What tensions are we consciously aware of at any given time? Even as you read this article, are the muscles in your shoulders relaxed or do you hold tension anywhere else?

A very motivated and excited Diego Linares greeted of us at the beginning of his clinic. 20 riders from 14 different countries and I spent time warming up without boards on, Diego’s goal here was to have us appreciate mobility and really feel the sensations in our boot. He took a very holistic view to how everyday tensions within the body are unnecessary and can be trapped in many places in the body. The feet, hips and shoulders were main areas we focused on here and how we breath. From the chest, belly or both?

The crew starting to loosen up

It was super important for us to identify which muscles in the feet were engaged and whether or not our foot and ankle was relaxed. As we cruised down to the lift we had a relaxed lower body in mind as we explored maximum range of movements rotationally in a speed-check, additionally how we could isolate rotation within our hips/spine leaving our shoulders in line with the board.

There was good discussion on the chair about how we aim to use just the right amount of muscle tension to support our skeleton as we ride. Other support will come from our equipment in order to achieve the desired result as we turn/trick.

Movement was key throughout all directions over the board, we grabbed each edge during turns and worked out if there were any joints that had limited range, compared to others. With a passionate South American accent he would say “move to adapt!”

As we reached the park, he had us think about world class athletes and how they move, what made them look so effortless. Gymnasts have both excellent range and strength to support themselves, we should be no different – especially when it comes to boning out that grab! Focusing on good timing of pop, we were encouraged to retract our legs over the jumps. We had to achieve this by relaxing the muscles in the foot as much as possible on approach then an explosive pop over the jump and hip searching for amplitude.

Diego watching the other nations whilst Richie rides past

Our Reflections

Four years ago, part of our Interski presentation topics was foot sensitivity. It was great to see Diego’s take on a similar topic and blend in cognitive and associative concepts to do with muscle tension.

One of the best riding tasks I have done this week was to try carving at speed with completely relaxed arms – let them completely relax and hang with gravity. A nice contrast from the tension in my arms and it was a good challenge to remove a way I would normally use for balance.

– By Richie Johnston