One of our free mogul and powder skiing tips describes the use of ankle flexion and its role in reducing fatigue while skiing. One of our subscribers asked for more clarification and since, as the saying goes “a photo is worth a thousand words”, we wanted to share the photos and the Q & A discussion with the rest of our skiing family.
Here’s the original tip:
Avoid Fatigue When Skiing Moguls And Powder
Have you ever experienced your quads getting tired and sore when skiing moguls or powder (or even when you ski groomed runs)? When you are in bumps or powder do you bend your knees to lower your center-of-gravity in an effort to stay balanced or to feel more in control?
“Bend your knees” is a phrase often associated with skiing but bending your knees when skiing off-piste terrain does more to produce tired and aching quads than any other thing you may do.
To avoid leg fatigue when skiing in moguls or powder the proper stance is to have your legs extended with a tall stance and to absorb pressure changes by flexing your ankles, not by bending your knees. Bending your knees will result in you sitting back. Any knee bend should only be a secondary by-product of keeping your torso in balance over your feet as a result of flexing your ankles.
A tall stance (think long legs) produces less fatigue because your skeleton is holding up your body weight. If you have too much bend in your knees, without ankle flex, then you will use your quadriceps (the large muscle in front of the thigh) to support your weight. And that spells thigh burn.
While it may seem counterintuitive, to minimize fatigue and to have happy quads when skiing moguls and powder, use a tall stance with good ankle flex.
The Subscriber Asked:
“I have a real problem in understanding how we can absorb bumps by flexing the ankles. Could you give us a tip that illustrates this?”
The Answer Is:
The point of this tip is to understand that when you bend your knees you will move into the back seat (since the knee joint only bends backward). When you flex your ankles you will move forward (since the ankle joint only moves forward). The two photos below illustrate this point.
If you flex your ankles into the front of the boot cuff and tongue of the boot (I can make my boots squeak by doing this) you can easily absorb terrain and pressure changes. Focus primarily on ankle flex to stay out of the “back seat”. Knee bend should only be a byproduct of ankle flex so that you stay centered.
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We hope these photos help you have a better understanding of the difference between “ankle flex” and “knee bend” and how they eliminate and contribute to thigh burn. Using proper flex and letting your skeleton support your body weight while skiing will really reduce your fatigue at the end of the day.
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