THE SR STANCE AND TOTAL BODY CORE INTEGRATION


“Body tension follows fascial lines and the concept of tensegrity. The more tension created by the body, the faster you can stabilize joints, generate force and improve performance”

– Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal

The word ‘tensegrity’ is an invention: a contraction of ‘tensional integrity.’ Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder”

– Richard Buckminster Fuller –  Synergetics p. 372.

You can find many images of structures utilizing principles of tensegrity in a web search. The graphic below is of a model I made years before I had ever heard of tensegrity. Note the shear forces, Fs, resulting from compression-tension in the arches of the foot. The shear forces provide the reaction force for the isometric chain that sets up tensegrity.sr-tripod-demo

Isometric Contractions

“Vibrations are damped through isometric contractions.”

“Previous theories on impact forces and overuse injuries relied much more on eccentric muscle contractions and joint mobility. The research of Dr. Nigg from the University of Calgary has since challenged this concept.”

– Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal

The SR Stance imparts a state of tensional integrity in the entire body in a bottom up manner emanating from the plantar foot and extending to the shoulders. The SR Stance configures the angles of joints of the ankle, knee and hip with the associated muscles in isometric contraction. The process of setting up a static preload in the Achilles tendon is actually setting up a state of isometric contraction in the first link of the isometric chain, the soleus.

Good Vibrations

“What we will soon find out is that it is not the impact forces that are the cause of injury; it is actually a flaw in how our body perceives and responds to these impact forces.”

“Although we associate and perceive impact forces as pressure, we actually perceive impact forces as vibrations. The vibrations caused by ground reaction forces are set at a certain frequency that our muscles are programmed to.”

– Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal

By 1980, I had reached the conclusion that the forces required to constrain the foot to a ski must be localised on the dorsum of the foot and substantially perpendicular to the transverse aspect of the ski base in order to maintain a load reference with the plantar foot. Although I did not fully understand the implications, I had concluded that boot boards that were not integrated into the base of the boot shell acted as insulators of vibrations from the ski. Foam boot boards are especially bad because they damp vibrations.

At the time that I conceptualised the in-boot dorsum restraint system disclosed in US Patent No 4,534,122 (Aug, 13, 1985),   there were still significant voids in my knowledge. The device, in combination with a cast in place, torsionally and flexurally rigid carbon fibre boot board, was first used by Canadian Crazy Canuck, Steve Podborski, to compete and win on some of the most challenging downhill courses on the World Cup circuit. That he did this less than 4 months post reconstructive ACL surgery was nothing short of a miracle. Although I had based the technology on my untested theory that it might reduce stress on the knee by damping load-unload oscillation, I was both surprised and perplexed by Podborski’s ability to even ski with a knee in such a fragile condition, let alone with minimal pain or discomfort. I now know why. By sheer luck, it appears as if the components I had put in place in his boots must have had the correct vibration frequency to allow the muscles in his legs to damp vibrations and protect his knees.

THE EMERGING REVOLUTION UNDERFOOT

After centuries of damaging feet and causing  knee, hip and back pain with the associated suffering, an age of enlightenment is finally emerging with the potential to lift the artisan design of footwear, of which the modern plastic ski boot is arguably the worst example, out of the dark ages. That this is finally happening, hit home recently when I discovered the brilliant Dr. Emily Splichal and her book, Barefoot Strong.

Dr. Splichal’s teachings will challenge everything you THOUGHT (past tense) you knew. She confirmed and clarified concepts and theories that I have mulled over for decades. In reading her book, it was if a bright light  suddenly illuminated what had been cloaked for centuries in the darkness of ignorance.

Dr. Splichal has gracously given me permission to reproduce excerpts from her book. But she has done such superb job of articulating the subject matter that I would end reproducing the majority of her book if I were to reproduce every important statement. So I urge those who are reading this post to obtain a copy of Barefoot Strong so I can simply direct readers to the appropriate page and paragraph number in order to facilitate dialog.  Here are a few more passages from Barefoot Strong.

“What we will soon find out is that it is not the impact forces that are the cause of injury; it is actually a flaw in how our body perceives and responds to these impact forces”.

“Although we associate and perceive impact forces as pressure, we actually perceive impact forces as vibrations. The vibrations caused by ground reaction forces are set at a certain frequency that our muscles are programmed to.

“As we put on shoes, socks, orthotics we begin to block the plantar receptors, skewing our perception of how hard we are striking the ground”.

The problem? Shoes and even socks block the thousands of small receptors in the bottom (read: plantar aspect) of the foot. What’s worse? Cushioning and extra support in shoes decreases foot strength.

A perfectly fit, tightly constricting ski boot that applies force to all aspects of the foot and leg with arch supports or orthotics that block plantar receptors is the worst possible scenario. More than just circumventing the plantar receptors, it prevents the damping process by bypassing the foot and the portion of the leg encased within the structures of the boot shaft thus acting to transmit forces from the snow up the vertical column with no damping. This objective is clearly stated in patents of which the excerpt below is but one example:

“During skiing the sole of the ski boot is rigidly connected to the ski by a ski binding. As a result, the ski boot acts as an interface between the ski and the lower leg of the skier. In order for the reaction of the ski on the surface of the snow to be transmitted immediately and accurately to the lower leg, and conversely, for the control exerted by the skier on the ski via the lower leg and the interface also to be transmitted immediately and accurately, the foot and lower leg must be held perfectly snug by the boot.”

– US Patent No. 6026594A

Given the importance of tensegrity in stabilizing joints, generating force, improving performance but especially, protecting the structures in the foot and vertical column from injury, the current trend in making boot shafts more upright  to encourage skiers to ski in a more upright, relaxed stance should be deeply concerning especially in view of consistent claims that ski boots maximise energy transfer.

In my next I will discuss how footwear caused such long lasting damage to my feet as a child that I am only now through a protracted effort finally achieving a degree of normal foot function. After this post, I will continue to discuss Dr. Splichly’s work in the context of  THE EMERGING REVOLUTION UNDERFOOT that has  made mininal shoes a billion dollar and rapidly growing segment of the footwear industry.


Dr Emily Splichal is a Podiatrist and Human Movement Specialist. She is the Founder of the Evidence Based Fitness Academy (EBFA) and Creator of the Barefoot Training Specialist, Barefoot Rehab Specialist and Bare Workout Certifications for health and wellness professionals.

I am forever indebted and grateful to Dr. Emily Splichal for the wealth of knowledge she has transferred to me that have renewed my passion and made my efforts of the past 40 years worthwhile. Thankyou Dr. Emily Splichal.

Her book, Barefoot Strong is available in print and ebook formats.

http://evidencebasedfitnessacademy.com/faculty.html

http://www.ebfaglobal.com

DEDICATION in Barefoot Strong

“For those who have the courage to step out

of their comfort zone and challenge the

accepted.

Alway’s push past life’s challenges, fulfill your

dreams and live a life full of passion”

To which I would add……… live a life full of passion and purpose.

Do not simply aspire to be

Be

 

 

26 comments

  1. I suggest David shares our email address because we can do a lot of this without taking up this space!! I’m glad we do agree on the pole issue because last I knew my skis either do or don’t keep me going where I want and at what speed. I’m too undisciplined I guess because when I ditch the poles I use my feet better and thus ski better. Also because of moguls I use ‘illegally’ short poles which drove the clinicians bonkers. I think too many people use poles that are too long and then that forces the hands higher and guess what, weight goes back. The reason I like them short is because I used to use the poles very well in the old days, really hard pole plants so if I missed the bump or it broke through the snow I’d fall flat on my face.

    Thankfully my daughter is a great skier, figured I’d have the western experience over her for a long time but turns out I was wrong!! Can really ski the tough stuff. So here is some worthwhile info; about 5 years ago I let her pick her boots because I’d trained her on choosing footwear. Trouble is that she chose a pair that were my size; at least two sizes to big for her! She insisted and I’m thinking what a disaster this is going to be and she skis them great. That was pre-Manifesto and you’d think I would have figured out from that that boots don’t need to be so restrictive!! For ever she has had an issue with one foot and I could never figure out what the impediment was. Last year I finally convinced her to let me take out a chunk of liner at the ‘sixth’ toe and the problem disappeared!! Toe spread. Thanks Manifesto! Then did the other foot also and loved it. I’d like to eliminate the whole toe area of her liner but then again with them being 2 sizes too big she probably has plenty of room now that the mets aren’t scrunched. The Shiffrin comment I’m glad you picked up on, we don’t see the pole plants because they don’t really do them. My theory on the poles is that is an instructor thing which counterbalances most people being back seat due to faulty boot alignment and instead of fixing the boots we’re taught to ski like Frankenstein. Back in the day I figured out that most skiers did wild things with their arms to help the turn so if I removed that they couldn’t turn effectively. Then I’d work technique and when that failed I’d mess with the equipment and then they didn’t have to use their arms and upper body to help the turn, they could actually do it with the skis like they’re supposed to.

    One more proof on how good ski boots aren’t. Helped at a local ski area here. Helped with a kid’s beginner class and took the kid who could hardly stand up. With my eagle eye immediately realized why he couldn’t stand up, the boots were on the wrong feet. I was so thrilled, sat him down in the snow switched his feet (:) and problem solved. Not so fast, nothing changed; poor kid, boots absolutely suck!!

    1. Not only do ski boots suck, there is nothing even remotely right about them. In case it isn’t obvious, I am pressed for time. So, an email group is not an option unless you want to chat with thomas.

      1. Dear Michael,

        In thinking about the topic of SR stance and total body core integration, this quote of yours caught my curiosity and I was wondering if you would be willing to take sometime to revisit it?

        “Back in the day I figured out that most skiers did wild things with their arms to help the turn so if I removed that they couldn’t turn effectively. Then I’d work technique and when that failed I’d mess with the equipment and then they didn’t have to use their arms and upper body to help the turn, they could actually do it with the skis like they’re supposed to.”

        If I understand what you are saying here is if you took away poles the wild things skiers did with their arms diminished when in concert you altered their equipment. There is really a lot to unpack. The brain is adaptive.

        If I understand “things with their arms to help the turn” correctly I hear it as the body using extreme measures to stay upright because the brain was still learning how to maintain balance equilibrium by more subtly adjusting the center of mass.

        I could also hear that as the body compensating for the lack of neurologic knowledge to make an energy efficient turns on skies and the brain resorts to using the upper body to rotate the legs rather than employing more efficient body/ski mechanics to turn.

        Additionally I could hear learners have elevated physiology and that alone can explain a lot of the defensive muscle tension that inhabits balance and hampers ability control ski function.

        At least that is some of the things I hear from your quote. Is this what you wanted us to contemplate or know?

        Then you talk about making alterations in equipment. It would be interesting to learn what these changes were and how they affected the students.

        What you seem to be bring up is a central question in skiing which is, what is an effective learning progression(s) to allow the Central Nervous System CNS to adapt to motion on skies (snowboard etc.) and what are the optimal equipment configurations to facilitate neurologic learning and foster optimal function. thomas

      2. I will provide my comments and let Michael add his later. As I intend to show in future posts, when the body is able to function as it was intended to as opposed to how it is forced to, it will use the hard-wired mechanism of alternating single limb support with the associated swing leg balance stimulation mechanism and pre-emptive movement patterning. This mechanism requires the ability to assume a balanced position on the support or stance limb as defined by a state of dynamic balanced moments of force across the 3 degrees of freedom in the joints of the lower limb, the exact thing ski boots are trying (usually successfully) to prevent. When equipment (usually the ski boot) forces the body to adapt, it is at a considerable price and at a considerable compromise of the normally sophisticated processes of balance. The failure to rapidly acquire a balanced monopedal position (in millseconds) on the outside ski evokes spinal reflex balance responses in the form rapid arm movements which are a direct consequence of bad equipment. The question ski pros and even coaches at the World Cup level typically fail to ask is, “Why is she or he doing that?”

  2. Dear Dave,

    RE: comments by skikinetics
    November 14, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    I was struck by your insight, “…the only response has been to turn up the volume.” That is a key element when people are not heard they get louder and more extreme to be noticed and themselves known. So when people are heard – understood it increases the likelihood they can see themselves and the value of others so they can increase the likelihood of working together. Even after being heard it is imperative each person takes responsibly for past actions. Oddly everyone in the conflict community did something to make the conflict louder. So no one gets off the hook including the person that did the deed, said the words etc.

    Your note at 2:18 PM suggests you think we are in the first stage of just hearing – gaining mutual understanding. Since this blog is people’s opinions that may be the important part. If people are experiencing painful conflict and if they are willing to gain mutual understanding they then can move forward to taking self responsibility and likely agreeing to actions to make the situations better.

    At least that is how I am hearing your expression “As one who has been described as dangerously curious, I don’t need to be right. I need to keep moving. I see mistakes as opportunity to learn. The conflicts of life are messy even if we are biologically predisposed to work together that by itself does not necessarily increase the likelihood we will. We need sound practices and a restorative culture to guide us, rather turning up the rhetorical volume.

    I’m guessing we in the blog community have not done enough to foster learning restorative practices and helping you build a blog culture that embraces restorative learning to increase the likelihood of normal conflict over painful conflict.

    I apologize for my inaction – silence – in the past and hope my efforts now will increase the likelihood of ease in understanding and cooperating in the future, thomas

    1. I was one of those pain in the ass kids who challenged pretty much everything my school teachers threw at me. If they said, “This is the way it is”, I asked, “Why”. If they responded, “Because I am your teacher”, I did not relent. I believe it is healthy to challenge positions with constructive criticism and that it is incumbent for us to be prepared to defend our positions on issues with intelligent, objective responses and not unfettered, indifferent arrogance mired in authority. I once had a World Cup level coach attempt to kiss me off on an position he took which blatantly contradicted Newton’s Laws. His response? “Newton’s Laws work differently in skiing. There is a reason why the spelling of arrogance and ignorance are similar. They are birds of a feather.

      My opinion is that the reason skiing continues to languish in the dark ages is a systematic lack of diligence and critical thinking. Very few of the positions that make up the cornerstones of skiing knowledge would withstand even mild scrutiny. We need to revisit and critically rethink these premises (or perhaps just ‘think’) in the interests of furthering skiing….. period.

      1. Dear Dave,

        I was curious about “I was one of those pain in the ass kids who challenged pretty much everything my school teachers threw at me. If they said, “This is the way it is”, I asked, “Why”. If they responded, “Because I am your teacher”, I did not relent.” It sounds like your and your teacher’s needs were not being met. Your teacher perhaps had a high need for ease when dealing with all the distractions of students, tests parents and administrators.

        Or perhaps teacher was also needing, choice, support, efficacy, peace, play, learning, effectiveness, harmony, order, consideration, empathy, to understand and be understood, participation, competence, cooperation, community safety or love etc.

        One would guess you needed ease, learning, participation, self-expression, stimulation, to matter, safety, to understand and be understood, harmony, competence, order, play, consideration, challenge, empathy, cooperation, discovery, community, safety or love etc.

        The question therefore is what system could have been employed for both you and the teacher to have met your needs in a community setting (simultaneously meeting general community needs). One would guess the system you and your teacher chose did not serve both of your purposes for meeting both of your needs/values. How was this system of choice, chosen? It was the one that was there. Both of you used it without question. All too often we do not think consciously about needs and systems to meet them. Instead teachers are branded as bad and students truculent. With empathy we get a clue of the likelyhoold this system was not meeting the needs of either you or your teacher – , “Because I am your teacher”, I did not relent.”

        What I am hearing here is something from your former post, “the only response has been to turn up the volume.” While no one can go back in time and change the systems employed then we can in the future adopt systems by which meeting our needs/values become more likely. Something I ponder often is the subject of people identifying their values, their unmet needs and the various systems they employ to meet them. That’s in part why restorative practices peak my curiosity as they do here, thomas

      2. You are way off base on this one thomas. The basic driving force behind creativity is curiousity. A good read is The Power of Why by Amanda Lang or Linchpin by Seth Godin. Thinking is hard work. Critical thinking is really hard work. Original thinking is rarified air for most.

        The tendency of most people is to parrot the script of those who they percieve as the influencers, the shakers and movers in society because it is the path of least resistance to be part of the in crowd. This creates a herd of drones because confidence is inversely proportional to competence; the more self-confident one is, the more incompetent they are. The more certain one is that they are dead right, the more likely that they are dead wrong. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Really smart people are always going beyond their knowledge base, always moving. They need to know why because at the most fundamental level they learn through a meticulous step-by-step process. Most people memorize the right answers according to authoritarian figures or whatever is required to become certified. This is the main reason why skiing continues to languish in the stone age.

  3. Thomas, I draw the line on ‘conflict.’ That is 100 % counterproductive. So what you’re talking about as being constructive to the goal is ‘creative discussion’ or ‘normal discussion’, whatever you want to call it; other than conflict. What I was referring to is from posts past where people have just hurled insults at David because he is not parroting the party line, you’re not even close because you’re asking questions and ‘hashing things out.’ I’ve had many a mean and nasty stuff shoveled in my direction and I do learn from their comments which isn’t their intent at all because it is only to be superior. But that’s what the Darwin Award is for I guess, if people don’t want to evolve it’s their loss which is why I don’t let it bother me because if they want to struggle while I’m having more fun than ever…. As a matter of fact if I truly have something that may be taken as completely negative I communicate directly with the individual first because why go off if it’s just a misunderstanding. Some people deserve to get hammered immediately though:) (Easy to tell the difference from the ‘tone.’)

    You must be a better instructor than I was because I never saw poles really benefit too many people. Happened to notice that at least part of the Levi slalom Shiffrin forgot to use her pole plants. I’ll look again but I don’t believe she did one. Poles bring back memories; my daughter and her friend (I coached both the best I could:) skied forever without poles. Then the boys started to hang around and ask stupid questions like ‘Why don’t you use poles?” So the girls would skate off with the boys poling furiously trying to catch up but only losing ground. Then the girls would throw themselves into a heap. “Why did you fall?” I’d answer that one, “because they can!” Was great seeing them really having creative fun, not worrying about a stupid norm as long as no one got hurt, too much conflict in other parts of their lives!!

    Don’t know how much you’ve read from the beginning of the Manifesto, probably all of it. Here are some of the eye openers as relates to skiing I learned first time on here that have benefitted me greatly;
    * Ankle glide path
    * Toe spread
    * Liner removal, a bit nervous at first but finding the less the better!
    * S-R stance and pressing the ‘loonie’ when every one else is ‘sweet spotting the arch or heel(?)
    * After patenting new method of making orthotics I believe in no arch support.
    * I believe in adjusting the equipment to the skier forever as David does but definitely has helped me get there faster and better than ever.

    Tip of the iceberg , left out a lot I’m sure.

    1. I don’t really have a problem with Thomas’ use of the term conflict. What I have a problem with is the conflicted agendas that surface when I try to correct obviously flawed concepts in ski teaching or coaching and get attacked because being right or generating maximum profits for the corporate entity they see themselves beholden to takes precedence over advancing skiing and making skiing easier and safer. I have had more than one ski pro confirm that since skiing became corporate, the emphasis has shifted to commodifying skiing and especially selling feel good experiences that motivate skiers to spend heavily in the corporate ownwed shops and restaurants; the least value for the most money. It is time for passionate skiers to take back skiing. A big first step is engaging interactive dialog.

      1. Dear Michael,

        It might appear from your post that we are in disagreement. Actually I think we are using different terms to describe essentially the same thing regarding conflict. And yes I would agree that culturally to say one welcomes conflict is abhorrent except that we successfully engage it many times a day. Further, studies by John Gottman suggest that couples don’t agree (are in constant conflict) on 70-80% of the big ticket marriage items like sex, money, child raising and kids free skiing; yet they are able to live and love together. So here I have been exploring a method or practice of how this is possible. Hopefully readers will see this topic as a common thread in my contributions here.

        It is because I am aware of many of the painfully harsh words, denoting conflicts I have seen here I am offering a process by which people can engage meaningfully in conflict, “…‘creative discussion’ or ‘normal discussion’….” If people don’t have a way to be restorative they will resort to the kind of violence you deplore. In the absences a restorative process I would guess Dave has spared us by cutting out many comments when conflict got too painful, the rhetoric became mean and outrageously ludicrous.

        Unfortunately this painful conduct finds it roots in classic rhetorical training and is part of every day speech, which is why I’m guessing you took dismay with my advocating conflict. But I did not want you to hear I was fostering or encouraging painful conflict. I would argue as did Darwin we evolved because of our ability to cooperate not because we could overpower. Sure evolution is messy and cannibalism is a fact.

        I agree some participants here are having a difficult time acting – fostering non-violent discourse, engaging in constructive conflict, and acting restoratively. It is heartening that we you and others in this blog community are actively encouraging learning about restoring connection within people, between people, and as community. Rick Certano spoke eloquently in this exchange, https://skimoves.me/2016/10/19/a-reader-asks-about-static-preload-and-sr-stance/#comments

        As for ski pole use, my kids did not get to use them, learned in boots that would drive Dave berserk and they did fine except as you point out for “… questions like ‘Why don’t you use poles?” And like your kids mine developed great skills, skied steep gnarly stuff, adults thought impossible without poles etc. The way I am understanding this is we taught them agility, balance and specialized forms by necessity like skating. These are all vitally important! As you noted with your reference to “the boys”, they are skills are often left out or not developed. Additionally if kids don’t have poles they can’t loose them, drop them, trip over them, have them stolen, forget them, and break them others heads etc. so parents can be sober at the end of the day. No disagreement from me on skiing sans poles in fact for these very reasons I am often poleless. What I am hearing is your kids had a wonderful time running free over a mountain and I wish more kids could experience the same life lessons ours apparently did on and off the ski hill.

        So I don’t think we disagree in principal but maybe we have a conflict in my noticing with the introduction of poles it seems to help with Dave’s ‘barrel grip’ and enhances movements toward a carved turn. As far as Shiffrin’s non-use of pole plants I’d say this is analogues to my poleless thumbs up move. She’s a lot better at it! Odd we always are told to mimic elite ski racers’ pole plants/touches but don’t see them on films. Also bizarre we don’t hear/learn much about her graceful flexibility, agility, balance and contortionist tendencies while pulling down 2-3 Gs. I’d bet your kids know a thing or two about athleticism and because of their training they could write a book explaining Shiffrin’s.

        Before I’m not sure you heard me the way I wanted to be known. What did you hear this time? thomas

  4. The glazing of eyes was poking fun at me… and I have to admit some individuals that have criticized David in the past without even trying anything first. I’m a slow thinker so I can usually come up with a great response in a conversation, four days too late.

    Real reason I’m writing is that as I think about the S-R stance it reminded me of how our coach taught us to play defense in basketball, 100% this stance even down to the hand position. It was extremely efficient and while I couldn’t dribble or make a basket I was great on defense and now 40+ years later think I should have used the same stance on offense!! Wish now that I had a chance to see how others taught b-ball (or didn’t) because this guy was a great coach and always had great teams. I used the stairs again today with S-R stance and then add the ‘grab’, let go, repeat and definitely can feel the difference.

    Appreciate all the scientific work you’re doing here, figure the least I can do is try it and share the results.

      1. Dear Michael,

        I would agree with you “…some individuals that have criticized David in the past without even trying anything first.” Most of us think of conflict of having two sides with one the victor being the stronger or more virtuousness. So we seem to want to win. While conflict is often is encountered between two people it always is multi-facetted and involves the entire community in either direct or indirect ways. Conflict is often seen as damaging relations and community, that’s true of painful conflict but not normal conflict.

        What Dave appears to be trying to do here is draw people into meaningful creative conflict. To do that we have to understand what the meaning of the speaker’s words is. I would say just trying Dave’s stuff is an act of attempting to hear him. Then after someone tries it like you did you checking back him to see if you received his message they way he intended. The act of attempting to hear and checking meaning; is a key to letting conflict flower with natural creative beauty.

        One thing that caught my fancy in your note above was this notion of ‘grab’. I sort of was lost about this and looked back and ‘grab’ is short hand for ‘grab the barrel’ as in hands out toward the front with thumbs up. And you speak of a defensive stance in basket ball, which is the “ready position” out lined in really poor coaching material put out by recreation departments for parent coaches of young children’s teams. I use it all the time with ski instruction as it is at the hart of it.

        In thinking about your comments two things came up for me. One was recalling how beginner students seem to do better by introducing poles much sooner than most formal progressions call for. The other stems from at times chronically skiing without poles. While balance is most effectively achieved by arms straight out turning efficiency is increased by bringing them in front and flicking the wrists thumbs up and around. I used to think this was to time the turn the way a pole flick does. After being exposed to Dave’s ‘Barrel grip’ imagery I have not given up this idea. I am now convinced they main reason my body does this naturally is to gain power and coordination achieved by preloading the core as he hypothesized. It also explains why beginners seem do better with poles even if they risk get in the way. Winter is coming so further testing is likely.

        If one thinks of the ready position, S-R stance, it is also a primate fight position or human a position for all sort of active work and play. It would stand to reason we are evolutionally programmed to have anatomical forms for peak potential when on guard or actively need power and coordination.

        The real evolutionary skill of humans is to use conflict as a means of achieving together, I enjoy your thoughts, thomas

      2. Now you are connecting with my itent Thomas. My goto strategy is to create a spark and let others fan the flames.

        Regarding your comments on conflict, I agree that it is a real and natural evolutionary skill of humans as a means of achieving mutually beneficial objectives. In 1992, when I was writing my second patent (lawyers wrote my first patent) a very wise man who was providing oversight told me, “Never fall in love with your ideas. It will kill your creativity”. It will also kill your ability to think….. period. As one who has been described as dangerously curious, I don’t need to be right. I need to keep moving. I see mistakes as opportunity to learn.

        Creativity and evolutionary innovation gets stiffled by those with investments in expertise and/or academic status where admitting one is wrong, especially fatally wrong, can be construed as a tacit admission of stupidity and incompetence. But the worst investment by far is financial. Unfortunately, skiing seems to be infected with all 3. When the flawed conclusion that any and all form of pronation caused dysfunction and even injury, it spawned a vision in entrepreneurs of a global market of every living human as needing interventions to support the foot. Even as they evidence continues to amass that this was a gigantic (pardon the pun) step in the wrong direction, the only response has been to turn up the volume.

        Keep going Thomas and Michael.

  5. Dear Dave,

    I’m guessing that I got you goat with my tongue-in-cheek allusion to Bends zeee knees. Please let me assure that I had absolutely no intention to poke fun at you. The illustration I wanted you to hear was something we have chatted about. But more specifically so much of what English ski vocabulary is base on is the simplest way of expressing concepts by foreign speakers. In other words the phrase Bends zeee knees conveys much more than its simple words. It was and is a concept. Yes it is ill defined, misused and misunderstood. Often non-English speakers used tone of voice or no words just sounds to covey information along with demonstrations. So there is that problem.

    Additionally as we have discussed, “So much of what we seem to know about skiing is the result of what has been expedient at the time – often not based on science. This seems to be true of instruction and if I understand you correctly has been true on the manufacturing end as well.” One can assume the understanding of bio-machines has increased since Hannes Schneider penned the Arlberg technique. This is why your blog is so interesting as it seems to attempt to explain 90 years of parallel universes of science and skilore.

    Having heard all manor of descriptions of the mechanics of the skier’s knee some of which are mechanically impossible I would agree with your statement, “Uninformed observation and subjective interpretation also is the cause of such nonsensical, not to mention dangerous, concepts as knee angulation.” What I think your readers are searching for is how we can use your research to do find and use equipment and body forms for both effective dry land and ski training.

    The fact that learning is expanding and unfolding with each new blog installment is both exciting and frustrating. Many of us might share skiracers’s impatience as well as most of us perhaps commiserate with Michael’s eyes glazing over while trying to understand and apply this learning. To me that is a large part of what makes this blog a fun effort.

    Unpacking skiing has been a long time pursuit for all of us in this game. I greatly appreciate the body-mechanical exploration here, refreshingly. All knee bending aside, hope you can hear me a little more the way I wanted to be heard this time than the way I heard you, hear me last time, thomas

    1. Hey no problem Thomas. I wasn’t reading anything into your Bend zee knees quip. It just provided a nice seque to my criticism of uninformed observation and a disarming lack of diligence and critical thinking in the ranks of skiing.

      “The fact that learning is expanding and unfolding with each new blog installment is both exciting and frustrating.”

      I hear you loud and clear. If I had nothing else to do I could probably spend my waking hours writing blog posts and I would still be behind. I am just about ready to post on Gut’s Gute Bewegungen (How’s your German?) using clips from Solden. What I am seeing is a dramatic application of Newton’s Laws in the moves of elite racers such as Gut, Hirscher and Pintauralt. WOW! Finally. In a sequel, I will use video clips to support my explanation as to why the other racers can’t make the same moves (Hint: It’s not a lack of talent or level of fitness).

      Please keep the comments coming.

      1. Dear Dave,

        Google translate is a lot better than my German. Looking forward to good movements.

        So segue is
        1 proceed to what follows without pause —used as a direction in music

        2 perform the music that follows like that which has preceded —used as a direction in music, thomas

  6. Yes and no. To be more specific, my experiments with lowering COM was a result of some discussions with an elite skier on stance and had to do with the way he was coached to run more efficiently. While I said flex the ankles after reading David’s response it is by relaxing the hamstrings even though I think ankles. The reason I don’t think knees is because I can bend the knees so thighs go back and drop the upper body forward and then I’m the gorilla and that isn’t efficient. What I developed over the summer was added to what I’ve already been doing which is to set my fore foot down first and when running the heel hardly touches if at all. This creates a tension in my legs that heel strike doesn’t so after a long time of not being able to run at all due to a knee injury, now I can. (Also due to playing with toe drop and toe spread has eliminated the misalignment which was probably a major reason the knee didn’t heal for decades.) This summer I played with lowering my COM because I already do that skiing because in the moguls I like to ride the ski edge (mostly flatter ski so the skis smear) through the whole turn and maintain snow contact at all times unless I feel like getting them off the snow. I wrote it like that to emphasize that I should be the one that dictates what the skis do, not the terrain, and I have to be able to reach down into the ‘valleys’ so can’t stand too upright and tall. Turns out that while the running downhill and uphill with toe strike was more efficient energy wise and a million times safer than heel strike, lowering the COM was incredibly more efficient and to my amazement uses less energy than running with straighter legs. Downhill it eliminates a ‘pole vaulting’ effect from the downhill knee not flexing enough. Couldn’t believe it would be less tiring going uphill. At all times it just positions the body to the basic SR stance in my opinion from reviewing video of both COM styles of running. I actually really like the ‘grab’ running downhill because control is always an issue there and I like the feeling of being locked in. Maybe sprinting wouldn’t be so hot with the ‘grab’ maybe but I’m far from that and like survival! In discussing this knee flex with my daughter turns out she was taught to climb the rope in a pike position by never straightening the elbow because it’s ,ore efficient to have the elbows bent already when one starts to pull.

    In the future I’ll probably be using the relaxed hamstring thought because all these nuances make a big difference. I have done quite a bit of various experiments already but I’ll eventually get the book on running I’m sure . The reason I shared this was to share this so yes, if I have anything more I will share it. Since what David is posting here is new I’m trying to comment as appropriate rather than blasting off on a tangent!!

    1. Your obervations about feeling less stress when going downhill in an SR Stance as does staying more compact on skis/ The biggest fault I see even in elite ski pros is too tall stance created by not enough bend at the waist and too straight a back. What comes out loud and clear in Barefoot Strong by Dr. Emily Splichal is that the feet are part of pelvic core and the feet activate the deep pelvic core muscles………. unless support from shoes and especially any form of arch support prevents it which it will. My reason for clarification was not to discourage experimentation which is invaluable for learning but to ensure I was not inferring that we should walk like we were auditioning for a bit part for a sequel to Planet of the Apes. BY THE WAY, Dr. Splichal has training exercises for walking which result in what I call ‘soft step’ as opposed to what has become the norm, the foot slam.

      1. Dear Dave and Michael,

        Thanks for the spirited dialog. It is interesting seeing the different approaches beginning to coalesce around certain ideas for optimal stances. Michael and I seem to approach the question from physical limitation where Dave is coming at from a question of what is optimal without any physical encumbrances. Since all of us have physical limitations the challenge is how to spot these in order to get to Dave’s optimal forms or stances. Michael speaks eloquently of knee problems and how they shaped the application of SR to meet idiosyncratic need.

        I was drawn to Dave’s statement “that the feet are part of pelvic core and the feet activate the deep pelvic core muscles….” Not knowing exactly what he meant by pelvic core muscles I can assure mine are tight enough it effects the feet. In that light the Dave’s concept of relaxing the hamstrings is very deceptive of one set of muscles that need to become more elastic in order for the feet to activate the proper alignment muscles – hip flexors etc.

        As and aside to illustrate this point I was noted for one ski diverging in turns. The coaches were not able to identify why this happening, just said don’t do it. I figured out that my body was compensating for a very mild pain in the ass. After an intention not to let the pain bother me and some quick glute and piriformis muscle stretches problem was temporarily solved.

        I guess as students ourselves we need a sound stance(s) model and the assessment ability to define where in the body problems are originating. Is this restriction/encumbrance originating in the foot or is a higher up that is precluding a skier from using SR throughout the turn? Whether it is an ineffective body/boot interface or a debilitating feedback loop like iphone posture the brain being plastic will compensate very quickly potentiality setting up skeletal muscular imbalances. Some become chronic and or lead to injury.

        What I hear Dave proposing with his diagrams and descriptions is sound anatomical aliment regarding SR and ways to experience it. The question for elite athletes as well as people like Michael and me is how given our limitations can we get our bodies and neurologic systems to enable us to have SR to move optimally? If I’m hearing Dave this way I would say this is a fundamentally different approach to investigating the dynamics of learning skiing.

      2. Thomas, yours and Micheal’s comments help me see cracks in my explanations.

        “Michael and I seem to approach the question from physical limitation where Dave is coming at from a question of what is optimal without any physical encumbrances.”
        > The SR Stance procedure I lay out is intended to enable everyone to find the best solution stance given their physical limitations and encumbrances. It is intended to serve as a stepping stone to the optimal stance for a particular individual. But it requires addressing their physical limitations and encumbrances as fully as possible. The SR Stance is a universal end result not a universal superficial physical standard. I will be providing a comprehensive list of resources that will provide the tools to optimize human performance and learn how to activate the Foot Core Cascade.

        “If I’m hearing Dave this way I would say this is a fundamentally different approach to investigating the dynamics of learning skiing.”
        > You nailed it. I am proposing the development of a holistic systems approach that optimizes skier performance by integrating the skier with the equipment so it functions as a system and not a foreign appendage. I am also developing exercises that utilize the hard wired walking patterns to ski movements with the objective of making a ski turn into a reflex movement. Don’t worry, I am doing all the heavy lifting. My goal is to reduce the process to simple movements and cues that will be easy to apply and assimilate. I work on this project almost daily.

  7. Some of these posts make my eyes glaze over so I look at the pictures! Once the concept starts to sink in a bit sometimes I can fill in the blanks from what you’ve written and sometimes as I’ve found going through life, I still have blanks!! I’m grateful for what you’re doing because it reaches so many different levels to those willing to have an open mind and had to chuckle about the big discussion between you and Thomas a couple of posts back; man he’s so much smarter than I am, he can actually discuss the subject:)

    That’s not the only thing I’d like to mention. Over the summer I’d been playing with how I run and walk especially going up hills/stairs and down hills/stairs. I found if I lower my COM which can only happen with ankle flex, it makes going up and down more efficient in being smoother but also needing less energy which tells me it is a more efficient body position rather “than the current trend in making boot shafts more upright to encourage skiers to ski in a more upright, relaxed stance should be deeply concerning especially in view of consistent claims that ski boots maximize energy transfer. ” So I’m finding that doing things with flexed joints is more efficient than my life long Frankenstein-straight-legged loco-lack-o-motion!

    I’d been advised in the past to ’round the shoulders’ but never found it helpful in any application. SO reading your explanation (see I can read a bit without getting lost all the time!) on how to round the shoulders was an instant way to do it. Only thing left to do was test so I took the dog for a walk, actually the dog took me, ’rounded’ my shoulders and trotted down the hill. Of course since never had done that before it felt a bit awkward but right away I could tell that it locked my whole body into accord with my feet, about the best way I can word it at this point. I felt much tighter with functional tension throughout the body and think that will translate great for skiing.

    As I took the last jumps on the trampoline before taking it down I did a couple of seat drops too. Then the idea came to try them with shoulders rounded also but couldn’t really ‘grab the barrel’ so it was a bit awkward BUT; the normal seat drop I could feel the impact shock radiate all the way up the spine every time whereas with shoulders rounded there was absolutely no shock waves at all! That I found very impressive because it corroborates what this post says (even though I did these tests last week) that the body allowed (and trained) to attain the correct position doesn’t have to be traumatized in the process of having fun. With correct equipment set ups I bet over 90% of the ski injuries could be avoided AND skiers would advance faster and thus enjoy it more. Funny because on the PSIA forum there is a lot of talk about pass rates for certification and many other issues that would disappear if the equipment wasn’t so terrible!!

    1. This morning I walked down the stairs. On the second flight I decided to ‘grab the barrel.’ I was amazed and had to repeat the sequence to make sure. Without the barrel walking down normally I feel a looseness of muscles and joints whereas grabbing the barrel, everything felt tight and thus a very controlled and precise walk down the stairs. Turns out I don’t have to ski it to believe it because I already do! Turns out another point for MacPhail; conventional ski world still looking for their first point………………

    2. Dear Michael,

      I was most interested in your descriptions of playing around with walking with the intension of experimenting with different skiing forms, especially “lowering your center of mass”. As I understand what you are talking about is bringing your pelvis closer to the ground creating sort of a monster or ape gait. In order to lower your pelvis to the ground you must bend the knees a bit and this as you say flexes the ankles. I guess Dave would say this is part of loading the Achilles, SR etc. (that part only Dave knows for sure if I paraphrased him correctly).

      What I am attempting to do is check with you and see if I understood the way you wanted me to hear you. If I missed your meaning let’s try again so I can hear your meaning the way you want to be known. I’m not stopping to hear your reply because I’m taking the liberty to guess I got your meaning the way you wanted it understood. If I guessed wrong please stop us here to take time to go back to hearing you, before we go farther down the path of misunderstanding.

      Actually I just started playing with this “monster walk” myself the other day as my interest was sparked by creating a body form to walk down hill with crampons so that the foot lands flat engaging all spikes simultaneously on the down sloping ice. I have in the past noticed that ski students who have problems walking down stairs in ski boots have specific leaning deficits. I have always hypothesized that it was their inability to drop each hip so the foot can reach the tread below. While I am not abandoning this idea as it does lengthen the gluteus medius and the quadratus lumborum, the monster walk creates additional body forms which seem to further aid descending as well.

      What I am wondering about is this what people do when they run down hill gracefully? Since we both have started playing with this, I would be most interested if you are willing to join in following these ideas farther sharing each others experiences.

      It works great down stairs in sneakers. The laughable thing here is perhaps for all Dave’s decades of research, possibly all we are confirming is “Bends zeeees knees, five dollars please!” thomas

      1. It is important to view issues such as the SR Stance in the perspective of the application to activities such as skiing and skating and not erroneously try to apply the SR Stance out of context based on uninformed observation which, unfortunately, is the source of the current epidemic of misinformation in skiing at all levels. The findings and teachings of Dr. Splichly and other experts in the barefoot camp are aligned with human locomotion which is most efficiently performed with a degree of lordosis (curvature) of the lower back while the SR Stance is specific to activities that require whole body core stability especially in the pelvis.

        A good example of the damage caused by uninformed observation and subjective interpretation in skiing is Bend zeee knees. A skier, or even a ski pro or coach, observes the knee bent stance of an elite skier and assumes that the knees are bent through active flexion of the knees as opposed to a relaxation of the hamstrings that allows the knees to bend by moving forward creating tension in the Achilles-PA thus setting up isometric contraction in the soleus. The difference is more than simply significant. It is huge.

        Uninformed observation and subjective interpretation also is the cause of such nonsensical, not to mention dangerous, concepts as knee angulation. The saying, “A little bit of knowledge is dangerous” is appropriate. If a little bit of knowledge is dangerous, no knowledge is infinitely dangerous.

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