THOMAS’ THOUGHTS ON THE REPETILIAN BRAIN AND ITS EFFECT ON SKIER STANCE AND MOVEMENT


 

I started this blog with the objective of stimulating critical thinking on issues of skiing that would result in an intelligent, interactive dialogue. It appears as if this is beginning to happen as expressed in the critical thinking by Thomas in his comments on recent posts.

Thomas’ comments follow below with emphasis added in the form of underlined and bolded text by me.


This quote from W Hauser, P. Schaff, caught my eye.

“Many alpine skiers have insufficient mobility in their knees and ankle. The range of motion, particularly in the ankles, is much too small. This results in a static, stiff run. It does not correspond at all to the ideal of a wide range of mobility in the area of the knee and ankle, which was proposed and taught during early alpine ski lessons. Even the best diadactic (patronizing) methodology is not always successful in imparting to the student the full range of motion. The lack of proper technique seem so often is not due to a lack of ability, but to an unsatisfactory functional configuration of the shaft in so many ski boots. This is particularly true in models designed for children, adolescent and women.”

  • I would take a rather contrary view here and say the problem comes not from the boot design but a lack of technique. That is not because I disagree with Herr. Schaff.
  • The modern skiing didactic does not really teach the hard, strong, or tensioned arch which if I understand it correctly is only induced when a certain forward range of shank motion and COM is achieved.
  • This in turn sets up a chain reaction through the legs into the torso. Without this the skier can not attempt optimal form(s) or balance.
  • The arch concept is not widely taught or understood. Therefore there is not a demand for footwear that meets the basic requirements for optimal skiing.
  • Without this basic understanding it will be a matter of chance whether ski enthusiasts purchase or even know to adjust boots for full range of shank motion.
  • A key part of teaching stance technique has to become adjusting boot cuff for adequate shank range of motion. When I suggested to a student lessening cuff buckles, he reflexively tightened them. Ouch.
  • Once the body finds (if boots permit it) the strong arch, our neurology gravitates to your SR stance and presto all kinds of problems just go away including the back seat.

Rather disconcerting it all has to be reprogrammed after lunch.

This brings me back to a general question of safety with respect to equipment. Not is the equipment safe? But (is it) safe in terms of how the brain perceives safety (balance) and makes purchase decisions.

For example in skiing on one 190 cm ski and one 90 cm snowblade I notice that the 190 allows me to be way back without negative consequence. I had to really learn to keep balance on the strong arch of the 90cm snowblade. In a hockey stop the 90 snowblade flew out from under me up into the air! I remained upright because of the other ski’s long tail and the hard stop of the other boot. My reptilian (spinal reflex) brain reaction to the short snowblade was it was unstable and therefore dangerous.

The conclusion is when my brain tells me I am safe, I will want to ski all day long in really bad form with boots/skies designed to compensate for, well, bad technique. Therefore, neither would I likely ask other people to try the strong arch, SR, optimal range of motion cuffs, 90cm skies nor purchase lessons or equipment of like kind.

No one I ski with is willing to try the 90/long ski combo or the pair of 90s. My guess is because of their emotional reaction to imagining loss of stability; their brains will NOT permit them to even try.

These equipment usage and purchase decisions are occurring below the level of perception, consciousness. They are logical in terms of the reptilian brain’s safety hard wiring. I’m guessing this was the motivation for the student above to tighten (not loosen) boots because his brain equated more rigidity with security = safety.

If we want to ski better read this blog don’t listen to your reptilian brain anymore. Except when the speed and accuracy of these emotional reactions saves your life!