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Building better balance.

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#1
We've talked a lot about getting fit for skiing. Building better balance is important, too -- more particularly, "dynamic" balance, or the balance we need while we are actually skiing. There's a great article about how to work on this during the summer in this month's VT Ski + Ride. It's written by Doug Stewart, who's an Examiner for the Eastern Division of the PSIA. Go here.
 

kiki

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
Thanks for this article! Maybe time to dust off my rollerblades ;-)

Do any of you do these exercises or have tried the simulator they talk about?
 

VickiK

Angel Diva
#5
@skibum4ever

My balance work is a mix and match consisting of:
- lateral hops from side to side, point being to land balanced on one foot
- taking random opportunities to stand on one leg, for example, do an arabesque to pick something up from the floor, or pick up something off the floor with my toes, standing on one leg. Obviously I don't do this in public.
- rebounder bouncing
- the yoga tree pose
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
Most of what I do that is specifically for 1-leg balance is based on this video. Standing around waiting for whatever reason is often an opportunity for standing on 1-leg in some fashion. What I learned from knee rehab was that repetition on a daily basis was important when it came to improving balance, meaning 2-3 times a day. Even if each time was only 5-10 minutes.

 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Huh, I never really gave up/down balance and trampolines much thought... our gym doesn't have air mats, but we do use a tumble track for some of our tumbling, especially when we're training a new skill, and I guess that does require some (albeit maybe unconscious at this point) control over how much force we're putting into the tramp and also coping with the feedback we get from it.

I've never really done anything specific to work on my balance for skiing, but that's because I do gymnastics, and so I've adopted the lazy mentality of that's probably good enough. lol I am contemplating picking up yoga once a week, which would probably help to, although my reason for considering that is because my flexibility isn't anywhere near where I want it.
 
#8
Huh, I never really gave up/down balance and trampolines much thought... our gym doesn't have air mats, but we do use a tumble track for some of our tumbling, especially when we're training a new skill, and I guess that does require some (albeit maybe unconscious at this point) control over how much force we're putting into the tramp and also coping with the feedback we get from it.

I've never really done anything specific to work on my balance for skiing, but that's because I do gymnastics, and so I've adopted the lazy mentality of that's probably good enough. lol I am contemplating picking up yoga once a week, which would probably help to, although my reason for considering that is because my flexibility isn't anywhere near where I want it.
You should definitely try yoga out for a bit! I’m naturally quite flexible, and I still notice a significant difference when I am going weekly or more often. During ski season I usually don’t have time to keep up with it, and when I go back in the spring it takes me around 4-6 weeks to feel back at my peak flexibility. There are many more physical and mental benefits to regular yoga practice as well. Sometimes it takes some trial and error finding classes and more importantly instructors whose style you like though.
 

VickiK

Angel Diva
#9
It seems like gymnastics would be enough to develop & maintain one's sense of balance. All that proprioception of knowing where your body is in space when you're in motion would necessarily fire off balancing senses, wouldn't it. Then, if the move isn't executed quite right, your balance would kick in to help you avoid falling.

If not yoga, try a stretch therapy class. I always seem to push myself too hard in stretching. I don't do the classes because of that, but stretch on my own.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#10
I do half and hour of yoga every morning. It's pretty basic stuff, but I think it's a good way to maintain balance and flexibility. I'm playing a long game here. I've seen a lot of older people with issues in these areas, and I'm hoping this will help me avoid that later on.
 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
You should definitely try yoga out for a bit! I’m naturally quite flexible, and I still notice a significant difference when I am going weekly or more often. During ski season I usually don’t have time to keep up with it, and when I go back in the spring it takes me around 4-6 weeks to feel back at my peak flexibility. There are many more physical and mental benefits to regular yoga practice as well. Sometimes it takes some trial and error finding classes and more importantly instructors whose style you like though.
The bad news is I've done yoga before, and I'm generally not a fan of it. lol I generally find it a bit slow for my taste. Maybe I'd like Vinyasa more since it flows, but I struggled to keep up in the couple Vinyasa classes I took because I never learned most of the poses due to my inexperience and given that I never stick with it.

I am envious of your flexibility. I have the flex of a corpse, always have, even as a kid. I had to really work at it even as a kid in gymnastics. I've been trying to stretch more at home, daily if I can.
 
#12
I do half and hour of yoga every morning. It's pretty basic stuff, but I think it's a good way to maintain balance and flexibility. I'm playing a long game here. I've seen a lot of older people with issues in these areas, and I'm hoping this will help me avoid that later on.
Good for you! Naomi of Alta Lodge did yoga every day. She's the woman who was still skiing two weeks out of every month in her 90s.
 

racetiger

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#15
I've been doing random one leg balances, biking, a little bit of skateboarding, and gonna try a ski/snowboard oriented trampoline class one of these days.
 
#16
Even though skiing technique is more related to dynamic balance than static balance, my attitude is that improving static balance is still going to be useful. It's a lot easier to work in a few minutes of static balance stuff on a daily basis.

Came across an article about yoga and balance a while ago:
https://annwestyoga.com/yoga-balance-static-vs-dynamic-balance/
" . . .
Learning progression

The progression of learning to improve balance is to begin with static balances. You could start by standing with two legs wide; then gradually narrow the feet together; then balance on one foot. Try each position first with eyes open and then with eyes closed.

Once you have mastered the ability to balance on one leg with ease, you can move on to more dynamic balances. Start by adding movement to a static balance by moving your arms or second leg. Then try standing on an uneven surface, like a pillow or two. You can even ask someone to challenge your ability to maintain your balance by gently pushing you as you stand on one leg.
. . ."
 
#17
The bad news is I've done yoga before, and I'm generally not a fan of it. lol I generally find it a bit slow for my taste. Maybe I'd like Vinyasa more since it flows, but I struggled to keep up in the couple Vinyasa classes I took because I never learned most of the poses due to my inexperience and given that I never stick with it.

I am envious of your flexibility. I have the flex of a corpse, always have, even as a kid. I had to really work at it even as a kid in gymnastics. I've been trying to stretch more at home, daily if I can.
Yeah, it’s either go to a slower beginner class to learn the poses or be okay with just trying to follow along in faster classes. I chose the latter just because my schedule would never sync up with beginner specific classes for some reason. So I had quite a few classes of trying to mimic others around me and feeling silly because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, but you catch on pretty quickly.
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
#18
I feel pretty lucky that the first place I took yoga classes from had an instructor who was very good at telling you which way your hips should be facing, for example, and other proper positioning info so that I wouldn't hurt myself. It was also a pretty low-key studio, so if we were trying to do something in the middle of class and you weren't getting it you could just ask out loud - things like - Is it more important for my feet to be flat on the floor or for my body to be upright? Because in some poses, you can't have both!
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#19
Most of what I do that is specifically for 1-leg balance is based on this video. Standing around waiting for whatever reason is often an opportunity for standing on 1-leg in some fashion. What I learned from knee rehab was that repetition on a daily basis was important when it came to improving balance, meaning 2-3 times a day. Even if each time was only 5-10 minutes.

Oh, this is a great video! I've done all of these exercises before - my physio gave me these (and many more!) when i was recovering from a bad ankle injury. I totally agree with your learnings from your knee rehab - little and often works great for this type of thing. I used to try to stand on one leg while brushing my teeth :smile: this has reminded me that i should really keep up some of these exercises, they're bound to be useful for balance!

I do a little ice skating as well which you'd think would be good for ski balance, but in ice skating you're not doing downhill and it's also possible to have exactly the same postural issues across both sports - don't ask me how i know ;) the flipside is that i think improvements in one sport will crossover to the other! (to some degree, anyway - you DO want a good ankle bend and upright posture/no back-seating in skating, but you DON'T want to get your weight forward on your blade as you do with skiing, that will result in you lying on the ice!)

Also, back to balancing poses, one leg standing etc - doing it with eyes closed is meant to be very useful to help develop better proprioception. :smile:
 
#20
Had a thought recently related to 1-leg balance . . . here are questions to think about. No need to answer except to yourself.

How do you put on pants? Sitting down or standing? Same for shorts as long pants?
How do you put on socks? Sitting or standing?
 

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