The key to a solid foundation for your snowboarding is neutral posture and pelvic position. Without this strong and mobile base, it is harder to balance and feel stable on top of your board. A compromised stance where the spine and joints in the body are not aligned makes it more difficult to acquire new skills and inhibits mobility. Maintaining a neutral spine when you ride will help you reach your potential by creating a more efficient movement pattern. It’s easy to practice good posture throughout the day off-snow and create massive improvements on-snow in your riding.
Problems Associated with Bad Posture:
- Strain on muscles and ligaments throughout the body.
- Increased risk of injury.
- Damages the spine and changes the anatomical characteristics.
- Back and neck pain.
- Inefficient movement pattern in the body.
- Constricts the movements of blood vessels, nerves and blood flow.
- Headaches and breathing problems.
- Poor balance.
Benefits of Neutral Posture:
- Improves balance and stability on a snowboard.
- Increases body awareness.
- Allows bones and joints to be in a strong structural alignment. This ensures that muscles and ligaments can function correctly, decreasing the amount of harmful wearing on bones and joints.
- Helps to fight off joint pain and degenerative arthritis.
- The spine is a complex matrix of ligaments, nerves, and muscles. Neutral posture reduces the strain on everything that holds the spinal joints together helping to prevent injury.
- With good posture, the body uses less energy, which helps prevent fatigue because your muscles can work more efficiently.
- When you get caught unaware and bucked or want to deliberately change body position for a trick, coming back to the neutral position is always one of strength, stability, balance and recovery.
- Look taller, leaner and healthier!
Good Posture For Snowboarding Optimisation
Your spine and pelvis connect the whole body, the upper half with lower. So, having strong neutral posture is an important aspect of having a healthy and functional body. Often we need to relearn and teach the body how to have nice relaxed posture. Although having good posture is natural to the human body, it can be forgotten due to lifestyle and working environments.
When trying to create a neutral position in the spine and pelvis, it may feel stiff and awkward at first. You need repetition and continued awareness to develop muscle memory of the neutral posture. Ideally. the body will build the functional strength to unconsciously adopt and maintain a position of good posture without fatigue. Thought the day continuously bring awareness to body position to develop the mind-muscle connection.
Awareness of pelvic position
A less efficient position of the pelvis is commonly seen in female and male snowboarders. When standing or flexing down the pelvis tilts forward and the tailbone hikes up (anterior pelvic tilt). The evidence of this is seen in the lower back having a bigger curve and the butt sticking out. It is caused by muscle imbalances / weakness and tightness. If you are walking around with the common issue it will transfer into your snowboard stance unconsciously.
When snowboarding you are constantly flexing and extending your legs to get a variety of outcomes. If the position of the spine and pelvis is not optimal, when you bend down your centre of mass (COM) where most of your weight is held, is put further away from your base of support (feet & snowboard). The upper body usually folds or “breaks” forward to compensate. This will throw off your balance and make it challenging to recover when riding bumpy terrain or landing jumps/drops.
Due to a less effective movement pattern, strain is put on muscles and ligaments, increasing the chance of injury. With a forward tilt in the pelvis, instead of the ankles, knees and hips working to cushion and absorb the landing of a bump / jump, your lower back does the work and takes a pounding.
You don’t want pelvis / hip tilting towards the front of the body and down:
You do want to rotate hip / pelvis backwards into a neutral position. Careful you don’t go too far the opposite way:
- Practice slow deliberate squats on your board while moving and stationary. Maintain an intense focus on keeping a neutral position. start off in a small range of motion first then work towards increasing it.
- Imagine tucking your belt buckle to your belly button to help achieve a neutral position in the pelvis.
- Build core, oblique and glute strength.
- Regularly stretch hip flexors and quads to avoid muscles becoming overly tight / shortened.
- Sidas custom insoles in your snowboard boots can work wonders in helping you maintain a more neutral position in the lower body and take strain off joints.
- Try some bridges to warm up and build strength
Cues for good posture
- Use a mirror. This is a great tool to help show the alignment in your body and how to correct it. Imagine a line from the earlobe going straight down through the shoulder, hip, knee and ankle joints.
- Adopt a neutral stance with feet shoulder width apart. This is a strong stable base for the body and useful to help build good posture.
- Bring awareness to where the weight is in your feet. If weight is loaded into the heels, the tendency is to slip into a slouching posture. Shift weight 50-50 on both feet and spread evenly between the balls of the feet and heels.
- Ankles, hips and knees should be relaxed and not “locked”. This helps to take pressure off the lower back.
- Stand up straight with shoulder blades back and together. This allows the shoulders to be level and not roll forward. If your shoulders slouch and roll forward it can cause pain and impingement in the shoulder joint.
- Humble the chin and pull your head back. Bad posture, tends to tighten and strain the muscles in the neck, causing the head to be drop forward. Imagine reaching for the roof with the top of your head
- Engage your core. Pull your belly button to the spine.
- On your board think about rolling onto / distributing weight to the outside of the feet to ensure the knees are not coming in and buckling towards each other.
Practice a neutral posture while sitting
Many jobs or study requirements at school and universities require sitting for long periods of time, which can be damaging to posture without the proper cues. Smartphones are also causing an outbreak of neck and back pain across the world because of the head stooping forward to read text. It is crucial to understand how to bring awareness to and get better posture while sitting. Easily practice the position when you are sitting then implement it when you are snowboarding!
A strong and mobile spine is an essential tool for a healthier body and boost in snowboard performance. This adjustment in body position will help you excel in every other athletic activity. Daily practice of body awareness is the best way to improve posture and position of the spine, ensuring it stays stable and flexible. You can practice anywhere, having a beer at the bar, waiting in line or standing during a conversation. When you are on the hill riding, good posture will come naturally and with ease.
An excellent stretch to help with anterior pelvic tilt:
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