Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Myth #6

Myth #6 - “Working out can't help me ski/snowboard better?”

While working out is NOT necessary to be a great skier/rider...it most certainly can't hurt! One of my coaches once said that "We will NEVER lose a game due to conditioning...or better yet, a lack of conditioning!" The same hold true for our passion for the slopes. If a lack of conditioning is limiting your abilities on the slopes, then your potential is being restricted!

Let's face it, the demands of the mountain are physically challenging (remember the soreness the first few times you head out every season?). We came up with a list of 6 Physical Requirements for a Skier/Rider (http://snotrainer.blogspot.com/2008/11/skisnowboard-training-and-myths-just.html) that your body needs to do in order to make your way around the mountain. Now, the better one can perform these requirements, the better one can perform ALL TASKS on the slopes.

Since there is a lot of technique that goes into our snow sport of choice, think about IF your technique is suffering DUE TO a lack of physical conditioning. Training the 6 Physical Requirements will allow your body to accept the technique your are trying to learn - whether it is self taught or through professional instruction.

What if you are already a high level skier/rider....can conditioning benefit you? Even if you are proficient with your technique and you can handle whatever the mountain throws in front of you....you too may enhance your movement machinery. Even finely tuned race cars get tuned over and over again, always striving for extra edge against their competitors. Think about Olympic caliber athletes, they spend countless hours in the gym and conditioning throughout the year in hopes of the standing on the podium.

Lastly, I don't know about you guys but I plan on being able to enjoy snowboarding for many years to come. By training with a purpose in mind (the winter festivities), you may hopefully reap the benefits not just on the slopes but in other areas of your life. This is due to the other "side effects" like an improved cardiovascular system, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, etc. Investing in your health and fitness can help you enjoy the mountain with family and friends for many more years. Maybe that's why Ponce de Leon never found the fountain of youth....he never went to the mountains!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

May 2009 bring LOTS of happiness and POWWWWDERRRR!

Thank you all for reading.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The 5 Stations of a Skier/Snowboarder, LAST but not least!!

Making our way up the chain, the Thoracic Spine (TS) is the last stop of the discussion. Following the alternating pattern of mobility and stability from our feet, that makes the TS an area requiring mobility.

1. Foot/Ankle - Mobile

2. Knees - Stable

3. Hips - Mobile

4. Lumbar Spine - Stable

5. Thoracic Spine - Mobile

This can be illustrated by looking at the gait cycle. When our right foot is hitting the ground in front of us, the left are is also in the forward position. The same holds true with the other side of the body which completes the cycle. Motion is a relative term, so the next logical question that someone may ask is that if the arm is swinging forward, how do we know the the TS was a contributor in getting it there?

While walking may be a simple task (relatively speaking of course), to begin to breakdown the motions that occur can get a little silly. That said, we do know that rotation is a large component of walking and ALL human motion. If rotation did not occur, we would move more like robots and less human-like (although this can be another topic of discussion). Specifically, when it comes to the TS, think about the entire ribcage rotating upon a spinal axis (imagine a large rod going through your head and spine). As we walk, our TS should rotate to each side and the arms just go along for a ride.

Tying this into the lower body. As mentioned earlier, the TS and the lower body are linked diagonally (right arm/left leg and vice versa). If functioning properly, this cycle of counter-rotation is intended to get your abdominals loaded or "on stretch" and involved in the gait cycle. If there are any deficiencies in the TS in terms of mobility, then this entire sequence may become inefficient.

Some common compensations include an exaggerated arm swing, side/side swaying (like penguin) and exaggerated hip rotation just to name a few. Interestingly enough, these compensations are all an attempt to get the abdominals involved in the task. While this attempt is successful, to a degree, it is less than optimal and cannot replace how the body was intended to function...in this case by thoracic rotation.

All the illustrations used walking as an example. While it is a "simple unit" of movement, it is not so simple if we really begin to break it down into parts. For us winter enthusiasts, this simple (or not so simple) task helps us get onto the slopes. Once we get there, the tasks only get harder!


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Myth #5 - Too old for power training!

Myth #5 - “I can’t do power training…I’m too old for that!"

First of all, we are ALL in the same boat... I have yet to meet anyone who is getting younger! All jokes aside, there is more evidence of the effects of exercise on the aging process and not only can it slow the process down, but it may even reverse them!

Once the term "power" gets attached to training or exercise, many begin to tighten up just thinking about it. While the "knee-jerk response" may be warranted, if done properly (just like any form of exercise) the effects may be simply amazing!

By definition, power adds an element of speed with a particular exercise. Speed can be added to just about any exercise, however, it must be done in a safe way without compromising the techniques of the exercise or else the risk can outweigh the benefit.

Power training may include many types of activity. While plyometric training will definitely fit the bill, your feet don't have to leave the ground in order to create the stretch reflex (although age has not stopped us from exposing some older clientele to plyo's). For example, the speed squat (as the name implies) is done as fast as possible, forcing the muscles to work rapidly concentrically and eccentrically with a very small transformational zone (where the movement changes direction). This same concept may be applied to the upper body by using an overhead press as an example. Think about pressing and lowering the weight as fast as possible which will create a stretch reflex from the top of the body down. If down with enough speed, you will begin to notice that the lower body begins to get involved to accomplish the task of "pressing the weight as fast as possible." This chain reaction which involves the entire body is a great example of how the body works as a functional unit.

In addition, as pointed out by Gary Gray, with power training, your body may respond by improving its mobility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance. There is no other type of training that will "kill many birds with one stone." Think about it...

To conclude, exercises can be tweaked in a number of ways to add speed to the equation that is safe for all ages and abilities. We all NEED power training as the complexity of everyday life (not just on the slopes) requires our bodies to perform at it's best. Think of it like this, the faster you move during your workout, the faster it will end!! ;)