location details
People that I ski with regularly are always impressed with my physical flexibility and I am equally astonished at their lack of it. Those that ski well do so in spite of their 'disability' and those that do not would, without doubt, ski better and with more control and efficiency if they were more mobile.

My studies with recreational athletes and subsequent work have proved that flexibility can be improved dramatically and measurably after a few treatments. I was so excited by the potential benefits for skiers that I designed a course of treatments that would focus on the areas most essential to skiing (legs, hips and lower back). This work was featured in a report in 'Ski & board' magazine last year after one of their journalists had a course of treatments with me. Her comments can be seen in articles & reviews.

The elements of the treatments are not so unusual in themselves, but they are applied in such a way as to repair muscle fibre damage, stretch the muscles and maximise joint mobility as a priority. Stretching is certainly important and a personalised program will be prepared for you to do during the course of treatment.

Why is flexibility so important? Because skiing is a graceful, yet dynamic sport that demands a full range of movement (especially from the lower body), good muscle co-ordination and balance. Improved muscle tone and function allows better muscle control and co-ordination, essential for making the small instantaneous adjustments that we need to keep our skis in contact with the snow and going where we want to be. Improving posture and flexibility allows us to move effortlessly in and out of balance as we ski.

The other benefit of flexibility improvement is that it will reduce the risk of injury when skiing AND when you are training to go skiing. I have never said "don't train to get fit", what I do say is, "if you have limited time to get fit for the coming winter, make flexibility improvement your priority". You will ski better, and safer.

Several of the skiers I treated before last winter called to say that their skiing had definitely improved as a result of the work we did. One said that she skied all week with no pain in her calves for the first time in 11 years (during which time she had received treatment from osteopaths and physiotherapists). None of my clients called to say they had wasted their time.

The number of treatments required depends on the individual. But four or five is usually sufficient.

Body alignment vs Ski alignment

I wrote an article for 'Ski & Board' (Jan/Feb 2002) that looks closely at the functions of each and questions the real benefits of ski alignment for recreational skiers. A reduced text follows: An increasingly popular science in skiing is 'ski alignment'. This involves modifying ski boots to match the alignment (or misalignment) of the legs, then, usually, placing wedges under the ski bindings so that, in your neutral stance, the base of the skis are flat on the snow. The theory is sound, but I take exception on two counts:

  1. how often is snow flat? (as in perfectly flat and level)
  2. aligning boots and skis to (usually) misaligned legs is a make shift solution that simply masks the real problem.
Misalignment of the legs is normally a result of a biomechanical problem with the feet or hips. If the problem is with the feet, an expert boot fitter can create a foot bed to accomodate the contours of the feet in relation to horizontal and (as with knock-knees and bow-legs) can adjust the cuff of the boot to accommodate the angulation of the lower leg.

If the problem is in the hips, a boot fitter or ski aligner will only mask or accommodate the problem. Here's a very simple test that will show if your legs are misaligned from the hips.

Lie flat on the floor with arms by your sides. Get a helper to hold your ankles and gently shake and pull the legs and lay them straight (pencil-straight and in line with the body's mid line) with the ankles close together. They now hold the ankles and press into the area just below the bony protuberance at the inside of the ankles (malleolus) and slide the thumbs up until they are pressing into the lower ramp of each malleolus. If each thumb (pointing downwards) is not perfectly level with the other, your hips are out of alignment. (Only 1 in 28 people have an actual anatomical leg length difference). This test will identify the more common hip 'drop'. Diagnosing a twisted pelvis is a bit more complicated.

Your body will compensate for this apparent leg length differential by tensing muscles in the hips and legs unequally and bending the lower back in relation to the hips in an action that cascades up the spine until you have the posture of a human hairpin. The legs will be at different angles relative to vertical, the biomechanics and muscular efficiency of the lower back, hips and legs will be compromised and you will never ski to your full potential.

So what's the solution? Osteopaths and chiropractors will often recognise the condition but will be principally concerned with correcting the spinal consequences rather than the underlying muscular causes, hence the problems persist and re-occur. Of my current clients, some have struggled without success for up to 5 years since being diagnosed, some seeing up to 25 various specialists. In all cases, I have been able to effect a lasting realignment (in the most persistent case) in 6 treatments.

The real benefit of the system I use is that, having corrected the distortion, I can teach you a few very specific and easily learned movements that you can use to maintain pelvic alignment and correct most recurrent problems, thus putting you in control of your skis and in control of any back pains/hip, knee and ankle problems/other spinal pathologies and associated aches and pains that so commonly arise from pelvic distortion.

Of the clients I have spoken to who have skied since having a course of corrective treatments (and having taken responsibility to spend a few minutes each day - often for just a few weeks) to maintain alignment, all have noticed an improvement in their skiing, some saying that they skied better than ever before since treatment.

So now you have a choice. Spend about 200 getting your boots and skis adjusted to accommodate the problem or have the problem easily and painlessly rectified.

The process is similar to my flexibility improvement work, with the added element of pelvic correction. It's simple, usually immediate and truly impressive.