooner in the progression rather than later. This might explain why. Students who let their arms hang have less balance and reactiveness while ones that use there arms for balance are “prepared” and actively fit to respond to chaotic terrain. I think your point is it is not just the physics of increasing rotational inertia by extending mass the arms it is core activation as well.

        Conversely if the core and body is locked up by excessive muscle tension I have had great luck having students wiggle their fingers (chiropractor trick to relax in order to slip in an adjustment). This would be in inverse of experience you outlined which seems to prove your point. At any rate there seems to be a neurologic contention just the same way a sprinter loads the Achilles in the blocks to neurotically ready the glutes to explode at the gun.

        Am I to understand what you are saying is if one feels like they are reaching forward with there arms this disables the desired effect. It is hard to describe (to be understood) but arms forward enough that they feel forward to this degree the body would be on the verge of out of balance. Therefore the body would shift from a proactive mode (activated core) to one more devoted to remaining vertical, thus activating a different set of neuro-muscular responses.

        Oh, when I was talking about letting “shoulders to hang not be elevated regardless of the orientation of the hands or arms” I was trying to differentiate between elevated shoulders and normal rounded shoulders. So it is the raised forearm, palm orientation and grip that activates the core, interesting like a boxer. Wonder if that is true of other primates?

        Hope the production of the next several posts is going well because they sound like they will be further thought provoking, thomas

  3. Dear David
    Thanks for the clarification of these posts, the photos of the stance in practice are particularly helpful.
    Can you clarify or develop your ideas relating to SR and stance at different stages of the turn, the stance that you have shown appears to be at transition, what is important to maintain SR in the rest of the turn, especially with maximal lateral separation and also with counter?

    1. Mike, I am in the process of writing a post that puts the phases of a ski turn in an entirely new perspective using video clips from the opening GS race in Solden. I will clarify the role of weight transfer to the inside (uphill) foot while the ski is still on its inside edge and how and why the SR Stance deploys in what I call the Load Phase of a turn that occurs in the top of a turn just as COM is about the cross the rise (gravity) line. Please keep your comments and suggestions coming. They help guide my efforts.

Comments are closed.