From a human movement and performance standpoint, there are some areas of the body that an improved awareness of may actually make the Ski Season of 08-09 the best one yet! While the lower body gets most of the attention in the gym due to the “leg burn” that we ALL have felt, it would be a form of neglect to not train the areas north of the hips.

It is impossible to “single out” one part of the body since the human body is ONE unit and that if one area of the body is “off,” then every other will be effected. To simplify this concept, identifying the importance of 5 specific areas of the body or 5 Stations can help illustrate how a deficiency on one part of the chain will effect the other parts of the chain. To no surprise, these 5 Stations span the entire body.

The 5 Stations are the foot/ankle, the knees, the hips, the lumbar spine and the thoracic spine. Further, these areas are assigned to be either an area of stability or mobility (original idea from Gray Cook and Mike Boyle). So if we look at all 5 Stations it should (hopefully) look like this:

  1. Foot/Ankle – Mobile

  2. Knees – Stable

  3. Hips – Mobile

  4. Lumbar Spine – Stable

  5. Thoracic Spine – Mobile

You may note that all these areas alternate from being an area of mobility or stability. Based on these guidelines, if the role of the area changes (due to injury, overuse, lack of proper training, etc.), then the role of the following areas MUST change due to how the body compensates.

For today, let’s get into the foot/ankle and we will cover the other 4 stations at a later date. For example, let’s assume (very carefully) that my foot/ankle becomes more stable than mobile. Now, if a particular task requires my foot/ankle to be mobile (and it doesn’t have it because it is more stable) then it WILL get the mobility from somewhere else. Often, this extra mobility may come from somewhere where we don’t want it to come from (knees or lower back…OUCH!). What ends up happening is a domino effect in which every station will start to change it’s role (either being an area of stability or mobility) which throws the entire chain “out of whack.”

How will the body compensate for a foot/ankle that is not mobile enough? If someone is given the command to squat down and their ankles don’t move too well, they will typically more more at the hips to make up what they don’t have at the foot/ankle joint. Think about this for yourself…as you sit into your chair, do you decend into a smooth squat where you bend at the feet/ankles, knees and hips? Or on your way down do you reach a point where you just “fall” into your chair…possibly due to a lack of mobility in the foot/ankle complex??

How about on the slopes? A skier and snowboarder is required to “flex” into their boots during a number of different times throughout the day on the mountain. If there is restricted movement in the foot/ankle, what will the compensation look like? Perhaps a skier will be more prone to be a “back-seat” skier and the snowboarder will begin to flex more at the hips to get closer to the snow?

These are only speculations, however by applying the laws of human function to the slopes, logic can tell us that something less than optimal will occur. Now, this does not mean that one cannot successfully get down the slopes…its just that you may have to work a little harder, thats all! Offset this with the cost of a lift ticket, gas to get to the mountain and the cost of gear and now it becomes that much more difficult to get “your moneys worth!”