Few would dispute the position that balance is everything in skiing. It is probably widely assumed that in most, if not all sports, the most highly trained athletes, especially those at the highest level,  have the best balance. It is also probably assumed that this would be especially true of the best racers at the World Cup level of competition. However, a paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (1) states:

“……few studies have analysed subjects’ postural performance in order to discriminate the expertise level among highly skilled athletes of a specific discipline and results remain controversial…….. no study has been carried out to evaluate postural control in alpine skiers”.

“The results obtained in the REF condition are not in agreement with previous studies concerning expertise in sport and postural ability since they illustrate reduced postural performance as the level of competition increases (my emphasis added). However, the results can be explained by considering the specificity of alpine skiing, which involves the necessary use of ski boots over most of the training period. As Schaff and Hauser demonstrated, very stiff ski boots as used by competition skiers act as an external ankle support which mechanically restricts ankle joint motion. The effects of such ankle immobilisation are similar to those induced by ankle braces, and it is known that restriction of ankle movement has a significant detrimental effect on postural control (my emphasis added).

“The present study shows that skiers at the highest level of competition presented inferior postural performance compared to lower level skiers when standing without ski boots. This result illustrates a long term effect of repetitive wearing of ski boots which impairs the postural performance of high level skiers.”

IT’S A MATTER OF BALANCE was originally published on December 13, 2015. The entire post can be viewed at  – http://wp.me/p3vZhu-1do

  1. Is postural control affected by expertise in alpine skiing? (F Noe ́, T Paillard: Br J Sports Med 2005;39:835–837. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2005.018127)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1725069/pdf/v039p00835.pdf