Getting off my butt
January 31, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm a very inexperienced snowboarder ( gone twice with a three year period in between, so...very inexperienced). My problem is, I can't get up, while on the slope, from my butt.

I can flip over to my stomach and lift myself that way, but then I'm turned in the other direction, which is only good some of the time.

What's keeping me from getting up from a sitting position? It's like I get over the board and can't lift myself the rest of the way. I don't know if it's lack of leg strength, abs, balance, or confidence. What exercises can I do to help with this? I tried standing up from a sitting position on land, and no dice.
posted by sweetkid to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Wow. This is something that you'll just do without thinking about it once you get it, so I'm really having to think about it to explain it. The trick is to let gravity help you get up. You're facing downhill, so if your upper body falls down the hill faster than your feet slide down it, you'll stand right up. So start sliding down the hill a bit, dig your heelside edge in just enough to slow your board down so that your upper body can catch up and use gravity to stand up by falling down the hill over your legs. Does that make sense?
posted by The World Famous at 7:06 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: I'd say it's a mixture of lack of strength, balance, and experience. I had the same problem the first few times I went snowboarding, but I just kept plugging away and I got it eventually. You'll figure it out soon I'm sure.
posted by soy_renfield at 7:20 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: You can't really get up heelside (on your butt) because you need some forwards momentum to keep yourself stable. Point the board down the mountain a little, push yourself off the ground with your hands, and kick down with your uphill leg to straighten out your board, going across the mountain, not down. It's way easier to get up toeside anyways, because you're just doing a pushup and you can use your hands to slow yourself down. Getting up heelside is harder because you have less control (no hands to slow you down unless you eat it). At this point, you should do whatever is easier, because no matter what, you're gonna be on the ground. A lot.

But keep at it! Once you start toeside carving and can link some turns, you'll be like "This is AWESOME!!" But its going to take a while. And you're going to eat it really hard sometimes, especially when you get good enough to go fast, but not good enough to control your speed. Get a helmet. And try to land on your forearms/elbows, not your hands/wrists, and your butt, not your back/head.
posted by wayofthedodo at 7:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had this problem too - the only way I ever managed to stand up while facing downhill was to grab the heel side of my board (yes, digging my hand into the snow in the process). I have no idea why this worked for me, but it did. few attempts at snowboarding only served to convince me that skiing is the sport for me ...
posted by Metasyntactic at 7:32 PM on January 31, 2011

Response by poster: yes, I should note -- I've never skiied either, so my body is really in "WTF winter sports??" mode.
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: It's probably a little bit of everything you mention. It's a hard position to get up in when you're just starting out, because you'll start to slide immediately. You can practice at home, though, by sitting down and standing up from a squat many times. Grab the edge of your board if you need to when you're in the snow, and remember to push down more heavily on your front foot as you stand so your weight is headed downslope, if that makes sense (you don't want to be leaning back/upslope as you stand up) If it feels more comfortable, continue getting up from hands and knees until you're more confident. It's hard to get there when you've just strapped in, but that's what a lot of people do when they're learning.

When I was a beginner, I did a lot of wriggling around in undignified positions just so everything would be where I need it to be when I stood up. Once you get stronger, you won't have to do that any more (well, at least it will be much less often).
posted by oneirodynia at 7:49 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: You shouldn't be too worried about getting up this way right now. It's going to take a few more outings to get comfortable. When I started I could pretty much only get up toe side first with my body facing uphill. I was way more comfortable going down the hill falling leaf style. It helped me master my toe edge. Plus, I could always drop down onto my knees if I felt like I needed to bail.

Once you master that toe edge you'll have progressed so much that getting up on the heel edge won't feel that scary or impossible because as wayofthedodo said above you'll be more comfortable pointing your dominant foot forward as you push off.

Good luck and don't forget your helmet!!!
posted by yfatah at 7:52 PM on January 31, 2011

Response by poster: I love you all and all your lovely answers! If you want to go practice in the tristate NY area PM me...
posted by sweetkid at 7:57 PM on January 31, 2011

I don't snowboard, so this is secondhand, but the way it's been described to me was, you try to do a sit-up so hard that by the time your torso comes to vertical your whole body is scooting forward (downhill) and you can sort of let that momentum carry you up onto your feet. It sounds similar to what The World Famous describes, except you swing your arms over your head for the extra momentum and when your butt lifts off the ground you'll sort of be seated on the air with your knees bent, swinging upward as though you're hinged to the ground at the feet. Then you have to straighten your legs real quick or you fall face-first down the hill.

Having seen this once, I can say it looks pretty cool. Personally, I would be a little frightened of any technique that ends with "or you fall face-first down the hill" but I guess if you're snowboarding in the first place this isn't a problem for you.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:57 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: Personally, I found this maneuver incredibly hard when I started snowboarding, but I was also out of shape. The next year I went back I had started going regularly to the gym, and suddenly it was much easier. It could just be experience, but I think the gym thing is too much of a coincidence. I would say it's thighs, stomach and back muscles.
Exercises to try: sit-ups (slowly! And no need to go all the way to upright). That one where you have your back to the wall and you bend your knees so you look like you're sitting on an invisible chair. I can't think of any back exercises off the top of my head, but I'm sure you can google some.
posted by Joh at 8:08 PM on January 31, 2011

Response by poster: I could do it on a smaller slope, but a steeper slope was the challenge.
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: Two-planker here. The reason I never took up this awesome sport, despite being a surfer and a wind-surfer, was precisely the problem you've iterated. I have the balance and feel needed to transition from skis to a board, but all the hassle involved in dealing with all that sitting down, and buckling in, and then getting back up has prevented me from taking it up. I have quads and calves that steroid monkeys would die for, BTW, but this doesn't help much, because (as with all adrenaline sports) that actually doesn't matter in the beginning as much as does skill. It's the technique that's important.

There are two ways to acquire this. Painful experience, and directed practice. As an example, when I was graduating from long-boards with big sails in moderate winds, to short boards with small sails in heavy winds, I kept getting blown away over the boom arm and into my sail. When I got back to shore and the club owner asked me what my problem was, I told him I wasn't strong enough. He then proceeded to tack and gybe a full-size sail in what was turning into a gale at that point on the land simulator with his two index fingers. I weigh 220 and he weighs 145. It was his skill that made the difference.

The moral here is obvious. Take a lesson. You will be amazed at how much just one lesson will improve your experience. Given the time, cost and energy involved in undertaking these activities I am amazed that more people don't grasp this. I've been skiing for 40 years, and I always take a lesson at the beginning of the season, a few weeks later, and then at least once more later on. You will amazed at how much more you will learn with a trained instructor watching and helping you. I'd say that the learning curve can be reduced by as much as 90% in many cases. Seriously. Best thing you can ever do with these kinds of hobbies.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:30 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Grab the toe side of your board, scrunch up your knees, pull on your arms until your board is as much behind your butt as you can get it, rock on your butt for one second and on your way forward, give one last quick pull with your hands while using your leg strength to stand up. To avoid falling right back down, point your board quickly downhill for just the one second necessary to get a little speed, then proceed to riding your heelside brakes as you flutter your way down the slope.
posted by salvia at 8:31 PM on January 31, 2011

Best answer: Another option on the really sleep slopes (since it sounds like that's your challenge now anyway) is to get up with your board facing much more downslope, then quickly turn into a toeside braking pattern. I don't wholeheartedly recommend this option because there's one moment of total speed and panic, but you could give it a shot. It can be a quick way to get to your feet.
posted by salvia at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2011

Salvia's got it. The trick I learned from boarding instructors when "on the ground": grab the front of the board between the legs with one hand. I ride goofy, so I use my right hand. With the other hand supporting your weight behind you, simultaneously pull on the board and push yourself off the snow, angling your body on whatever foot you'll be using to lead.

At this point you'll be perpendicular to the slope, so to turn yourself the right direction (and always with knees bent) use your rear knee to open yourself up. For example, if I'm riding down with my right foot first, I gently turn my left knee out to put weight on my right leg, planting it while leaning to my right and using the slope to carry me naturally downhill. There's always going to be a learning curve. An hour-long lesson can be seriously helpful in reteaching yourself some basics. Have fun!
posted by therewolf at 11:07 PM on January 31, 2011

Like a few have mentioned already, it's a combination of physical strength and confidence. The very first time I tried snowboarding I felt incredibly frustrated and HATED it because once I fell, I couldn't get up. Watching everyone else get up like it was nothing made me feel miserable, and I just thought the sport wasn't for me.

That was a few years ago. Since then I have gotten more in shape by doing other types of sports (a bit of krav maga and dragonboating), and I recently went to the mountain with some friends, and lo and behold, I was able to get up with little difficulty.

This time I had gained some strength in my abs, lower back, and better balance, combined with more confidence (it's partially a mental thing, like not being clobbered by the chairlifts).

So I would say to exercise a bit, whether it be crunches/situps/planks, or taking a slightly similar sport like surfing or skateboarding. Also don't be intimidated no matter how easily intimidating it might be. It takes a few tries for people. It is *not* uncommon to not be able to get up properly the first few times you get out there.

Just keep at it, and eventually you'll have enough strength/confidence to get up and you'll have even more fun sailing down the mountain. :)
posted by xtine at 11:41 PM on January 31, 2011

I used to suck at this too. To get up off your butt you need to get your center of gravity over the heelside edge. In order to do this the key is to BEND YOUR KNEES as much as you can and grab the toeside edge. If you just lean forward, your COG stays too far back. You really need to bring your knees almost up to your chest.

If you find this awkward, try spreading your knees at the same time, cowboy style, which will give you a bit more range if your flexibility is compromised (like mine).
posted by unSane at 4:44 AM on February 1, 2011

I've been snowboarding for almost 17 years. Started when I was 14. I never had any problem doing what you describe until about 29 (2 years ago). I'm now overweight by about 20 pounds and out of shape now and that's what I attribute it to.

Last year I felt like a whale on the slopes rolling over to get up toe side . . or I would just not sit down to strap in. . .

coincidentally I started doing some active cardio workouts (TaeBo) after never working out in my life, ever, and I noticed it's helped a bit this year (I can get up heel side again with some effort). I think the keys are ab, core and upper leg strength.
posted by patrad at 6:42 AM on February 1, 2011

Following everyone else - part of it is a fitness thing - it does get easier as you do it more. Part of it is also the angle of the slope - I've been riding for almost 20 years, and it's much harder to get up heelside on the bunny runs than it is on the black diamonds - steeper slopes simply require less effort to get up on.

Only other thing I can add is that when you get up, you need to commit fully - it's a coordinated thrust involving all parts of your body. Try and do it when you're at home on your floor (heck, strap in if you want, can't hurt). The board isn't what makes it hard, it's just the dynamics of what you're trying to accomplish.
posted by swngnmonk at 7:58 AM on February 1, 2011

Also, learn to strap in standing up! Back to the fall line, kick the board into the snow to create a little ledge, and you're done.
posted by unSane at 9:58 AM on February 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I realize I am a bit late here...

I instruct for an outreach program and have seen this struggle many, many times. This has all been described above, but sometimes a different phrasing helps it click.

Get your board perpendicular to the slope, it may help to kick your heels into the snow a couple of times to make a little ledge. Open your knees. Scoot your butt in as close to the board as possible. While maintaining pressure on your heelside edge, reach forward with your front hand (sometimes grabbing the toe edge helps) while pushing yourself up with the back hand.

Also, if you learn to transition from your toe edge into a heel edge turn then you can always get up on your toe edge. This is the path we usually take in instruction as that transition is a critical skill anyhow.

If you haven't already I would highly, highly recommend at least one lesson. Understanding the bio-mechanics of the whole thing will seriously hasten your progression. I was completely self taught for the first 10 years and would not wish it on anyone.
posted by Jibbity at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2011

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