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How relaxed when skiing. Especially steep runs.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
How relaxed should you be when skiing. I tend to stiffen up. Is it better to be ultra relaxed or a little stiff. Advice appreciated.
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Strong but not stiff. If you stiffen up too much you can easily lose the movements you need to make to have the level of control you are looking for. You want plenty of "muscle tension" so you are strong, but not to become rigid.
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Depends on your technique n conditions underfoot.

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And if worried, stop for a vin chaud and pipe some music into your helmet......
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Stiff = nervous + bad technique.
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hipflask of yager tea
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You want to be like suspension on a car or bike really, strong but able and ready to absorb bumps or react to changes in condition. If you are stiff it will take you longer to react properly
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To add to that, it's very common for less experienced skiers to get stiff when they hit challenging terrain, definitely a mental thing, kind of bracing against a crash, but ironically makes you more likely to crash
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@Bennisboy,

Yup - i used to wipe out when learning to snowboard & stiffening up when pushed outof my comfort zone
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Relaxed but alert. If you can't sing a song while skiing you're probably too uptight.

Plus it freaks people out if they hear Livin' On a Prayer murdered comprhensively as you nip past on the edge of the piste.
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I learned from @rob@rar that to grip one's poles tightly helps to engage the core. (It's all in the mind...wink )
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As an instructor once said to me, "It's supposed to look effortless. But that doesn't mean you don't have to put any effort in!" Embarassed

(@Hurtle, no, I think it's all in the core wink )
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@Hurtle, now I'm testing the ability of clenched fists to inhibit unwanted back tension whilst sitting at the breakfast table. There might be something in this - something to remember when feeling challenged on the snow.
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Tense makes you tired
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Relaxed is all well and good but when on steeper stuff it pays to keep your sphincters tight
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Quote:

As an instructor once said to me, "It's supposed to look effortless. But that doesn't mean you don't have to put any effort in!"

Laughing
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motyl wrote:
@Hurtle, now I'm testing the ability of clenched fists to inhibit unwanted back tension whilst sitting at the breakfast table. There might be something in this - something to remember when feeling challenged on the snow.


Sounds a bit counter-intuitive to me. A way to release tension in the shoulders is to wiggle your fingers. I can't see why increasing tension in one part of the body will release it elsewhere - the opposite makes more sense.
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@Penry, I was seeing how easy it was to achieve the sort of back tension that interfered with my breathing after I had first clenched my fists. Yes it's a bit subjective and subtle but for me it's definitely worth a punt on the slope.

I can see that it could work, because engaging one set of muscles doesn't automatically engage others. Whether that would disengage others remains to be seen - maybe it depends on where the tension is - I'll come back to you on that after my next black Toofy Grin
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The more relaxed I am the better I ski - smoother adsorption, better adaptation, flow. If I feel tense then my suspension doesn't work as well and my upper body gets less quiet. I imagine it is possible to be too relaxed but its not a problem I have come across (other than utterly switching off on a blue run and catching an edge but that is mental focus not a lack of muscular tension)
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The grippy fisty thing makes me more aware of my hands and promotes a good solid pole plant. Useful on steeps when your brain shuts down.
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You need to balance the forces that are generated when you ski with the level of physical input you are making to your skiing.

I think "relaxed" is possibly a confusing word, at least for me it's a state of mind not a state of body. If, for example, you are not exerting any strength in your core muscles when you are skiing bumps every single hit you take is going to collapse you forwards at the waist, making it much more difficult for you to control your speed and your line in the bumps. On the other hand, if you engage all your core strength when you are cruising down an empty blue piste at the end of the day you are probably over doing it.

There are going to be times when you need to be strong: high speeds, snow which throws you around, bumps, etc. In those circumstances the last thing you want to be is 'Mr Floppy'. But equally, you don't want increased physical input to mean you become rigid, unable to make the movements you need to make, unable to use your natural suspension to absorb the changes in snow and terrain. So you need to be strong but not stiff. You need an appropriate amount of muscle tension to have the level of control you want, and that needs to be in proportion to the forces you are trying to manage.

@Penry, the aspect that @Hurtle referred to is a mental & physical trigger that I use if I'm about to ski a challenging pitch. I know I need to be strong, I know I need to raise my game, and to help me achieve that I squeeze my ski poles a little bit tighter before I drop in. It triggers and reminds me that I need to be a bit stronger. Other people might use visualisation, others might just jump in and see what happens. Think of it as a psychological tactic rather than anything else.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Thu 29-11-18 12:49; edited 2 times in total
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Mosha Marc wrote:
The grippy fisty thing makes me more aware of my hands and promotes a good solid pole plant. Useful on steeps when your brain shuts down.
Exactly right.
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I'm not over-analysing things again am I? rolling eyes (Still curious as to any actual physical consequences though it's hard to experiment away from the mountain)
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motyl wrote:
I'm not over-analysing things again am I? rolling eyes (Still curious as to any actual physical consequences though it's hard to experiment away from the mountain)
Yes wink
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@rob@rar, Toofy Grin
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@rob@rar, That makes sense.

Generally for any sport, tension is going to prevent you from executing to the best of your ability. Nadal's irritating tics between each point serve a purpose: Shakes out tension, focuses the mind, controls breathing, prevents rushing, normalises the situation, acts as a mental trigger to prepare to execute, etc. And I don't think anyone would accuse him of being floppy when he whips that forehand. When skiing, squeezing then relaxing the grip on your pole would achieve the same.

Madeye-Smiley
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Penry wrote:
And I don't think anyone would accuse him of being floppy when he whips that forehand.
Indeed not, because he's strong, probably with plenty of muscle tension in his core and his racquet arm. Obviously he isn't stiff, because the speed and control of his movements are world class. But he probably is mentally relaxed, to enable him to focus acutely on the task in hand. Poetry in motion, but as you say, most definitely not Mr Floppy.
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Quote:

@Penry, the aspect that @Hurtle referred to is a mental & physical trigger that I use if I'm about to ski a challenging pitch. I know I need to be strong, I know I need to raise my game, and to help me achieve that I squeeze my ski poles a little bit tighter before I drop in. It triggers and reminds me that I need to be a bit stronger. Other people might use visualisation, others might just jump in and see what happens. Think of it as a psychological tactic rather than anything else.


I tend to take a slight more aggressive stance - get a bit lower, flex a bit more. I think it means I have more of a "coiled spring" to quickly unwind if I need to get the skis through the fall line fast but I suspect a lot of it is mental - just really "getting on the front foot".

When I think about being relaxed it is all about my legs being ready to absorb/flex rather than being stiff. Be frightened or stressed really tends to block that movement. I think my core is pretty much always engaged - I try to ski with a lot of upper body / lower body separation and you can't really do that with a lazy core.
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jedster wrote:
When I think about being relaxed it is all about my legs being ready to absorb/flex rather than being stiff.
I think there are some semantic differences more than anything else in this thread. When I think of the word "relaxed" in terms of what my body is doing I think of the opposite of being strong and ready for action, sort of "enjoying a hot bath, relax your muscles" type of thing. When I use the phrase "muscle tension" I don't think of being stiff and unyielding, but strong and ready to absorb or extend with power.
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I try and think of it as relaxed aggression. That is a bit of an oxymoron I know, but that is the mindset I try and use when skiing something steep and difficult.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I would use the word "engaged" .. Relaxed gives a view of possible disassociation and unready which isnt good in a dynamic situation. Associate and focus. Be aware of your ability and have confidence in it. Fear and anxiety will cause you to tense .. then you can address the continual physical exertion changes by being engaged and poised.
Even if you use the game where you hit the frogs that pop up as an example ... you wont adjust quick enough to hit them if youre tense, tense makes all movement slow, and you wont hit them if you dont react with enough force. And if you over think it you will become frustrated and just throw the hammer !
You have to enjoy it . So as exerting yourself, sing ... it works ! Happy


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 29-11-18 23:03; edited 1 time in total
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I'm always confused by uses of the word "relaxed" in sports. Mostly what people mean is that you need to be flexible, not stiff.

So yeah, being stiff is a bad idea. I see a lot of snowboarders who're not relaxed in powder - typically they stiffen their front leg for defence, and sit over their (burning) back leg so they can pivot that stiff front leg like a sort of backwards rudder. It sort of works, but they need to relax.

I find myself sometimes tensing up when driving fast, gripping the wheel too hard and having stiff arms. It's a bad thing, mostly.
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Mosha Marc wrote:
The grippy fisty thing makes me more aware of my hands and promotes a good solid pole plant. Useful on steeps when your brain shuts down.

Wozza would be proud Cool
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@spyderjon, Laughing Laughing Laughing
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I like to think of it a bit like a dancer's frame - core and shoulders/upper arms engaged but not stiff, creating something reasonably stable for the legs to move against. Maybe I've been watching too much Strictly, but I do dance, and it seems to work.
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Quote:


I'm always confused by uses of the word "relaxed" in sports. Mostly what people mean is that you need to be flexible, not stiff.

So yeah, being stiff is a bad idea. I see a lot of snowboarders who're not relaxed in powder - typically they stiffen their front leg for defence, and sit over their (burning) back leg so they can pivot that stiff front leg like a sort of backwards rudder. It sort of works, but they need to relax.


That's what I was getting at - for me "stiff" implies "tense", the opposite of which is "relaxed" or supple. People mentioned tennis before where "relaxed" would suggest to me a lovely, long flowing stroke and "tense" or "stiff" would imply short, jabbing, blocked motion.

Surely we all have a sense that tense is the opposite of relaxed and isn't ideal. I'm typing at the moment - ideally I'd be sitting with a stable but relaxed posture, core gently engaged but relaxed through shoulders and neck. Definitely don't want to be tense.
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jedster wrote:
Surely we all have a sense that tense is the opposite of relaxed ...
Would you say that "muscle tension" = "tense"?
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It's the same for all sports, you want to be focused, precise in your movements but no tension in the muscles so i agree "relaxed" is not quite the right word.

Former coach used to get us to put our tongue between our teeth to avoid tensing up. Dunno if I'd try it try it skiing/snowboarding though - one unexpected bump and you could be missing half a tongue lol.
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Albasnow wrote:
Former coach used to get us to put our tongue between our teeth to avoid tensing up.
Chess coach?
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Quote:

jedster wrote:
Surely we all have a sense that tense is the opposite of relaxed ...
Would you say that "muscle tension" = "tense"?




Probably just semantics but I think if you say to someone "you look tense" you are really suggesting that some of there muscles are INAPPROPRIATELY over-tensed.

The best athletes generally look relaxed when they are performing at their best but I guess that means their muscles are only tense WHERE AND TO THE EXTENT that they need to be.

The other side of this is saying that you need muscle tension is just a statement of the complete obvious isn't it? You'd be in a heap on the floor if you didn't tense any muscles.
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