The Waist Width of Skis Influences the Kinematics of the Knee Joint in Alpine Skiing

J Sports Sci Med. 2015 Aug 11;14(3):606-19. eCollection 2015 Sep.


Recently alpine skis with a wider waist width, which medially shifts the contact between the ski edge and the snow while turning, have appeared on the market. The aim of this study was to determine the knee joint kinematics during turning while using skis of different waist widths (65mm, 88mm, 110mm). Six highly skilled skiers performed ten turns on a predefined course (similar to a giant slalom course). The relation of femur and tibia in the sagital, frontal and coronal planes was captured by using an inertial motion capture suit, and Global Navigation Satellite System was used to determine the skiers' trajectories. With respect of the outer ski the knee joint flexion, internal rotation and abduction significantly decreased with the increase of the ski waist width for the greatest part of the ski turn. The greatest abduction with the narrow ski and the greatest external rotation (lowest internal rotation) with the wide ski are probably the reflection of two different strategies of coping the biomechanical requirements in the ski turn. These changes in knee kinematics were most probably due to an active adaptation of the skier to the changed biomechanical conditions using wider skis. The results indicated that using skis with large waist widths on hard, frozen surfaces could bring the knee joint unfavorably closer to the end of the range of motion in transversal and frontal planes as well as potentially increasing the risk of degenerative knee injuries. Key pointsThe change in the skis' waist width caused a change in the knee joint movement strategies, which had a tendency to adapt the skier to different biomechanical conditions.The use of wider skis or, in particular, skis with a large waist width, on a hard or frozen surface, could unfavourably bring the knee joint closer to the end of range of motion in transversal and frontal planes as well as may potentially increase the risk of degenerative knee injuries.The overall results of the abduction and internal rotation in respect to turn radii and ground reaction forces indicated that the knee joint movements are likely one of the key points in alpine skiing techniques. However, the skiing equipment used can still significantly influence the movement strategy.

Keywords: Abduction; inertial sensor; rotation; ski turn; three-dimensional joint movements.