Preventing back pain when skiing
An achey or painful back can ruin a ski holiday and there are certain common technique faults that can contribute to this. Even if you don’t suffer form back pain, correction of these common biomechanical inefficiencies can make a huge difference to your technique and performance on the mountain.The following explains what they are and how to correct them.
a)Ski in pelvic neutral. Skiing in the “neutral position” of the low back and pelvis will help to reduce back pain when skiing. Some people ski with the pelvis tilted forwards and too much of a curve in the bottom of the back which looks like you are slightly sticking the bottom out. Others flatten their backs and tuck their bottoms under too much. Either extreme puts your spine in a position which predisposes it to damage, partly because the muscles have to overwork, and partly because it puts more strain on the ligaments, discs and facet joints of your low back. Add in a few bumps and this can quickly lead to discomfort. Please read the back section of this website to learn more about how the back works and common causes of back pain. To find pelvic neutral, stand up straight and then you tip your pelvis forwards, sticking your bottom out and making your lower back more curved as far as you can. Then tuck your bottom under as far as you can thereby flattening the lower back. Your pelvic neutral is roughly half way between those two extremes. To fine tune this position, it is worth seeing your Physiotherapist or Osteopath. Once you have found this position, stand side on to the mirror and do a skiing knee bend whilst maintaining the same curvature of your lower back. You need to do at least 30 little knee bends holding pelvic neutral 3-4 times a day to retrain the movement pattern so that it becomes your subconscious normal.
b)Rotate at the hip joints not at the pelvis. Make sure you are rotating at the ball and socket joint of your hips when you are skiing not twisting in your lower back and pelvis. The ball and socket joints of the hips are where the crease forms when you sit down and not the bony bits at the front of your pelvis which are commonly called the hips. There is more information and demonstrations of how to do this in more detail in Lucy’s Bodytech Ski DVD, but if you really want to improve then it is worth booking in for a one to one Ski Assessment with her.Click here to see a clip of the DVD and click on the following link to buy it from the Ski Club of Great Britain website.
c) Pilates or similar exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold you in pelvic neutral and who support your lower back can really help. Please click on the link to learn how to strengthen your deep core muscles.
d)Relax! Easier said than done, but you really dont need to use every single muscle in your body to turn a ski, try and make the movements natural. You know how relaxed ski instructors look when they are skiing –that is because they are!
e)Diagnosis . Make sure you see a physio, osteopath or doctor before you go skiing to get your back injury properly diagnosed and treated, as some conditions will require specialized treatment, or additional exercises.
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