Tens(ion) + (Int)egrity 

The optimal ramp angle, as determined by the dynamic ramp device, is based on a stance predicated on the principles of tensegrity.

Fascial continuity suggests that the myofascia acts like an adjustable tensegrity around the skeleton – a continuous inward pulling tensional network like the elastics, with the bones acting like the struts in the tensegrity model, pushing out against the restricting ‘rubber bands: Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains (1.)

A ski stance based on the principles of tensegrity must be learned and rehearsed in a step-by-step process. It is neither natural or intuitive although elite skiers and racers such as Shiffrin and Hirscher appear to have acquired the elements of tensegrity. Assuming a group of racers of equal athletic ability, the odds will favour those whose stance is based on tensegrity.

In a ski stance base on tensegrity, tension in the arches of the feet will extend to the palms of the hands holding the poles.

  1. Start by standing barefoot on a hard flat floor or surface in a controlled environment such as your home. Where possible, use the same surface and place to rehearse the stance. If you have constructed a dynamic ramp assessment device, use this with the top plate set to level.
  2. Stand upright at attention. You should feel most of the weight under your  heels and less weight across the balls of your feet. This is normal. The fore-aft weight distribution is actually 50-50 heel to forefoot. But because the weight of the body is spread across the balls of the feet and along the outer aspect behind the small toes, more weight is sensed under the heels. Stand so your weight is distributed equally between both feet.
  3. Relax your hamstrings (in your thighs) and let your torso drop towards the floor.  Your knees move forward as they flex and your ankles will dorsiflex. Your ankles should stop dorsiflexing on their own when the front of your knee caps are aligned approximately over the balls of your feet. This is the point where the tension in your soleus (calf muscle) peaks with the tension in your arches. You should feel about the same pressure under the balls of your feet as you feel under your heels. But it should feel as if the circle of pressure under your heels has gotten bigger and your feet should feel more connected or integrated with the floor. I call this ‘rooted’ because it should feel as if your feet have sunk into the floor.
  4. While keeping your upper body erect, move slightly forward in the hips. You will quickly reach a point where you start to become unstable and feel as if you would fall forward onto your face if you move farther forward in the hips. When you get to this point your big toes should press down on the floor on their own to try stabilize you. This is the forward limit of stability.
  5. Now move rearward in the hips until you start to feel the same instability. This is the rearmost limit of stability.
  6. Now bend forward from the waist. Do not curl your back. Bend from the hip sockets for the thigh. The movement is actually thigh flexion. Lift your thigh to get the right feeling. As you bend forward from the waist, let your buttocks move rearward.  Your ankles and knees straighten. Allow your buttocks to drop towards the floor until you feel your body settling onto your feet. As this happens, reach forward with your arms as if you were going to hug a large barrel in front of you. Make sure the palms of your hands are facing each other with fingers curled and pointing towards each other. Find the place where your arms and head feel neutral to your spine. As your arms come into position you should feel your abdominal core and muscles in your back acquire tension.
  7. Experiment by increasing the amount of flexion at the waist while keeping solid pressure under your heels and balls of your feet as you straighten your knees slightly. As you increase the forward bend at the waist, pressure should increase under the balls of your feet. But you should not feel unstable. If anything, you should feel stronger and more stable. Make sure to keep solid pressure under your heels as you increase the pressure under the balls of your feet. You should feel as if the weight of your head and shoulders is pressing your feet down into the floor.
  8. Increase the bend at your waist while keeping the pressure on the balls of your feet and heels until the top of your head is down by your knees. You should still feel very strong and stable in the feet. The is the lowermost limit of waist flexion.

Once you have acquired a kinesthetic sense of the integrity of foot to hand tension, a sense of stability while pulsing the torso vertically up and down over the feet confirms a state of tensegrity.

The photo below is of simple model I designed and constructed in 1993 to illustrate the basic concept of bottom up tensegrity and how the degree of tension in the arches of the feet and the vertical biokinetic chain is driven by the weight of COM stacked over the foot.

The graphic below shows the continuum of tension from the balls of the feet to the opposite shoulders through the mechanism of the transverse posterior sling.

In my next post I will discuss what I term the NABOSO Effect.



  1. Hi David, i hae been through many of your recent posts including thiq one and the SR Stance once but i am not sure i am 100% clear on how i can now assess my optimal ramp angle. Could you help me out (I have just bought new ski boots and want to start by setting the right ramp angle before anything else) ?

    1. Difficult question to answer. I don’t see ski shops and boot fitters getting into this issue any time because it is a big miss for the whole ski industry. Even if someone made a dynamic stance assessment device it takes someone with experience to train the person being tested in stance.

      Another whole problem is that boot boards and the shell boot board interface are all over the place. There is no standard I am aware of for either boot boards or bindings. This is why I came up with a device to measure ramp angle in the boots and even with boots mounted on skis.

      In 1991, we identified a ramp of 2.3 degrees for US men’s 8-12 feet and 2.5 degrees for US men’s 4-8 feet. This is the range recreational skiers are testing at with zero delta (binding). So a reasonable starting point would be 2.3 to 2.4 degrees boot board ramp angle and zero delta (binding). The other issue is whether you can even remove and/or alter the boot boards. I will be posting soon on poured in place boot boards we are experimenting with.

      1. Thanks David for your reply. If you would any hints to give a try by myself doing a few exercises/tests that would be a start (i created my own stance ramp already and exercised to feel tensegrity already multiple times). On purpose I changes my boots recently (moved from Head Vector with a complex boot board difficult to modify to K2 Spyne boots here should be an easy task to modify boot board) to reach required ramp angle and all my skis are already with a zero delta as well. At least i can give a try moving from 4° downto 2.4° and see what will happen. Thanks again.

      2. Are you following Dr. Emily Splichal (EBFA – NABOSO)? There is a recent article by her I will be posting on soon. My current theory is that a ramp angle of 1.2 to 1.5 degrees is beneficial but that 2.8 is the limit of the zone of stability. Try setting your ramp to 4 degrees and standing in the stance you feel stable on on a hard flat surface. It may take some time to adjust to 2.4 from 4.0. Once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever skied with 4.0. You may eventually end up at less than 1.5. But better to do in stages.

        This article has implications for skiing.

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