Most skiers ride from turn to turn with an a-frame shape in the legs. This is when the feet are wider apart than the knees. This can happen by either the knees dropping in or the feet splitting out or both. This makes the shape in the legs non symmetrical and the skis usually at different angles between the turns. This can cause inconsistency between turns due to the skis being tilted at different angles. This a-frame in the legs will put stress on the knee joints and tension in the muscles throughout the body. An a-frame is one of the biggest factors behind skiers having problems in powder and variable terrains. A-Frame’s are usually more predominant on one direction. The reasons A-frame’s are so common are:
a. Ski Boot set up (foot beds and canting)
b. No awareness of lateral control muscles
c. Ski technique issues such as pressure, edge and steering control
d. Pelvic instability or position
a. Professional ski boot fitting with boot/leg alignment check
b. Skier symmetry test
To improve your lateral control you need to activate your inner thigh (adductor muscle group). It’s a muscle group that doesn’t get used heavily in sport and everyday life so a specific training routine is needed to first raise awareness to the muscles and then develop your strength and skill at using them.
The skier symmetry test will easily raise your awareness and develop strength and you can do it in the comfort of your own home or in an area with a polished surface. Use a t-shirt or cloth and lay it on the floor beneath you. Then with a foot either side, pull your feet towards each other. The goal is to pull your feet towards each other without your knees dropping at the slowest possible speed. If done properly you should be recruiting the gluteus maximus to assist with the strengthening of your adducturs. You should be able to feel your gluteus maximus firing, by gently prodding into the tissue of your behind.
Try to pull in about 10 times in a set and repeat that about 4 times. If you trained with this exercise 3 to 4 times a week you would certainly switch on control laterally in your stance when skiing and help avoid the legs dropping in at the knees or splitting away at the feet into the dreaded A-Frame. You would end up skiing with a P-Frame (power frame) and conquering all the terrains you dreamed about skiing with performance and control in your legs.
c. Professional ski coaching from a teacher with good understanding of technique and the English language The result is a mechanically sound power frame stance rather than an a-frame stance. Steering from turn to turn will feel smoother and take a lot less energy for a higher level of performance. This power frame stance will reduce the risk of knee injury and also leave you feeling less fatigued.
d. Refer to a Sports Therapist or Myofascial Release practitioner for pelvis balance work. Normally within 1-3 sessions your practitioner should be able to achieve the balance.
Click here to watch the video explanation of skier symmetry pattern.