Sunday, October 08, 2006

Posture and Balance for Skiers

Basic postural alignment exercises for skiing ...

"All movements require a structural base in order to generate and absorb force. This is what we call posture. Since posture is the point at which movement begins and ends, movements that begin in less-than-optimal posture may have a less-than-optimal ending. On the ski slopes, this may translate into injury.

Although you may be tempted to view posture as being static, it is actually dynamic, constantly adapting to meet the demands placed on it by internal and external forces. Deviation from correct alignment can cause a change in your center of gravity. This will affect both your structural and functional efficiency. Maintaining balance through all the segments of the body is defined as postural equilibrium. Optimal alignment is essential to our athletic skill and neuromuscular efficiency. When proper length/tension relationships exist in the muscles, the kinetic chain can produce high levels of functional strength, agility and coordination. On the other hand, gravity is a bit unfriendly to the misaligned body. Being out of alignment can put us at war with the forces of nature.

When we sense our lack of control, our legs become rigid and insensitive to the feedback that the terrain provides for us. Our shoulders and neck tighten, our jaws clench and our heads jut forward. We think that rigidity gives us stability. In this, however, we are misinformed. In the battle of man or woman against mountain, the mountain will win again and again and again.

Unfortunately, the ergonomics of our daily lives set us up for postural disaster. The way we sit, stand, and walk can cause some muscles to become shortened while others are lengthened. Muscular imbalance will affect the ability of the nervous system to communicate with the muscles. As a result, recruitment patterns, and therefore movement patterns, become altered. Muscles respond by becoming either over- or under-active. Posture and balance are intrinsically related. Efficient athletic posture allows the knees and ankles to be parallel and slightly flexed. Core muscles are active. Ears are over the shoulders, and the eyes are focused straight ahead. This alignment allows us to be receptive to the forces of gravity.

The war is over. Skiing becomes a dance."    (Continued via Fast Tracks)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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