Excruciating pain - bad technique?


Excruciating pain - bad technique?

Started by Boink in Ski Technique - 10 Replies

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Boink posted Dec-2015


A bit of advice needed but first of all a short introduction.
I've been skiing for 3 years, 4-5 days each year on average. No problem handling blue runs and the easiest reds, but anything more challenging than that is still off limits. Parallel turns are ok, unless very steep and/or icy.
One problem I consistently have is excruciating pain in my legs, particularly the quads, that sets in almost as soon as I set my foot on the slope. Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to pause 4-5 times during a single descent.
I tried everything I can think of: training before skiing (both cardio and weight training), lots of rest, sauna/massage between skiing sessions, vitamins, analgesics, hot whiskey (not all at the same time).
My girlfriend (much more advanced than me) doesn't see anything wrong with my technique, but she's no instructor.
Any feedback is much appreciated.



reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

I'm not really qualified to comment here as I'm not an instructor. However the pain you describe sounds very much like I experienced in my early days of skiing. I eventually found that it was because I was not really keeping the skis parallel to distribute the weight. So in essence on a turn I was putting all my weight on the downhill ski and really pressing it down. That meant that I was using effort (and muscle) to get the ski to 'bite' for the turn instead of just letting the skis run. I did find it easier on shorter skis and I now seem to have mastered it and am back on correct length skis. I no longer get stiff legs when skiing, so I think my technique has eradicated the pain.
I'm not saying I'm right, but if your problem is the same as mine was, it does disappear as your technique improves. If you don't want more lessons, then study what the 'good' skiers do and try to emulate that.
Good luck.
Skied: On snow, On water, On mud, On slush, On ice. Oh, and on a few dry slopes.

Bedrock barney
reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

I started skiing in 2010 (in my 40's!).

I've managed to fit in 10 ski holidays in that time and for the 1st 4 or 5 I used to struggle with very fatigued quads. On long runs at the end of the day I was having to stop on a regular basis. I then had two days of personal lessons in Zermatt which hugely improved my technique. In the main I was sitting back too much and also skidding the turns. Therefore far too much energy was being spent holding my body in a lazy position rather than a dynamic leaning forward position. Committing to a higher speed smooth turn also helped reduce input of energy.

I'm still lazy at times and need to remind myself about technique. I'm also sometimes still inefficient on black runs and steep reds and I know I lean back.

It's partly mind over matter. On steeper slopes it's counter intuitive to point down the hill and let the speed build up. However, with the right technique it's easy to scrub off this speed into the turn (apparently!).

I now rarely have quad pain although I do get a fairly heavy ache in both calf muscles by day three. This is usually gone by the end of the week. I put that down mainly to my age and lack of ski fitness.

Best advice - have a private lesson.
slippy slidey snow......me likey!
Edited 2 times. Last update at 17-Dec-2015

reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

Sounds like you are sitting back too much? I'm with Bedrock on this one - get a private lesson and tell them what your problem is.

reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

I am a certified Ski instructor in Canada, and before that a long time Ski Paroller....

I'm hanging on the " excruciating pain " comment. That tells me your at at 9 or 10 out of 10 on the pain scale? Is that accurate or are you having the burn we all feel from time to time? This might be a medical issue. Have you been checked out?

If you have only skied 15 days (3yrs X 5 times a year), that is not anywhere near enough mileage to gain good ski habits. So then I would agree with the others, take lessons, get better, with practice and good technique, the pain will be much less. Fitness won't fix that, mileage will!

I will have skied 15 days this season by the end of this weekend, and I'm still working out the cobwebs from last season!! And yeah, my legs hurt!! It's normal. Although that also might have something to do with my age.

I did notice one thing you could change. Cold Whiskey instead of hot, your confusion with that one is you should be in a Hot Tub whilst sipping the whiskey....
Always follow the 20cm rule!
Edited 2 times. Last update at 17-Dec-2015

Dave Mac
reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

The OP is complaining of "excruciating pain in my legs, particularly the quads", but has also indicated he/she is relatively fit. The pain starts at the start of a ski day. and is a red run standard.

If any person was very unfit, they may quickly experiences lactic acid build up, normally within 2 min. Highly fit people also experience LA build up, but only at the extremes of athletic capability. I used to get this when I ran below 4min 15s for the mile.

My suspicion is that the OP has a medical issue that should be checked out. Maybe a doctor, but a high standard sports physio, sports scientist might be fruitful.

reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

I'd also recommend a checkup. I had big back problems after skiing fine for a few years. The doctor found I had one femur shorter than the other. Even after three or four medicals for new jobs, no one had picked this up. Turned out my right femur is 12mm shorter but the body compensates and when I went to the sport medics they did some gait analysis and all I needed was a 3mm insole in my right boot. After that, all was fine. If you think about it, a lot of people have one foot 1/2 size smaller than the other, so it shouldn't be a surprise that you might have differences between one leg and the other which might cause problems.

I'd also recommend the lessons as well - they make a huge difference and are well worth the cost, in my view.
Edited 1 time. Last update at 18-Dec-2015

reply to 'Excruciating pain - bad technique?'
posted Dec-2015

Thank you all for the helpful feedback
Now a few comments...

CanadianSkier wrote:
I'm hanging on the " excruciating pain " comment. That tells me your at at 9 or 10 out of 10 on the pain scale? Is that accurate or are you having the burn we all feel from time to time? This might be a medical issue. Have you been checked out?

When you put it like that I guess "excruciating pain" was a bit of an overstatement. Perhaps "intense burning" would have been more appropriate. But to be sure, there have been times when - not finding an appropriate place to stop in time - I voluntarily lied down and took a fall just to curb the pain. Never occurred to me to get it checked though.

Having read all your comments and also looking at a few snapshots I took during the last season, I can see that I indeed ride an invisible chair. My thighs are almost parallel to the ground (particularly on steeper runs), my back is bent, my feet are in front of me, etc. One other thing I realize, I never voluntarily apply pressure on the boot "tongue" with my shin.
And yeah, I do skid. I guess that's because I'm still an apprehensive skier and do not like skiing at speed.
Is it possible to correct these habits without an instructor? Nothing against lessons, but they are quite expensive where I'm going, particularly private tuition.

Topic last updated on 19-December-2015 at 05:08

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