We are delighted to be partnering with Physiopedia, we see so much value in open resources and sharing of knowledge and we are very happy to support this valuable project for the physiotherapy profession. Allow me to introduce us…
The SkiA Ski Trainer is a unique device that enables users to train highly-specific skills for skiing. The product comes as a pair of trainers, designed to be attached to ski boots, and 4 pairs of progressively-smaller balance blocks. The trainers are adjusted so that the blocks are centred under the boot. A user can then balance on the blocks, the goal being to keep their heels and toes off the ground.
The largest (green) blocks offer a relatively straightforward balance challenge, suitable for any able-bodied person. The smaller (blue and red blocks) are each more difficult than before and offer a significant, although achievable, challenge for good skiers. The smallest (black) blocks, are only ½ inch wide, and offer a challenge equivalent to balancing sideways on a tightrope wearing ski boots.
The device enables skiers to train, practice and refine highly ski-specific balance skills. In particular, they train highly accurate skills of centred balance. Essentially, to balance on the blocks, users have to be balanced exactly on centre. The trainers therefore automatically train a dynamic ‘perfect’ posture for skiing.
Other benefits include:
- Promotion of effective movement patterns – users have to apply highly specific patterns of movement to stay in balance as they flex and extend.
- Activation of proprioception and the small muscles in the feet – challenging balance in this way ‘fires up’ the receptors and muscles that control balance and position.
- Development of core strength – the work involved in maintaining balance and body position develops a strong and stable core.
Applied on snow, the skills trained by the device can transform a skier’s performance. Many skiers – even very experienced skiers – are out of balance, being too far forwards or too far back on their skis. To maintain balance and control, they have to use muscular effort to stay upright – which is tiring and inefficient. Instead, a skier that is centred uses balance skills to stay ‘stacked’ – that is, aligned so that the skeleton can deal with the forces generated, and so that their muscles are free to alternately rest and work dynamically.
The SkiA Trainer represents a unique new approach to ski training. It offers immediate results and lasting benefits for skiers of every ability, and it’s fun and intuitive to use. It has been recognised and endorsed by many of the world’s leading ski organisations:
- Professional Ski Instructors of America
- Canadian Ski Instructors Association
- British Association of Ski Instructors
- Australian Professional Ski Instructors
- New Zealand Ski Instructors Association
- Irish Association of Ski Instructors
- Deutscher Skilehrerverband (German Ski Instructors Association)
- SITN (Polish Ski Instructors Association)
- Benni Raiche Race Academy
Why it works
Other balance trainers, such as wobble boards, rely primarily on movements of the ankle joints to maintain balance.
The SkiA Ski Trainer is designed to be used with ski boots because, with the ankles ‘braced’ by the boots, it’s impossible to balance on the trainers by using just feet and ankle movements. It’s essential to use the whole body to balance. Users have to engage their knees, hips, shoulders, head and arms to stay centred – the whole body is activated (and automatically adopts a dynamic, centred posture).
This is the way that we normally balance – we don’t balance on solid ground by using isolated ankle movements. Therefore the trainer accurately simulates normal (or skiing) balance, but in a much more highly refined and challenging way.
It is a unique challenge – no other balance trainer works this way. Indeed, the device is patented in the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and is patent pending in the USA.
The SkiA Ski Trainer has a particular role for skiers undergoing rehabilitation for injury. It offers a graded reactivation, with a progressive balance challenge and promoting ski-specific movement patterns. Mobilisation is low-load and with no impact risk.
For skiers that habitually ski too far forwards or back on their skis, developing and applying skills of centred balance can reduce the loading on the knees and low back, and may reduce the risk of future injury.