Balance in Motion
It's one thing to balance while standing still, it's a whole new game to balance 4 limbs independently relevant to the "centrifugal" force while attempting to elegantly slide downhill. As discussed in The ABC’s of Proprioception of Skiing Part 1, balance is achieved by controlling the body's centre of gravity over the base of support. Next is coordination, the ability to use different body parts together smoothly and efficiently.
Skiing is all about coordination and dynamic balance of the entire body...
Dynamic Dryland Drills
After gaining confidence with stationary balance exercises. It's time to add in coordination components beginning with simple and advancing to complex patterns. Since skiing challenges us to move our base of support while on a continually changing surface it makes sense that our dryland drills should reflect that. Remember to pick a safe spot and manage your surroundings. Maintain a neutral spine and remember to keep your eyes up and your chin level.
Most of us have a dominant side to throw or kick a ball. Often throughout the course of our lives as we continue to develop our muscle patterns we unconsciously create large imbalances. In the process it is quite common to have a slight rotation of the pelvis or entire spine. Rotation control is a big factor in everyday life and in skiing. Awareness of our current habits is the first step to correcting them if need be.
Stacked Spine Rotation: This exercise really reveals the difference between left and right.
There are a TON of different balance boards out there. They all have their pros and cons. Personally, I think the one that is in your home that you are most likely to use is the best one. The next three variations of exercises are all forward. back, side to side moves. In skiing we load our ankles in a variety of planes. It's great to be strong in a neutral ankle position, but skiing is dynamic. Therefore, it makes usless prone to injury as we build more powerful legs using a broader range of motion. Keep in mind that these drills build our strength but skiing itself is actually an open chain movement as we slide over the snow instead of being fixed to a balance board. These exercises can be done on most types of balance boards. To add the arms into the pattern, grabs poles. Hold them like you would while skiing and coordinating the foot pattern with where in the turn you would swing and plant your pole. Check out some of the links below for the drills on snow these exercises can better prep us for.
Standing on a BOSU or balance board of some nature with feet under your hips. This is a relevant stance to skiing off piste or though moguls when you are standing on both skis fairly equally.
One foot Balance Board Partial Weight Bearing
Introduce one foot movement by simply putting one foot on the balance board while keeping your other foot firmly on the ground behind or carefully beside.
One Foot Balance Board
Step onto the balance board with one foot. Remember your eye line can greatly change your balance. Keep your eyes up with your spine in a neutral and stacked position.
Walk the Plank
Even though we do not walk heel to toe in skiing, it is an excellent way to challenge our balance, especially laterally. When you switch to backwards, maintain that excellent spine stack and rotation control. As soon as we go backwards our tendency is to revert to the comfort zone habits. Backwards forces us to pay attention and incorporate muscles in a new and advantageous way. One helpful tip to remember when travelling backwards is to place your toes right behind your heel, it really helps to ensure you are on the desired path and avoid injury as the plank gets higher.
Forwards + Backwards on the Ground: Begin with simply walking along a clear line or board on the ground heel to toe fashion. Committing to one plank on a dock works excellent for this. Once you have successfully walked the "plank" a few times, close your eyes and do it again. Remember that the carriage of your head and chin can significantly change your balance whether your eyes are open or not. Keep your eyes up with your spine in a neutral and stacked position.
Raise the Plank: Eyes open, with the plank raised a foot or so off the ground walk a heel to toe line again. It is easy to immediately revert to a braced body and lose some of the fluidity and smooth nature in the step.
Make it a Ramp: Clearly dependent on the comfort of the situation and having mastered the previous variations, find a log on a slope or securely lift one end of the plank to create a raised ramp.
Any sport or activity that involves balancing while moving can benefit our balance and coordination while skiing. Ice skating, roller skating, water skiing and the list goes on. Having said that, ski simulators are specifically designed to follow similar movement patterns to snow skiing. Check out some of these demos for how to use them to help you with ski specific coordination drills.
Summer Thighs is focused on coordinating and matching edge angles.
Summer Bars Off Season Variation
This drill helps you to develop the disciplined upper body while moving in a dynamic and stacked spine.
Keep the vibe alive!!!
Building a proper foundation of balance and coordination is FANTASTIC. But it can be easy to feel lost in the process so it's handy to have a crew to hold you accountable and to check in with! Check out the Weekly Ski Fitness Focus in the forums to help keep you on it with a fresh challenge! Plus so many other intriguing conversations! Cheers to the ski season! It never really ends!