Mechanics of motion
The thing that makes snowboarding possible is the range of motion and balance that the human body naturally has. The basics of this movement are flexing and extending as well as rotating. The more we understand about how this works and work towards improving our range of motion the better we will become at snowboarding.
The first type of movement is vertical movement. Vertical movement is either up or down and impacts the pressure that we exert on the snowboard when riding. Two examples of vertical movement are up unweighting and down unweighting. Both actions accomplish the same thing, reducing the amount of weight being exerted on your snowboard but in different ways. Up unweighting is achieved by rising off your snowboard, such as when you jump up, while down unweighting is caused by suddenly lowering your body and thus taking the weight off your feet.
The next significant type of movement is lateral movement. Lateral movement adjusts your weight to be more on your toes or heels. Lateral movement can be accomplished by leaning to either your front or back side or by flexing your joints in such a way that it exerts more pressure on either side of the snowboard.
Next, comes fore and aft movement. This movement adjusts the amount of weight that is put upon either foot. The spacing between your feet on your snowboard usually controls fore and aft weighting, but it can also be controlled by tilting your upper body, pushing or pulling your feet and shifting your hips.
The last type of movement used is rotary movement. Rotary movement is the action of twisting your body to on side or the other. There are several types of rotary movement including upper body rotating, lower body rotating and anticipation. Your head controls a great deal of your twisting. When turning a person will anticipate the motion and look where they wish to go, twist there upper body thus creating the energy needed to execute the turn and then follow through by rotating their lower body to line up with their head and upper body.
The final thing to consider, while not technically a motion, is balance. Snowboarding would not be possible without balance, and your body is constantly adjusting slightly to remain balanced. When you find your sweet spot, the position where your body is perfectly balanced upon the snowboard, you will be able to control your snowboard much more accurately, you will not fall and you will not be nearly as tired at the end of the day since you are exerting less force trying to stay balanced.
Snowboarding stretching exercises
One key way to improving all of these motions is to be flexible and limber. The best way to do this is to stretch regularly is such a way that it compliments the movements you will use when snowboarding. The safest and easiest method of stretching is static stretching. Static stretching involves moving into a position that lengthens your muscles and holding that position for a short period. The following are some ideas of stretches that may be helpful to you. But don’t forget to seek medical or professional advice before proceeding.
1. Calf stretching
Lean against a wall and slide your right foot about two feet behind you. With the left leg bent and your right leg straight, push down on your right foot until you feel it on the top of your calf. Hold for a few seconds and switch sides.
2. Hip flexor stretching
Assume a push-up style position on the floor. Keep one leg limply extended behind you and bring the other leg forward so that your knee is bent at a 90′ angle under you. Press the hip on the side of your extended leg towards the floor to stretch your flexor. You can also slide backward without moving the toes of your extended leg to stretch the back of your knee.
3. Quadriceps stretch
Stand with your feet slightly apart and close to a wall for support. Bring one leg up behind you, hold it there with your free hand. Now pull your leg back and slightly higher to complete the stretch.
4. Hip and lower back
Sit on the floor with your right leg straight out in front of you. Bend your left leg and place your left foot as close to your right knee as possible. Now bend your right arm and rest your right elbow on your left knee and then look over your shoulder.
5. Groin stretch
Sit on the floor with your feet together. Grab your feet with your hands and try to push your knees to the floor.
6. Cobra Pose
Lie on the ground with your palms and elbows touching the floor. Now begin to raise your chin, shoulders and upper back off the floor as high as you can. Do not use your arms as levers to lift off the floor. Instead, use your back muscles to raise you up as high as you can.
By thinking about the motions that are required to control a snowboard and actively working to improve your control over them you will rapidly become a better and agiler snowboarder. Also, understanding the motions that are used, and being able to recognize them, will make learning new tricks easier and faster. And finally, if nothing else, stretching and moving properly will significantly reduce your risk of injury on the hill.