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Too much too soon?

#1
This has been my first weekend back to skiing for the year. The first day of skiing, my husband and I stayed mainly on blacks and did a couple double blacks. The next two days after that I noticed my legs were extremely sore and I can barely make it down a black without falling or needing to take multiple breaks.

Have any of you experienced just absolutely wearing yourself out skiing? And what is some advice to get your ski legs back? What do you do on a day when you’re absolutely worn out but still want to hit the mountain?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#2
Where did you go? How much altitude change from where you live? I'm wondering if you got a little dehydrated being at higher altitude. Can be hard to stop and drink when having too much fun. Especially if with someone who is pushing to keep going full throttle for as long as possible.

Ironically one of the advantages of not living in ski country is that my first ski days are at a small hill where skiing too hard is pretty much impossible given my current fitness level and skiing ability. But even as an older intermediate starting to ski more often a decade ago, it was hard to overdo it.

When I started taking trips out west (after age 50), I always planned to not ski full tilt the first day or two. Partially due to altitude adjustment. But also because I wanted to enjoy the entire week. So sticking to easier terrain the first afternoon made more sense. If the friends I was with wanted to ski longer, I'd relax in the lodge until they were done.

There is another factor that may be worth thinking about. Having sore legs can mean your technique could use a bit of improvement. Especially on steeper terrain, subtle changes can make mean less muscle power is needed to make turns. But have to invest time to work on fundamentals on less exciting terrain.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Which part of your legs was sore? Was it the quads, which are on top of your thighs from hip to knee? Or was some other area of your legs giving you trouble?

On those blacks and double blacks (I'm assuming groomed), did you find yourself "working" to keep up with a stronger, faster, and/or more confident skier?

What I'm wondering is whether technique issues under duress caused the issue or not, and whether you pulled a muscle, or overused a muscle, or pulled/tore a ligament/tendon.

The fatigue thing can be anticipated and prevented by running or doing some other kind of endurance activity for a couple of months before ski season starts... next time.

Overworking the quads will tire anyone out fast, though. Those muscles are huge and draw a lot of blood, and they want a lot of oxygen in that blood to use for fuel. If they don't get it they wear out and quiver, make your brain go blank, which in turn causes clumsy moves. Those worn-out muscles will make you pay that afternoon and for days afterwards as they try to rebuild what got worn down as you over-taxed them on snow. This can be averted with technical changes to how you ski. Quad burn might or might not not be your issue.
 
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#5
Which part of your legs was sore? Was it the quads, which are on top of your thighs from hip to knee? Or was some other area of your legs giving you trouble?

On those blacks and double blacks (I'm assuming groomed), did you find yourself "working" to keep up with a stronger, faster, and/or more confident skier?

What I'm wondering is whether technique issues under duress caused the issue or not, and whether you pulled a muscle, or overused a muscle, or pulled/tore a ligament/tendon.

The fatigue thing can be anticipated and prevented by running or doing some other kind of endurance activity for a couple of months before ski season starts... next time.

Overworking the quads will tire anyone out fast, though. Those muscles are huge and draw a lot of blood, and they want a lot of oxygen in that blood to use for fuel. If they don't get it they wear out and quiver, make your brain go blank, which in turn causes clumsy moves. Those worn-out muscles will make you pay that afternoon and for days afterwards as they try to rebuild what got worn down as you over-taxed them on snow. This can be averted with technical changes to how you ski. Quad burn might or might not not be your issue.
Which part of your legs was sore? Was it the quads, which are on top of your thighs from hip to knee? Or was some other area of your legs giving you trouble?

On those blacks and double blacks (I'm assuming groomed), did you find yourself "working" to keep up with a stronger, faster, and/or more confident skier?

What I'm wondering is whether technique issues under duress caused the issue or not, and whether you pulled a muscle, or overused a muscle, or pulled/tore a ligament/tendon.

The fatigue thing can be anticipated and prevented by running or doing some other kind of endurance activity for a couple of months before ski season starts... next time.

Overworking the quads will tire anyone out fast, though. Those muscles are huge and draw a lot of blood, and they want a lot of oxygen in that blood to use for fuel. If they don't get it they wear out and quiver, make your brain go blank, which in turn causes clumsy moves. Those worn-out muscles will make you pay that afternoon and for days afterwards as they try to rebuild what got worn down as you over-taxed them on snow. This can be averted with technical changes to how you ski. Quad burn might or might not not be your issue.
My quads are burning. I am a runner so I may focus on my quads too much when skiing since I’m used to using that muscle. Any tweaks you would advise for using your quads too much when skiing? I skied off and on for years as a kid and this is my second full ski season. My husband is a much more skilled skier than I am. I can easily ski a black (when my legs are not dead) but double blacks are a bit more challenging. I am pretty confident and aggressive on the mountain so sometimes I forget to think about my form since I already feel comfortable. But improving my skiing is a big goal of mine. I would like to be able to keep up with my husband on the double blacks.
 
#6
Where did you go? How much altitude change from where you live? I'm wondering if you got a little dehydrated being at higher altitude. Can be hard to stop and drink when having too much fun. Especially if with someone who is pushing to keep going full throttle for as long as possible.

Ironically one of the advantages of not living in ski country is that my first ski days are at a small hill where skiing too hard is pretty much impossible given my current fitness level and skiing ability. But even as an older intermediate starting to ski more often a decade ago, it was hard to overdo it.

When I started taking trips out west (after age 50), I always planned to not ski full tilt the first day or two. Partially due to altitude adjustment. But also because I wanted to enjoy the entire week. So sticking to easier terrain the first afternoon made more sense. If the friends I was with wanted to ski longer, I'd relax in the lodge until they were done.

There is another factor that may be worth thinking about. Having sore legs can mean your technique could use a bit of improvement. Especially on steeper terrain, subtle changes can make mean less muscle power is needed to make turns. But have to invest time to work on fundamentals on less exciting terrain.
We went to Breckenridge so about a 9,000 ft altitude difference (I live in the high plains). I will say I am awful about staying hydrated. What are some technique exercises that you would recommend? I don’t mind less exciting terrain if it means that the practice will make me a better skier.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
My quads are burning. I am a runner so I may focus on my quads too much when skiing since I’m used to using that muscle. Any tweaks you would advise for using your quads too much when skiing? I skied off and on for years as a kid and this is my second full ski season. My husband is a much more skilled skier than I am. I can easily ski a black (when my legs are not dead) but double blacks are a bit more challenging. I am pretty confident and aggressive on the mountain so sometimes I forget to think about my form since I already feel comfortable. But improving my skiing is a big goal of mine. I would like to be able to keep up with my husband on the double blacks.
Look at these two images. The first shows ankles closed. That means the lower leg, the shin, is tilted forward from ankle up to knee.
closed ankles #2.png

This next shows ankles open. The lower leg rises at 90 degrees to the ski. This is our default stance position, learned on dryland from years of practice standing around. It needs to be unlearned for skiing, because it leads to backseat skiing.
open ankles #1.png

You can train yourself to keep ankles closed, but it takes paying attention to what your ankles are doing while skiing. You'll lose that attention, and need to bring it back when you notice that - whoops! - you lost it and the ankles are open. This is the first thing I work with clients on to get them to stop sitting back using their quads.

This next image has a line drawn upward from the foot, perpendicular to the surface of the ski. Notice how this skier, with closed ankles, has about equal body mass behind and in front of the line. He's a guy with broad shoulders and narrow hips. If he were a woman with narrow shoulders and slight chest, but wide hips, he might need to be even more "forward" to have his body mass and weight centered on his skis. Closing the ankles would do it.

Now imagine this guy (Warren Smith who runs Warren Smith Academy in Europe) not changing anything about his stance, but now he's on a tilted slope. His skis are tilted downhill, and his body is tilted more than it appears in this image. He will feel like he's waaay forward over the fronts of his skis, even though nothing has changed and he's pretty centered over the skis. In either case, his quads probably won't be working all that much because he's using his skeleton to hold himself up; he's fore-aft balanced, not back.
closed ankles shin tilt equals spine tilt.jpeg

Here's a skier, not a confident nor aggressive one, who has open ankles and is dramatically sitting back. Those quads are getting quite a workout, similar to do doing wall-sits. You, a confident and aggressive skier, may be doing a version of this at speed and not know it. Ask yourself, are your shins rising up at a 90 degree angle from your skis? Or are they tilted forward?
sitting back with ankles open.png

Wall sits. I can't believe this woman is smiling. Oh, maybe that's a grimace:smile: image.png

Usually open ankles are accompanied by sitting back or leaning waay forward at the waist. Your lower back doesn't hurt, it's your quads that hurt, so I'm guessing you were doing some sitting back on those blacks, keeping up with hubby.

@Skisailor has an alternative solution to sitting back. It involves going up and down, opening and closing the ankles, with each turn. You might find this easier to do since that up-down movement makes itself known more dramatically than keeping the ankle closed does. The up-down movement will draw attention to itself more than the closed ankles, you'll notice that you've lost it faster, and so you'll be able to put it back into your skiing more thoroughly.

If doing the necessary repetitions (best done on nonintimidating terrain) to embed the closed ankle thing is too boring or time-consuming for you, try skisailor's approach. Perhaps she will post here.
 
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#10
Look at these two images. The first shows ankles closed. That means the lower leg, the shin, is tilted forward from ankle up to knee.
View attachment 9544

This next shows ankles open. The lower leg rises at 90 degrees to the ski. This is our default stance position, learned on dryland from years of practice standing around. It needs to be unlearned for skiing, because it leads to backseat skiing.
View attachment 9539

You can train yourself to keep ankles closed, but it takes paying attention to what your ankles are doing while skiing. You'll lose that attention, and need to bring it back when you notice that - whoops! - you lost it and the ankles are open. This is the first thing I work with clients on to get them to stop sitting back using their quads.

This next image has a line drawn upward from the foot, perpendicular to the surface of the ski. Notice how this skier, with closed ankles, has about equal body mass behind and in front of the line. He's a guy with broad shoulders and narrow hips. If he were a woman with narrow shoulders and slight chest, but wide hips, he might need to be even more "forward" to have his body mass and weight centered on his skis. Closing the ankles would do it.

Now imagine this guy (Warren Smith who runs Warren Smith Academy in Europe) not changing anything about his stance, but now he's on a tilted slope. His skis are tilted downhill, and his body is tilted more than it appears in this image. He will feel like he's waaay forward over the fronts of his skis, even though nothing has changed and he's pretty centered over the skis. In either case, his quads probably won't be working all that much because he's using his skeleton to hold himself up; he's fore-aft balanced, not back.
View attachment 9540

Here's a skier, not a confident nor aggressive one, who has open ankles and is dramatically sitting back. Those quads are getting quite a workout, similar to do doing wall-sits. You, a confident and aggressive skier, may be doing a version of this at speed and not know it. Ask yourself, are your shins rising up at a 90 degree angle from your skis? Or are they tilted forward?
View attachment 9542

Wall sits. I can't believe this woman is smiling. Oh, maybe that's a grimace:smile: View attachment 9543

Usually open ankles are accompanied by sitting back or leaning waay forward at the waist. Your lower back doesn't hurt, it's your quads that hurt, so I'm guessing you were doing some sitting back on those blacks, keeping up with hubby.

@Skisailor has an alternative solution to sitting back. It involves going up and down, opening and closing the ankles, with each turn. You might find this easier to do since that up-down movement makes itself known more dramatically than keeping the ankle closed does. The up-down movement will draw attention to itself more than the closed ankles, you'll notice that you've lost it faster, and so you'll be able to put it back into your skiing more thoroughly.

If doing the necessary repetitions (best done on nonintimidating terrain) to embed the closed ankle thing is too boring or time-consuming for you, try skisailor's approach. Perhaps she will post here.

I honestly think my problem might be using my quads too much. Someone (not a ski instructor but one of the many people who have taken me skiing in the earlier years) told me to almost sit back when you are going down hard terrain and powder. I’ve kept that stance and it’s affected my skiing. You’re explanation has helped so much! Thank you! I think I may spend the first couple runs everyday I ski practicing the closed ankle stance.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
That was VERY BAD advice. Oh my!
To embed the closed ankle thing, you'll need to work towards ALWAYS having the ankles closed. You're going to lose that focus when your attention is pulled to other things, but just keep bringing it back. You'll also probably have trouble doing it when the skis are pointed straight down the hill on blues and blacks. Practice on the downhill side of little humps here and there, so your body will learn that it won't die just because your ankles are closed. I like to use beginner terrain park jumps for doing this practice. The problem there is the kids wanting to take a jump while my students and I are just practicing doing straight runs down one jump after another. Oh well, they'll just have to wait.
 
#12
We went to Breckenridge so about a 9,000 ft altitude difference (I live in the high plains). I will say I am awful about staying hydrated. What are some technique exercises that you would recommend? I don’t mind less exciting terrain if it means that the practice will make me a better skier.
That's a LOT of altitude adjustment! Might be worth considering a Camelback that's designed for skiing.

@liquidfeet is an instructor. I'm not. So I don't make specific suggestions about technique to advanced skiers. Except to say that lessons with very experienced instructors are worthwhile at any ability level. Definitely not just for beginners and intermediates.

If you can do a Taos Ski Week, you'll learn exactly what are the issues that get you need to work on the most. Might not end up being what you expect. After you post a few more times, you'll be able to see the MOTH (Meet On The Hill) threads for when there will be Divas doing Taos Ski Weeks. Since the lessons are only in the mornings, it's fun to go when other Divas are around to ski with in the afternoons. Keep in mind that there are experts who ski double blacks at TSV who still do a Ski Week every year.

What I know more about is the exercises that are good for ski conditioning. Working on 1-leg balance, core strength, and flexibility makes far more difference than you might guess. Especially for someone who already has strong legs.
 
#13
Too add to the good advice you've gotten: You mention your quads repeatedly. Some of us are quad dominant. My quads want to do everything for all the muscles. If you google "quad dominant" you'll find good, easy exercises to help strengthen your gluts and hamstrings. The more you can get in touch with/develop these muscles, the more you can be mindful of using your other muscles and thus take the pressure off the quads.

But yeah if your stance is back seat, you have to deal with that pronto.
 
#14
Hi theyardsaleexpert !

Lots of advice! Most importantly - as others have said, if your quads are burning, you are skiing with your weight too far back on your skis. It’s tiring and it sacrifices control over the skis. Take it from someone who was there for years! No matter how fit you are, your quads will still burn if you ski from the backseat. If you can fix this, you can ski with zero quad fatigue all day long while having a lot more control. So it’s a really good thing to work on and figure out.

@liquidfeet and I have different approaches to solving this. Play around and see what works for you. We agree that skiers need to be able to flex their ankles. But I disagree that they must always be flexed in every moment.

Skiing is no different from any other sport in this regard, IMHO. And I can’t think of any other sport we play as humans where we keep the ankles rigidly flexed all the time. Generally, they open and close to at least some degree. I also strongly disagree that the ankle movement I advocate leads to an up-down sort of motion. When I ski my head is mostly level. But that’s getting into the weeds. Let’s just stick with the goal of getting you out of the backseat for now.

The key for me is the RELATIVE amount of flex in your ankles versus you knees versus your hips. The pictures liquidfeet posted are excellent. It’s true, for example, that the straight up and down lower leg (open ankles) can lead to backseat skiing. But not necessarily so. In moments where the ankle is more open though, the knee must ALSO be more open (unbent) and the torso more vertical. And on the flip side, no matter how much you flex your ankles, if your knees are bent even more - too much relative to the ankles - your weight will still be too far back. Does that make sense? We need to be able to flex and unflex ankle, knee and hip in a corresponding manner - like an accordion - to keep our weight forward enough to avoid that quad burn.

To keep it very simple as a start - make sure you do not have 1) knees that are too bent or 2) a torso that is too vertical. These, along with number 3) that nearly vertical shin bone, are the 3 most common backseat skiing issues I see while teaching.

Ultimately, how will you know if you are out of the backseat? Your quads won’t burn! :smile: Great feedback. I feel very little engagement of the quad muscles while skiing. I use them but they aren’t firing continuously so they don’t get tired - just like they don’t get tired while I’m walking down the street, even though I’m using them.

The other thing you can do is check to feel where your weight is mostly centered on the bottom of your feet. If you feel your weight mostly or often on your heels - that’s trouble. Over the arch of your foot? - Well, that is my personal yellow warning flag - i.e. when I sense I am starting to get too far back and should make a correction (though lots of skiers and instructors advocate balancing there). I go for weight over the balls of my feet - again, like most other sports involving forward movement. The human body is most agile and best at balancing from that spot. This is not to be confused with lifting your heels up. Your whole foot should be firmly planted on the sole of the boot from heel to toe. But you feel your weight mostly pressing down through the balls of the feet. Become sensitive to the bottom of your feet!

Have fun trying this stuff! And there’s that video Ursula posted awhile back. @marzNC alwsys seems to be able to find it! :smile: It has some great visuals.

Hope that helps! :smile:
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
Oh WOW. Ursula's favored images all show the ankles staying closed. They move somewhat, but never open up to leave shins vertical relative to the skis. I'm for that.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
Below I've copied and pasted a large chunk of that post by Ursula relevant to quad burn. I agree with everything she says, but I might not dwell so much on the up-down movement, although it happens. My focus is more on the ankles, not the accordion movement of the body up and down. Either way of looking at it, the ankles never open up to 90 degrees with the skis. I especially like the googlie eyes.


"Now to your questions. I will start with the second topic first: equal flexion of joints. Here is a picture that demonstrates it.

Everytime you flex your knee, your ankle and your hip should respond accordingly. Or, everytime you flex your ankle, your knee and hip should flex..... etc.
Out of my experience, most of the skiers are somewhat locked into their ankles, (either by too stiff of a boot, or they never learned how to flex a boot.) So, the ankle stays locked, now we are supposed to move up, down, forward, aft, whatever...... if the ankle does not move, what is left? Knees and hips. Anytime the knee bends withoud the ankle moving the shinbone forward, where will the hip end up? Yep! behind the heels. Now it does not matter how much you flex (break) in the hip socket, the weight will be on the heels (or even behind)
matching angles.jpg
The following picture has a few not so effiecient options.

no matching angles.jpg

In all five stances, the ankle never moved.
A: tall stance, ankles, knees and hips evenly flexed
B: knee and hips flexed,
C: knee and hips flexed a little more.
D: knee flexed, but hip did not actively flex, the torso is still in the same angle as in A. There is a little more angle in the hip socket, because the femur (thigh) dropped more.
E: knee is flexed the same as in B, but hip (just as in D) did not participate in the movement, so the angle of the torso has not changed. (Same as in A)

The quad burn will be the worst in E , then D. C and B wont be as bad, because at least by the infamous "breaking" at the waist" some of the body weight came forward.
If we want to ski all day long without that burning sensation in the quads, we should work on the upper picture and start moving from all joints! INCLUDING the ankle!"
 
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#18
Hmm, have to look around again.

Did have a note about this post from 2014 by Ursula with flex diagrams.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/i...for-us-snow-deprived.18334/page-2#post-269431
Thanks! Forgot this thread. The stick figures in that one post from Ursula give an awesome visual of what I was trying to describe.

And just to clarify- the nearly vertical shin bone that @liquidfeet describes IS a potential problem that is rightly pointed out. I just don’t see that as the issue in and of itself. IMO, it’s only an actual problem when the skier does not make corresponding changes to the flex in their other joints. Then it can indeed result in backseat skiing.

Also - don’t listen to your friends who are telling you to lean back! Lol! We really don’t want to do that in skiing - even in powder - and definitely not in steep or difficult terrain!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
Skisailor and I are more in agreement than we think, methinks.

Ursula mentions "equal angles" in that post. PSIA makes a big deal of this.
Given the difficulty of avoiding having our "home base" stance on skis be the same standing stance we use in everyday dryland life, I tend to focus just on the ankles...

That's the hardest part to change and embed for skiing. In my experience. Says this also-used-to-be-a-backseat-skier. It was getting the ankles to always be closed that brought the biggest breakthrough to my personal skiing.

I think most instructors teach from personal breakthroughs. It's what makes us different.
 
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#20
I think Ursula recognizes that there is always some small degree of ankle flex while skiing. Afterall, the ski boots are designed with a forward lean. But she advocates a significant degree of range of motion of the ankle - from nearly vertical shin bone to a significant forward leaning angle when we mash the cuff forward.

Her figures show that changing ankle flex in the top figures. The lack of ankle motion in the bottom figures is what leads to the problems she describes.

Maybe we should define what is meant by “closed”. I consider that nearly vertical shinbone (ski boot requires at least a bit of flex) as open.
 

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