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Now my front leg hurts! Don't understand weighting...

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
In Feb I was having severe thigh pain in rear leg, standard too much rear foot steering, etc.
Had lesson, told to keep weight on or over front leg, lean towards front of board, drop front hand/shoulder, etc.
So now front leg's quads are constantly engaged and tiring! This seems wrong, but is it?
I can turn and tip the board edge to edge using feet in a centred stance and no pains; can kind of carve in a controlled manner like that quite happily for ages, tho' as soon as fear rears its head, especially heelside turns, also with speed or terrain, I habit towards rear leg engagement again.
I really want to ride with weight centred as there's no unequal strain on either thigh muscle, but am getting or reading conflicting advice on technique here. So is it weight (or lean or pressure?) forward and burn out the front thigh (and ride switch a lot to even it out!), or centre weight? Can't seem to find a halfway house.
Piste rider only, +/-9 bindings, minimum width stance for board but told it's good. Idiot stage, about to give up if it doesn't stop hurting Sad - and that's without the usual cartwheels and edge catch slams...
Cheers.
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@Grizzler, For a clear explanation of what you should be doing get hold of a copy of Go Snowboard by Neil Mcnab. Might have to be second hand.

My take is that your stance should be centered but the pressure that you apply to the front foot will vary throughout the turn. It is not one thing or the other. Note that I said pressure not weight. Read Go Snowboard and all will be revealed.
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What he said - centred for piste and powder.

Just riding centred will work, and you'll find the pressure shift comes naturally with time.

It may be that your instructor was emphasizing "forward" to counter your "back" habit. Most people could use getting forward most of the time, but if your front leg hurts, that's too much. You want them both to hurt the same (and not be riding on one in the morning and the other in the afternoon)!

I don't think weighting the back leg is "too much foot steering" in that sense, it's just what many people resort to for whatever reason. If you were foot steering you'd be applying pressure through both feet and would not have this issue.

"When fear rears it's head" sounds like you mean "when you're going pretty fast and want to dump speed". If so... well you can dump speed by sliding a bit in a carved turn without the back leg kick. You have to let the whole edge of the board slide a little in the turn, not just the back bit. I think that works by keeping your weight where it should be (in the centre), but reducing the angle of the edge in the turn, so it disengages. Maybe practice the "carve in a controlled manner" turns at a *slower* speed, working on speed control? It helps if the snow is "in condition", although for learning anything soft enough to edge in should be fine.

Which makes me wonder... what board are you riding and at what rider weight? If the board was too soft you may find it hard to control the edge at speed, for example.

Some video may help you work it out yourself, or post it here.
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Neat little trick a mate of mine learned about centring your weight - while you're riding, try to rotate your feet outwards. It forces your knees to line up with your feet and if you're off centre with your weight, it emphasises the sensation and you can correct it easily. Try it every few turns until you're more confident that your mass is staying centred but it's a useful thing to do anytime.
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@cad99uk, will look into that, thanks. I find it so much easier to learn from reading. And pressure makes much more sense to me than actual lean or physical shifting of body mass.

@Richard_Sideways, Yep, worked that one out already. Coming from a 2-plank background and with knees that hurt (muscles) if over-strained, I'm quite aware of what little differences in feet/knees can do. Find pushing the front knee out into a heelside turn helps too.

@philwig, fear = still learning, hurts too much when I fall off (yes soft snow is great, isn't it!) and am getting to the stage where I am starting to run fast when making much more direct and longer carving-type turns, but still learning to get full turn shape control without scrubbing off speed in an emergency "Oh Sheeeeet!" manner prior to making a turn (i.e. I am a girlie wuss Laughing ).
I don't think that it's board or weight or edge control. I rode the same board (and boots and bindings) last year in Mayrhofen and Scotland without any pain or problems at all, and other boards before that with no problems. It's just this last trip where it went wrong. I had more confidence and was going faster and more directly downhill/diagonal long linked turns - so think that I was just skidding/throwing out the anchor on heelside turns (sorry, there must be a proper snowboarding term for this, but I don't know it).



Anyways, yes, I think that maybe the instructor was just over-emphasising it; always struggle with non-native English-speaking instructors, no matter how fluent they seem. And I'm going out to Austria again in a week with board so hopefully we'll get to play for a few days and I'll suss it out a bit more. Boarding seems to be a lot of instinctive moves for me (I guess that my balance and body positioning sense is pretty good from various other past and present activities) and it's about finding that personal way of doing what you're 'meant' to without getting into bad habits.

Glad that I can now ride centred with your approval Very Happy
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Grizzler wrote:
Glad that I can now ride centred with your approval Very Happy


The frequent cross thread talk about getting your weight 'over the front' is mostly due, I guess, to the more experienced 'boarders on here commenting on what the see most beginners doing wrong.

Yes, you should have a fairly centred stance, with a slight frontal bias in most circumstances, but actual riding means your centre of gravity must move around.

I've ridden with a fair few experienced 'tourist' riders, and some will never get it ......

And, sorry, It's probably me but I just don't get the 'McNab' thing ....... I've a copy somewhere so for a couple of pints and the ride PM me if you want it.
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@BCjohnny, I think that the McNab thing is a good starting point especially for people who have been given contradictory instruction. I would be interested to know in what way you 'don't get it'.
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BCjohnny wrote:
Grizzler wrote:
Glad that I can now ride centred with your approval Very Happy


The frequent cross thread talk about getting your weight 'over the front' is mostly due, I guess, to the more experienced 'boarders on here commenting on what the see most beginners doing wrong.



It's hard to get beginners to commit to their front foot so you tell them at least 70:30 with the hope you'll get near 50:50. All McNab does is emphasise how you then heel and toe your front foot for precise steering and control.

Anything to avoid the dreaded back foot kick around.
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It must also be said that "get your weight on the front foot" is good advice for a beginner, but too many people hold on to it for too long.

Many intermediates have big issues with being stuck on the front foot and unable to get their weight back. Being able to power-up the back foot early in the turn to drive the board is what separates the truly expert riders from the merely decent.
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I'm a relative beginner as well, and the idea that helped me progress was starting the turn with weight/(pressure?) forward, then centered the middle of the turn, and rearward towards the end of the turn. Yet to have any pain..apart from the slams of course! Very Happy
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stevomcd wrote:
Many intermediates have big issues with being stuck on the front foot and unable to get their weight back. Being able to power-up the back foot early in the turn to drive the board is what separates the truly expert riders from the merely decent.


Last season I was trying to really up the pace in switch. It is so hard to drive with my back foot in switch!!
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stevomcd wrote:

Being able to power-up the back foot early in the turn to drive the board is what separates the truly expert riders from the merely decent.


Can you explain/expand this, please? My Instructress was still having a go at me for not keeping weight well forward (to keep up speed apparently) on traversing after a turn.
What kind of "drive", and when, are you talking about?
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Grizzler wrote:
stevomcd wrote:

Being able to power-up the back foot early in the turn to drive the board is what separates the truly expert riders from the merely decent.


Can you explain/expand this, please? My Instructress was still having a go at me for not keeping weight well forward (to keep up speed apparently) on traversing after a turn.
What kind of "drive", and when, are you talking about?


Think about skiing and what happens when you sit back on your tails - you generally accelerate but your control suffers. So front for steering, back for power.

If your instructor is still wanting you on the front foot it suggests to me that she is still working on precise steering and control and wanting you to finish out turns. The power can come later, all Stevo is saying I think is that weighting isn't a static thing and real experts will blend front and back foot to drive the board rather than turning a board that is kinda doing its own thing speed wise.
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Grizzler, how much riding experience do you have? Asking people to keep their weight forwards on traversing is something that I'd generally teach in the early stages; it helps to keep the edge engaged and hence the speed high. If you're still having difficulty with that, I wonder if you're ready to move onto weight shift yet?

Going back, I'm concerned about the fact that you ride with your bindings as narrow as they'll go too. Do you have a picture?
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@Dave of the Marmottes, yes, "blending" makes sense to me from a number of activities/disciplines were weight shifting is integral to control, and it seems to come reasonably naturally to me. It's when I see it written down or advised (albeit usual, in instructing terms, from someone who is not a natural English speaker - no offence intended, but I do struggle often with foreign instructors in grasping the nuances of what they're trying to convey across to me) that it doesn't always make sense.
The lesson which I was having about front weighting was in response to my back leg tiring (and wrecking) too easily, in turn the standard habit of using the back leg as an anchor (due to fear, in my case). Hence my confusion as to "drive" with back foot when I've using it too much to scrub off speed and give rear control. Turns, control, edging, basic carving, up/down weighting etc were said per se to be good: she was getting me to 'hang' forward (hence OP title of my front leg hurting too much) to drive everything with front foot to get over this back 'skidding' habit (on heelside tuns) and generally to get more speed etc (whcih I'm not at all sure that I want).

@jiagedaping, re bindings - any closer and I'd be doing the splits! I'd prefer them narrower still, and couple of instructors and Mr G (experienced-ish boarder) have said that they're OK to about right where they are but agreed that they could go narrower for ease - certainly don't take wider). No, don't have pics. This is on a DC (men's) board, correct length for me and my height and weight. My old Burton (women'd board) did go narrower and I rode them on not the narrowest settings; ditto boards that I've hired. So just an annoyance of my current board, I think.
Re experience - not huge! Very much a piste Intermediate, getting there quite well and quickly I'm told, but still a baby boarder. Somewhere around 2-3 weeks (in day terms) over 3 years?
The instructress was indeed trying to get me to go faster (or explain to me how I could go faster), when in fact I did not want to go faster. Fear (of catching edge and hurting myself - which seems to happen much more often than I'd like) is my main problem; balance, general instincts and other skills are reasonably there.
Whether I'm "ready" to "move on" to weight shifting, I don't know. If it's an integral technique of riding a board well then I want to understand and practice and be able to do it so that I can board better! TBH I find it difficult, compared to skiing, to find many resources which really explain the technical mechanics (for want of better words) of boarding, and the few boarders whom I know all can't explain what they do, just that it works (probably mostly self taught after the initial stages). I find that I learn a lot for good YT vids (ski-wise at least) and sometimes instructors, but haven't found many of the latter (board or ski) wo make a lot of sense to me, at least in the immediate timeframe.

Probably just a lot more practice is required: but as my local snowdome has not been terribly conducive to my confidence on a board this last year, I've only had a few dyas on the real stuff: and sadly my last planned many-day boarding trip was curtailed by an idiot skier busting my knees, so it's going to be a while before I get to practice again for real anyway, though whether I end up finding it easier to board or ski (or both) remains to be seem. Confused
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Ok, it's a shame that we can't get pics or vids because it's tricky to look at things from just words.

Regarding the board - "any closer and you'd be doing the splits" - doesn't make any sense to me. Don't you mean wider? Anyway, I can't comment on that without pics really, but if you're comfortable then that's fine. Just bear in mind that stance width is important, it makes a difference to many things and for someone to go as narrow as the board will let them is unusual. Not necessarily wrong, but it raised an eyebrow.

Moving onto weight shift and driving the board through the turn - yes it's an essential technique to good snowboarding, but it doesn't sound to me like you're ready. To give you an idea, it's something that's introduced at BASI L2, and those guys certainly aren't worrying about edge catches or going too fast on mellow pistes. It would be expected to be mastered at BASI L3, and those guys are spinning off the red kickers in the park and getting ready to do FIS boardercross races for points. Don't worry that you're not there yet!

It sounds like you're a low intermediate at the moment. Again, without seeing you ride, I think that something appropriate for you would be to ride centered, with a slight forward movement when initiating the turn (which is really to make sure you're not backwards weighted!). So do your traverses with the weight 50/50 on each foot, and when you're ready to make your next turn, do the forward touch like you've been told. Once you've done that and you're into the turn, go back to 50/50 - it should be relaxed.

Have you been told anything about varying your height throughout the turn? That's definitely something I'd be looking at before varying weight.

Lastly, if your instructor is wanting you to stop rear foot skidding by being on the front foot then yes... but bear in mind that if you go through the whole turn with your weight on the front foot, you'll have no grip on the rear and it'll skid round anyway! Being 50/50 will sort that out.

Once again, get some pics and vids up on here and I'm sure that the experts (we've got an ISTD now!) will put you right.
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Totally agree with @jiagedaping (do we know each other?), if you only have 2-3 weeks experience, then you don't need to even think about driving the back of the board yet.

You should be doing most of your riding completely centred, which at your stage will probably feel like you're ludicrously far forward, so thinking about it as being forward is not a bad thing. You should be ready to think about making a small forward movement to start the turn.

As @jiagedaping says, you can start to work the board a little by varying your height through the turn. Stand tall at the edge-change/cross-over and squat low gradually as you move through the turn. You should feel equal pressure in both feet as you squat down. As you progress, you can add some rearwards movement to this.

Again though, this is an intermediate technique - experts should be aiming to stay at a constant height, working the board dynamically by moving it underneath them and extending/retracting the legs (popping up at the edge change would get you failed on a BASI3!). This is better technique (as it will give more constant grip) but it's harder to execute.
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@jiagedaping, @stevomcd, Really useful input. Thanks.
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@jiagedaping, - "any closer and you'd be doing the splits" - doesn't make any sense to me. Don't you mean wider? -

Yep. Ooops. Mea Culpa rolling eyes
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@jiagedaping, @stevomcd, Thanks. What you've advised makes perfect sense for where I am, and resonates with what I think I've been advised to do by instructors and on this forum and by Mr G - and by how it feels when I ride comfortably.
Regarding "varying height" - that's what I meant by unweigting. Basically the same as skiing (old school or otherwise): stand just before turn, drive/bend/lower through turn and afterwards (without that at all being a technical description, just words). I also do, when feeling confident, sometimes do the constant-ish height thing and move the board more by leg extension/retraction... Sometimes. Again, really all just practice needed. Now, where's that lovely soft snow stuff... Sigh.
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OK, now it becomes clearer still - Grizzler, you're a lady? With Mr G being your husband? And you're riding a man's board at it's narrowest stance, because any wider feels horrible?

Right - so as your stance narrows, your pedals (feet twisting the board) become less effective, as they're closer together and twist less edge. You've also got your feet closer together, so your balance is less because your centre of gravity is higher. You're also using your less effective pedals on a man's board, which even if it's the right size, is likely to be stiffer than a woman's equivalent.

Again, without seeing pics or vids it's hard to be definitive, but I get the feeling that if you came by one of my lessons the first thing that we'd do is sort your equipment out. It sounds all wrong.

As to the instructors that you've been having so far... the quality of instruction in many Euro ski schools is... variable? Snowboarding simply takes second place to skiing. You can't tar everyone with the same brush of course; I got some excellent training off an Austrian snowboard full cert this season. But it might be worth seeking out a snowboard instructor rather than a snowsports instructor next time you go out.
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Oh stevomcd, we've never met, no, but I bet we have a few people in common.
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@jiagedaping, no doubt!

BASI Snowboard world is incestuous as hell...
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@jiagedaping, not sure what you're getting at re board as my stance width is the same as on my woman's board (which is a lot stiffer than my DC, same length and just a tad narrower waist, though directional). The current one's actually been the best and easiest board which I've ever ridden (bought it because I hired one first and my boarding skills increased markedly). Understand what you say about effects of stance width, but can't see how my natural stance width would change things in my case as I keep it the same no matter what board I ride. It's just that on my current main board I can't take it any more narrow (which I don't want to, so I'm told: though being used to a ski stance it's tempting!).
Might play around in due course with stance set up ( and have done so on hire and my first, woman's board - so have some idea what I do like and how I seem to board most easily and comfortably), but so far others have been happy with it - and my last Instructress (who I specifically did ask about both width and binding set up) was the coach to a National youth snowboard team and I think part of senior freestyle team ( good freestyler, anyway) so I think probably knew what she was talking about.
I learnt initially with UK snowboard- specific instructor, presumably BASI, at indoor dome, Mr G ditto at Sheffield dry slope (that dates it a bit) then Scotland. Hope that they knew what they were talking about. My Instructor doesn't ski, I think; is a good boarder to the extent that I've watched him.
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As a very broad guide, your stance width should be about the same as the length of your lower leg - i.e. the height from the floor to your kneecap. If you're substantially outside of that, might be worth thinking about changing it. But that's just the middle of a range of, say, 3" or so that could work for you.

You mentioned earlier that your stance is 9, -9. Conventional wisdom would suggest that's a bit turned-in. The suggestion is that the angle between your feet should be between 20° and 30°. Again, no firm rules. Try turning either your front foot or both feet out a bit, but if you don't like it, feel free to turn it back.
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What I'm getting at, is that being on the extreme end (narrowest or widest) of the stance options, with 9-9 angles and on a man's board doesn't sound right to me. Impossible to be sure without actually seeing you, but it sounds like it's worth another look. If your stance isn't good, it's going to make it harder to control the board, and could be part of why you're catching edges.

However, there's no hard and fast rules here, so maybe you do have the right stance for you. If you've got a national freestyle coach working with you, things should be good (and why are you looking for advice off the internet?!). But from everything you've posted, your equipment (not just stance!) strikes me as something worth checking.

Now you've described your instructors a little better they sound fine. Make sure you get the same quality when you go abroad Very Happy
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http://youtube.com/v/MDuHvELIJnE

@Grizzler you might want to watch some of this guys videos, or download the App 'Snowboarding Tips' with Mathiew Bozetto and watch the step by step videos on how to shift balance in turns, weighting and unweighting, etc. I started boarding in 2012 having never been on snow before at the age of 46. Ok, I have been surfing for a long time, however its quite different. I board with my feet in the directional stance now having started in in the 'duck stance' and since I changed my control is far better.
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@Tankerdriver, a snowboard is not a slackline!

Forward stance is, in any case, a non-starter for me as I ride way too much switch and freestyle (jeez, the me of a few years ago would be shocked to hear that!).

I rode forward stance for 10 years, but I am a full duck convert - I genuinely now believe that most everyday riding (carving, steeps, bumps, powder) is better in a duck stance, not just freestyle.
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Thanks guys.
I'm not working with a national coach (I wish snowHead ), it was just who a 1-off instructor was, and that was abroad. I will be quite picky about them in future, tho'.
I have already tried various stance angles (Mr G rolls eyes, sighs and yet again gets the tools out several times a day, sometimes) - I am someone who tries and messes until it feels right. Riding wider than 9 is really not natural at all for my hips or knees, 6 has been used but found 9 easier.
Just dragged board bag out from under the bed and very roughly, without unpacking everything, middle of DC's binding baseplates at mid waist (I think) is 19" ( can't get at the woman's Burton). Floor (in socks) to mid kneecap 18"... Rough hip joint to hip joint middle estimated 12", outer hip to hip 16", outer shoulder to shoulder 16". Doesn't sound a million miles out.
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@Tankerdriver, Interesting video but I have to agree with Stevomcd. I learnt to carve using a forward stance but always had a bit of tension in the rear knee, a 21/-9 duck is a lot more comfortable and more stable as I can get lower. It's also much better off piste and I'd say my carving hasn't suffered at all.
Btw, I also started in 2012 aged 53.
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So I agree with @jiagedaping in that you ride centered but that you initiate your turn by shifting your weight towards your front leg, and then while you're making your turn you go back to 50/50. Shifting your weight to your front leg is really important because it allows you to turn more easily as you kind of create a point your board can turn around, which makes the back of your board turn more easily because there's no weight on it. Turning while doing a nosepress is easy, turning while doing a tailpress is really hard and gets you turns with a huge radius - hope this helps to clarify!

And then "releasing" your weight by extending your weight upwards quickly while initiating your turn can help you turn even easier when you are at a little bit of speed or steeper slopes (defo needing this at red slopes) and then halfway in your turn getting back down and building pressure on the edge of the board (and while you do that you go back to 50/50). And you wanna do the releasing thing explosively, feels weird at first but once you get it down and you build up the pressure on your edge correctly you'll feel like you're exploding into your turn and you can ride really steep slopes.

About the stance: I love the duck stance, but as 15-15 actually isn't that good for your joints when you're riding whole seasons, I've been looking at doing something else for a while now. Rode 15-12 yesterday and actually liked it! Was also still fine to ride switch I think, I didn't really noticed that it influenced my switch riding. Forward stances are more suitable for race boards I think, on a normal snowboard you don't need a forward stance at all and it might even be a burden to your technique (I've noticed that kids in my groups that accidentally had a forward stance had an automatic tendency to stand on their back leg).
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