Movement Assessment for Skiers

Have you ever wondered if your movement on land was limited? That maybe that was limiting your ability to move well on skis? If yes, try the movements in this video.

If you find that you have trouble with any of these movements, or that they feel differently from one side to the other, you have a limitation.

What Should You Do if You Have a Limitation?

I recommend that you try some corrective exercises to improve the movement. Your best bet is to go see a Functional Movement Screen (FMSTM) Certified Trainer and get them to run you through the FMS, which is the best functional assessment system available to trainers (in my professional opinion). The FMS certified trainer will screen you and then provide you with specific corrective exercises to help address your biggest limitations (everybody has some!). To find an FMS certified trainer near you, check out the Trainer Locator map on the FMS website. While you are there, take a look around to get a feel for the FMS. It’s pretty cool. If you are in the Ottawa area, you can come and see me for an FMS.

Unfortunately, most people do not have access to the FMS. In recognition of this, I created mFASTTM, the mini Functional Assessment for Skiers Tool. The assessment portion of mFAST is shown in the video above. If you try the movements out and find that you have limitations, for $25, you can get your video reviewed, a summary report of the review, and a set of up to 4 corrective exercises to help improve your movement.

Why a Functional Assessment?

This video and the associated corrective exercises reflects my mission to encourage skiers to try to fix functional movement problems with exercise before going to a boot fitter for a structural adjustment.

Why? I have a few reasons.

  1. If the problem is functional (meaning you have a weakness or tightness somewhere), then it may actually be quite easy to fix, with no significant financial expense to you.
  2. If you fix the body instead of the boot, then the fix will be in place for all of the other fun sports and active pursuits you have.
  3. I believe that correcting a functional problem with boot alignment, without addressing the cause, may actually add unnatural stress elsewhere on the body. That does not sit well with me.

What About Boot Fitting?

The key to this approach is recognizing that there are both functional and structural alignment issues. Assessment and exercise are your best option if the problem you have is functional. If the problem is structural, then that will not completely address your problem. Structural problems should be corrected with boot alignment.

How Can You Tell If the Problem Is Functional or Structural?

Generally speaking, you can’t. Or at least not initially. And so you are left with two options:

  1. Assume the problem is structural and address it with boot alignment.
  2. Assume the problem is functional and address it with exercise. If, after 3 weeks, there is no improvement, then assume the problem is structural and go see a boot fitter.

I hope you will agree that option 2 is more sensible.

Now if you are in a situation where you need to get your alignment addressed immediately, then go for the boot fitting option, but ask if they can make a re-adjustment if you fix your body alignment functionally through exercise. Go for the immediate fix and either start working on your exercises, or wait until the season is over and then start working on your exercises. Go back to the boot fitter for a readjustment with your newly functional body.

Is there ever a situation where being stronger and moving better is a bad idea?

Elsbeth Vaino is a ski instructor and personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada.

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