Increase Skiing Perfomance through Relaxation

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Increase Skiing Perfomance through Relaxation

Postby Harald Harb » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:07 am

How are where to relax
In recent lessons on snow I have been focusing on relaxation, very specific relaxation of certain areas of the body to facilitate efficient movement for transition, angulation and ski performance. We already know that being relaxed when we ski is important. Relaxation means many things to many people. How do we or should we relax? It is obvious that we can?t relax every muscle when skiing. Some parts of the body relax others are in tension and still others are moving through muscle co-contraction. Co-contraction, which I introduced in Book 1 and the Instructor Manual, refers to muscles on opposite sides of joints balancing and stabilizing the joint. It can also refer to muscles working in conjunction to absorb uneven surfaces. For example, the quad muscles extend the leg to maintain contact with the surface and the hamstring muscles control the body from dropping or lowering to quickly when the quads relax. We often speak about these activities in bump and powder skiing.

Muscle overuse
We also talk about ?relaxing to release? stance leg pressure at the end of a turn to allow tipping of the new free foot and leg. We know to the contrary, that in a wedge the muscles are always under tension. The muscles in both legs are contracted to maintain wedge stances. Beginners therefore suffer from muscle pain and fatigue. Theses issues are never addressed for this approach to skiing. Put a beginner from sea level in Colorado and teach him the wedge. About a half hour of this will reduce even a well conditioned person to a ball of mush. In a wedge there is never any relaxation period. The amount of overall tension in the wedge learner?s body also contributes to early fatigue. Fatigue and lactic acid in muscles interferes with quality of movement and mental acuity. This are the scenarios for skiers at the early levels of wedge teaching progressions.

Movement Efficiency
With the PMTS system the advantages go well beyond the immediate benefits of parallel skiing. With PMTS the skiers do last longer in the lesson without fatigue because stepping, shuffling and tipping movements are less debilitating to the muscles. In each step or movement there is a recovery period for the opposite muscle group. The PMTS system is efficient from every stand point, bio-mechanically, as well as in extending muscle endurance.

Efficiency at higher levels
Now let?s take this to the intermediate and advanced level. The intermediate skier trying to steer the skis to turn is actually doing to things. He is turning the femurs to turn the skis and he is contorting the body to stay in control. The deliberate steering actions of both legs can?t allow the body to keep the hip in an angulated position as the legs are twisting the pelvis into rotation. Now the skier has a dilemma. The skis are skidding and gaining speed. The only defense the skier has is to push the lower leg away to dig the ski into the snow to slow down, the same way they did in the wedge turn stop. This is an ugly picture. We have all seen it on the slopes.

Balance and separation of activity
When a skier is taught to balance on one leg the other leg can relax and valuable oxygenated blood rushes to the muscle. This keeps lactic acid from building in the muscles. (the leg on the inside does have activity, it tips to the inside of the turn with foot tipping from the extended phantom move activity, but this activity is an action of the invertors of the foot and external rotators of the hip.) These are different muscles then the ones used on the stance side. Some of you may see now why accurate delivery of movement is so important when teaching skiing. The proper movements help keep lactic acid from building up. The free ski side of the body can relax and the stance ski side does the balance and stance work.

Relaxing for performance
Now take this further, what if the free ski side of the body starting with the inside leg relaxes so much the body begins to collapse? This relaxation should move up the body and also apply to the hip and lower back. The collapsing through further relaxation moves the inside hip and CM farther into the center of the turn. More body angles are developed and the skis carve more efficiently. At the point of release the stance leg must relax and bend or flex to move to a new turn. When the legs relax in this way it is easy to tilt and move the feet and ankles so the skis move to their new edges. Compare this approach to pushing the CM into the turn. Pushing not only creates tension, but it also disrupts balance.


Tension of any kind in the legs during the release and transition, will interfere with a smooth turn entry. Pushing the CM around destroys balance and is very difficult to adjust for tuning of balance. Relaxing to let the body move with the natural forces of the mountain is the way to ski with balance and conservation of energy. PMTS presents the total picture. It is holistic in more ways than efficient movement it is bio-mechanically accurate and physiologically efficient.

More on this topic in the next installation on relaxing, I will also introduce the concept of mid body relaxation to achieve mid and upper body co-ordination.
Harald Harb
 

Postby HH » Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:10 am

Sorry a typo, first topic is "How and where to relax
HH
 

Postby Bluey » Fri Mar 19, 2004 2:58 pm

Relaxation of muscles........for me, really good relaxation seems to be an Outcome of my skiing style ( i.e. PMTS skiing style)....
rather than something I directly/explicitly consciously control as I ski the tougher stuff.

So, I agree with you Harald.
Last season, once I adopted/controllled my narrower stance and especially focused on alternating one-footed type of skiing ( ie really loading the stance foot with weight and so ligthening the free foot, as appropriate), I discovered what you were saying about relaxation of my muscles....it just happened.......suddenly my legs etc. weren't as tired and my turns started to flow better.


Last year, I read an article on Lito's site which has some of the aspects/message of your post on relaxation ...but obviously, your post is more in depth.

Here's the location of Lito's article for those interested, " The Hidden Bonus of Foot-to Foot Skiing ":

http://www.breakthroughonskis.com/Pages ... ion23.html

I especially liked this quote below from Lito's article :

"Imagine hopping down the street on both feet compared to simply walking. The reason we can hike 20 miles in a long day and not be cramped up at the end is that when walking, one leg works while one leg relaxes, every other step. The same principle applies in efficient skiing."



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Postby Guest » Fri Mar 19, 2004 6:52 pm

Mr. Harb you wrote;

"Fatigue and lactic acid in muscles interferes with quality of movement and mental acuity. This are the scenarios for skiers at the early levels of wedge teaching progressions."

Could you please relate the nexus between lactic acid build-up and mental acuity?

You go on to write;

"When a skier is taught to balance on one leg the other leg can relax and valuable oxygenated blood rushes to the muscle."

Can you expound on this a bit. Are you suggesting concentric, eccentric or isometric muscular contraction preclude vascualar activity.

Mr Harb, the production of lactic acid occurs at all times in the body and any acceleration of production is most commonly linked to heart rate not muscle use.

I would suggest your rational for PMTS vs any use of a wedge is a tad far fetched.
Guest
 

Postby piggyslayer » Sun Mar 21, 2004 10:29 pm

We use phantom movements of the free leg to turn on the stance leg.
We relax as opposed to contract muscles to make turns.
The science of modern PMTS skiing could be called ?homeopathic skiing?.
To me, it is the main reason why skiing is so festinating: full control, deep angles with so little intervention on the part of skier, probably the only sport which uses gravity to control gravity.

Guest wrote:
....
Can you expound on this a bit. Are you suggesting concentric, eccentric or isometric muscular contraction preclude vascualar activity.

Mr Harb, the production of lactic acid occurs at all times in the body and any acceleration of production is most commonly linked to heart rate not muscle use.

I would suggest your rational for PMTS vs any use of a wedge is a tad far fetched.


I am not an expert, but really!?
I have been pumping iron for a decade or so and have read more than one book on the subject.
I believe the muscle involvement during pizza turns is anaerobic and isometric workout. The impact on muscles and muscle tissue is similar to that from working out with weights. In particular, pizza turns are similar to doing negatives. Negatives are well known in the gym to cause muscle soreness and many experienced weight lifters/body builders limit amount of negatives in the workout (I do not do any!).

The position of scientific community (as I know it) on the lactic acid has been changing a bit over the years. However, it is commonly acknowledged that isometric and anaerobic workout leads to tissue hypoxia (resulting from lack of oxygen in the muscle), accumulation of various waste products in the muscle tissue, and in the liver (including lactic acid) and muscle microtrauma (micro-tears of muscle fibers).
All of the above are commonly understood as muscle damage and are avoided by advanced gym goers.
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Postby piggyslayer » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:33 am

? I did not finish my post yesterday, it got late and I had other things to do. Here is the continuation.

Gym rats deal with lack of oxygen (hypoxia) by resting between sets (1-3 minutes). To reduce other muscle fatigue and soreness an advanced iron pusher will take minimum 3 day rests on each body part. Muscle recovery is a big topic for advanced gym rat. However, such rest periods are not realistic when skiing.
I find all of the muscle soreness elements outlined in Harald post are very consistent with current anaerobic workout science.

I think I am being trapped by the negativity of Guest post. Sorry for that, I hope, what I wrote has not been waste of this thread.
I can?t believe someone questions negative correlation between mental acuity and pain from muscle fatigue!

The fact is that since becoming PMTS student, I am no longer sore after first days of skiing every season. I remember it used to be different. I never thought about it before (when you sore you notice, when you not you don?t).

So Mr Harb. Thanks a lot.
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Postby Mister T » Mon Mar 22, 2004 9:28 am

I do not have the scientific knowledge to enter into the technicalities of a discussion about the production of lactic acid and its link to relaxation. However, as a former track & field athete I can attest that when I ran the 400 metres dash it was paramount to keep relaxed. Tension in muscles always resulted in less than acceptable performance and more fatigue after a race.
And I would add that more recently, after learning how to relax (easier done with PMTS then with any other approach I know of), I managed to complete non-stop runs on slopes where I had never been successful before.
Plus, GUEST need not make wrong inferences: most of us are not following PMTS because we need to distinguish ourselves or because we do not have anything better to do, we don't listen to HH because we are easily captured by his talking (in other words, if he told me to go and jump off a cliff, I would still ask him to show it to me first! ). Many of us got into PMTS by comparison and comparison is a fairly scientific approach to skiing and to a lot of facts of life in general.

I am also PSIA and I am not telling GUEST to go and kill him\herself. Criticism can help make myself better at supporting my ideas, if they are truly any good. But it seems to me he is not experimenting with PSIA and PMTS together. Even a not so great skier like me can notice the difference, shouldn't GUEST who should be some kind of champion in his chosen world? Try for yourself: be honest and if it does not help you, goobye PMTS, if it helps you, you will be a better skier for that. It seems to me that GUEST is in a win-win situation. The only loss is his/her unwillingness to have an open mind.
Mister T
 

Mental Acuity and Lactic Acid

Postby John Mason » Mon Mar 22, 2004 7:02 pm

I'm not sure what "Guest" was fishing for here. It's obvious that a person that is fatiqued does not perform as well mentally. Once you've wore yourself out with a wedge your not going to be as receptive and able to receive new instruction in either a mental or physical fashion.

If your legs are burned out from anerobic activity and the lack of alternating contractions which clear out the normal lactic acid build up, you get fatigued overall, not just in your legs, but your whole self. You then are not as sharp.

Try hopping a block vs walking a block. Legs, in particular, are into alternating stresses, not continual ones. A wedge does not follow our body's natural evolution and means of functioning. Since it's unneccessary and causes many habits that are dificult to overcome why make it the normal progression for beginners.

ok

new list

3 biggest differences from PMTS and some other peoples' approaches to ski instruction

1. Wedge as a basis for stability at the expense of developing skier balance for beginners
2. Outside leg steering - Using the outside leg to shape or initiate a turn rather than tipping of the skis and letting the skis turn you.
3. A wide stance - while a natural progression from a wedge, a wide stance, like the wedge, is contrary to developing balance and increases the effort of releasing the turn
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Postby -- SCSA » Tue Mar 23, 2004 8:17 am

Terrell Davis, former Bronco running back great, when asked about his running he always said, "I just try to relax, when I'm running."

Michael Johnson said the same thing.

....So relax! :)
-- SCSA
 

Postby Harald » Wed Mar 24, 2004 6:42 pm

I know exactly what ?guest? is fishing for. I will not comment or post to people who try to instigate and provoke. Educating people who make inappropriate comments and present misleading information is futile. They are not appearing on the forum to contribute, only to get a rise out of people. John, MrT and Piggyslayer you have it right on all counts. Guest is demonstrating more than just misunderstandings with that post.
Harald
 


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