Slalom skiers are an interesting breed. They are never fully satisfied with their score, constantly in pursuit of one more buoy and usually have some sort of gripe about lower back issues. Lower back pain plagues our sport as much as fin tweaking and spray leg. Maybe even more. And you likely have even experienced it yourself. Slalom skiing puts a rather complicated and heavy toll on our body every time we ski. We might not even be aware of it but the position is unnatural for the human body and our stance screams for compensation in our body.
This compensation, to make up for the unnatural stance, is necessary for us to ski our best and continue to gain more buoys. It is part of the game! But we have to understand that those compensations while we participate in our sport slowly cause the body to shift which more often than not results in bad posture and a myriad of other subconscious compensations.
So what do we do? It’s easier said than done but the concept is relatively simple: We must bring the body back to it’s neutral position.
Looking at a typical slalom position, we notice that we really try to resist the pull from the boat by pushing or holding the pull from the boat to create speed, torque and angle. As a matter of fact, waterskiing is one of not too many sports I see where you have two different sources of energy input. One is your upper body and the pull from the boat forward and the other input is the water where you resist against with your ski and lower body.
So you will notice that those two energy sources/inputs will meet somewhere. Ideally it should happen right in the middle of your body. Then you will feel “connected” to the boat as we like to say! But that’s also where we feel the most amount of pressure.
When we talk about a “normal posture” we mean that our hips are neutral (they feel tucked) straight under the center of our bodies and our back looks somewhat flat. This an ideal position.
In order to achieve a natural “normal” position, you need:
1. A really well-functioning core with substantial core strength
2. A mobile spine and a mobile yet stable hip.
As soon as any one of these areas begin to lack, you will subconsciously compensate in your day-to-day life which can result in long-term issues or can go completely undetected.
Where the two energy sources meet behind the boat and in the middle of our bodies, we create a ton of pressure and exaggerate those areas in which we are weak by leaning on the areas of compensation. So any slight compensation you had before will just get more pronounced and made worse. It’s a habit game because the muscles which are already causing the compensation in the first place will get activated even more and will exaggerate this compensation.
As an example, if you are lacking in core strength you are prone to do every single move you do over the day in hyperextension of your spine, shortening the distance between each vertebrae and in turn, shortening those muscles. In this instance the decreased muscles pulls your hips backwards causing the pelvis to sit at an anterior tilt or drop. This means that your pelvis falls forward, which decreases the space between vertebrae in your lower back even more. Muscles therefore continue to get tight and you will feel pressure in your lower back. Many people assume this means you have “lower back” issues when in realty it is a merely a symptom of an area of weakness.
So like I said before, you can go on without noticing, but putting it into the slalom skiing where we live in a slightly hyperextended and exaggerated environment, under an intense amount of pressure, for our spine to resist the pull forward, this compensation will wreak havoc.
The way to get out of this habit is pretty simple. If we already have this compensation, we work on relaxing / stretching and mobilizing the muscles in the lower back and hip and afterwards work on loosing the habit of our improper posture. Only after these first two steps are accomplished, we then train to strengthen the core and hip muscles (This includes your glutes, flexors, abductors and adductors).
By doing so, we have a chance of decreasing the pain and issues we bring upon ourselves through slalom skiing.
If you have any questions, or would like a free evaluation (either digitally via RadixFit.com or in person at our Central Florida (Winter Garden) location, please contact me at email@example.com)
I’m going to assume we all want to live a long, healthy and happy life. The question is how do we approach it. Do we exercise more? Do we eat better? And what does better actually mean?
Those are the questions I’d imagine a lot of people ask themselves.
And finding the answer can certainly be overwhelming. Exercise alone is not the answer. Diet is alone is not the answer.
The real answer is, both.
You can train as much as you want in your life and go to the gym each day of the year. If you eat terrible junk food you won’t be healthy for long. You might look shredded but the inside of your body looks like a junkyard! That’s where the name junk food came from, I believe! Haha
On the other hand, you may have the best diet in the world but sit behind a desk all day and end up with mobility or heart issues because you are not moving enough. Doing one part to justify not doing the other will give you the same end result of not feeling as balanced and well as you could.
Like most things in life, long-term success takes long-term effort and isn’t associated with anything extreme. Going to the gym and doing hardcore workouts for an hour or two, three times a week is usually unsustainable for most lifestyles at best and results in injury, at worst.
And by that same token, your “diet” must also be sustainable and fit your lifestyle. Anything too extreme often yields a yo-yo effect that could last years.
So in a gluten-free, vegan, organic, non-GMO nutshell (kidding) the answer is in identifying your goals and then finding balance on your path to achieve them. Take time to seriously consider what your goals are. Maybe it is a certain weight or size you want to be or maybe it means you want to get up those stairs without losing your breath. Maybe you want to fix the nagging aches and pains. Or maybe you want to achieve new athletic goals.
All of those things are achievable through a strategic, balance blend of diet and exercise.
Beginning with exercise. Going to the gym and repeating the same 10 machines over and over or going for a jog a few times a week, won’t cut it.
More than just doing cardio and weightlifting, living a healthy, well life stems from being mobile, functionally strong and agile for life.
This doesn’t mean you are lifting a literal ton of weight but it is also more than an occasional yoga session.
A good start for a training session could look something like this:
I know, mobility is in there twice…and for a good reason. Because most of us hate it and it's “boring” and but that is why we can not do it enough. Do the mobility work, your body will thank you! As a side note I recommend finding some mobility exercises which make you think, are challenging and dynamic. Static stretching is not necessarily the mobility you are looking for. You will get flexible but that is not necessarily functional mobility!
Then we have the diet part. I know there are a lot of different diets out there. Keto, Mediterranean, High Protein - Low Carb, Paleo, just to name a few.
So which one to pick?
I always recommend to really study the diet you want to approach and see if that would be something for you every, single, day. Because there are some hardcore diets out there which you do for 21 days, 30 days or even 60 days and you may even loose a lot of weight. But it will come creeping back to you. And besides the weight, you are putting your body through a very stressful time when you drastically change your diet.
It is fascinating how people are more careful with the oil they put in their car and the care they take of the engine to ensure they get the most miles out of their vehicle while limiting breakdowns but are careless with their own health.
Find a diet you know you can master for at least a year and know you are comfortable with the lifestyle. If you find yourself complaining or longing for something different, you may have not selected the best plan for yourself. Your food choices should not be a burden or a source of stress. Stress can block a lot of good operations in our body which influence your success in being a healthy human being. But stress is an entirely different topic for a different day.
Finding a good balance with exercise you enjoy and a well-rounded diet you can maintain for the long-term will change your life. Two books I recommend about healthy eating and movement / mobility and functional training are:
"Food. What the Heck Should I Eat?" by Mark Hyman, MD and "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Dr. Kelly Starrett
If you’d like a consultation to discuss diet options and a fitness plan that is the right fit for your body type, strengths and weaknesses and for your goals, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The off-season is your time to check in with yourself. It's time to identify your weaknesses, inefficient movements and bad habits...then clean them up.
We all know how important it is to do the right type of training during our season. We get coached, we ski every day, we tweak our fins and run back-to-back passes... It’s crucial for the success we want to achieve. Proper sport-specific training in any sport is the key to an athlete's performance.
But what about the well-known but mostly under-appreciated off season training? I see a tendency for most athletes to just stop doing what they are doing when the season is over. I understand the relief of a couple of days or weeks off. It’s really important for the mind to turn off after a long and stressful season. Nevertheless we still need to do our homework!
For me, the off season is almost more important for the success for the next season than the season itself. We can clean up the bad habits we created through heavy skiing. We can learn new ways to move and become more mobile for the next season. And we can lift some weights to get stronger so we aren't trying to build strength during the season and can rather focus on our technique.
We have to understand that the season is only for maintaining our physical abilities and keeping the strength we achieved during the off-season.
WHY DO WE DEVELOP BAD MOVEMENT HABITS?
We, as athletes, are in sports which are unnatural to our body. So our body starts compensating for these unnatural movements every single time we train.
Let’s do the example of waterski slalom:
Every time you put your binding on and stand behind with one foot in front of the other, you start compensating for an unnatural stance. Every time you go around the buoy and take a hit or just break at the hip because you can’t hold the pull, your body compensates. Every time you extend your knees and back in the wake to hold the pull, your body finds a way to compensate. Don’t get me wrong; you might have the perfect position and technique for waterski slalom, but your body subconsciously doesn’t think so. So it will do it’s best to make you happy so you will get one more buoy or rope length. Your body also has the ability to do this game for a long time. But at some point it gives up and tells you. Sometimes with lower back pain or shoulder pain. You name it! And we are not alone. There are a lot of sports who have this issue.
SO, WHAT TO DO? STOP SKIING? YEAH, RIGHT!
You think your limited functionality, constant pain or occasional aches have to do with you getting older or tired. And yes, that might be a factor, but I tell you now, the majority of your pain or limitations during the season (or lack there of) all comes down to your off-season habits. Are you the one who occasionally goes out for a jog or lift some weights in the gym? If so, your not helping your body to be better for skiing. You need to find out why things in your body hurt and how to treat it with proper training and movement clean-up. That’s the way to find happiness for the season and just feel good. And training doesn’t mean the dry, old fashioned machine exercises you see in every gym. You must understand the sport we are, the demands it puts on the body, the strength and movement needed and then train towards this!
Change your mindset and lifestyle and not just train for an event or next season but train for life... So when you are 70+ years old you can do the sport you love without limitations and nagging pain.
When we do proper off-season training supervised by somebody who understands the movements and demands, I guarantee you will enjoy the next season more.
And the off-season training can be fun too!
As a professional waterski athlete and educated strength and conditioning trainer in Germany, Bojan provides a strong understanding of the needs of athletes and can approach their goals while understanding the need to train around competition schedules.