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Reflex R-Style and back pain

MazdaMazda Posts: 16 Baller
I have tried twice to switch from back rubber boot to Reflex R-style while having front black reflex boot. I tried to switch because Andy Mapple suggested it and in both times the transition was easy and I felt the ski performed better (sharper turns, more angle into the wake) My problem is this: in both cases after several sets, my back would go into a severe spasm. first time as I was going out of the water, the second was after I finished skiing. My question is does skiing with an R-Style put more pressure on the lower back? Or were my spasms not related to R-Style switch? Any feedback is greatly appreciated, including tips for easier-on-the-back water starts, or suggestions to prevent back spasms in general will be greatly appreciated


  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,696 Mega Baller
    The trick to a deep water start with an iffy back is to really tighten your core as you come out of the water, and the trick to a tight core is to work on it in the gym.

    I’m not at all sure why, but I’m not a fan of a deep water start in an r style either. It always felt awkward coming out of the water. I tried one for several sets over the winter, both with a Super Shell and a regular black top Reflex and I just couldn’t get comfortable with either set up. If I had liked the binders, I’m sure I would have adapted to the starts, but I agree with you that something about the r style makes the get up awkward.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • 94009400 Posts: 625 Crazy Baller
    I’ve suffered back spasms for the last 6 years or so and have been through a variety of steps to correct it. If you can figure out the things that trigger it, I think you will be on the way to correcting things. Three things that I think helped me the most were glute exercises ( too much desk sitting), switch mattress ( 3 times, firm), finding the least resistance on my deep water starts ( basically Bend my knees so that my butt touches the rear of my back foot). Also don’t underestimate the shorts you are wearing, if they catch water, it will put a tremendous strain on the back. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to message me. I tried a bunch of different things such as massage therapy, Rolfing, acupuncture, chiropractor, etc, etc.
    Funny that you mentioned the R-style boot because I went to an Adam Caldwell built R-Style a few weeks ago (Also changed front boot). It is causing me to work through some stance comfort/control stuff but has not caused me any additional back trouble. As I said message me and I’ll answer anything I’ve been through. It sucks but it can probably be corrected, you just have to figure out the root or roots.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 915 Crazy Baller
    I 2nd the least resistance deep water starts. I've always used both feet in, even with an RTP (now HRT.) I can have back issues if I resist too much. As you hear the boat gas up, don't resist, allow the ski to compress into you so your butt touches the back heel as @9400 said. If I resist more in the legs I feel it in my back over a couple start ups. Work on your core in the gym....planks, planks, planks.
  • OscawanaSkierOscawanaSkier Posts: 70 Baller
    @Mazda, I have the same reflex setup. While I don’t think I felt worse back pain after switching, I think the above comments likely hold your solution. I too only ski in certain bathing suits with low resistance (don’t catch water in the legs), press knees tight together (less resistance on legs), and use that core, not just the low back.

    In terms of exercises, Google “McGill Big 3”. Developed by researcher and doctor Stuart McGill up in Canada. I’ve read multiple testimonials from people who say if you do at least these 3 exercises (curl ups, side planks, bird-dog) EVERY day (it’s about 20min) your core will be in much better shape. To @9400 point, I’ve added gute bridges to my daily routine as well (again too much desk sitting) - big difference! I’ve been doing these 4 exercises for a month and have never felt stronger!

    One interesting thing - through his research he says planks held more than 10sec aren’t helpful. Better to do multiple reps of 10sec holds.
  • lakeaustinskierlakeaustinskier Posts: 358 Solid Baller
    I also have a Rstyle rear - but no issues. Every exercise previously described is covered by doing yoga.
    Ted Thomson, Austin Texas, Aquaplex
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 322 Solid Baller
    edited April 2019
    When I switched from a full rear to a 1/2 rear (first the reflex R, and now the Radar HRT) I found I had to make adjustments to my deep water start as the first couple tries I kept pulling my rear foot out of the binding on the way up.

    Once up I found my position on the ski was different (for the better) as well. I suspect you are just using your muscles differently (not necessarily right or wrong) than before and your body needs to adjust.

    Do you feel like your fighting the boat on your start? The comment on baggy shorts is a good one, they can become a major drag on your body.
  • OldboyIIOldboyII Posts: 586 Solid Baller
    I cannot subscribe to idea that shorts could create any noticeable grag.
    Before was also thinking that way.
    But when I tried to create virtual model of how shorts behave during stars I found that there is nothing that may help shorts to hold parachute shape. Under water pressure it will either fold, or roll up on deform in any other way.
    Same like parachute without slings and weight below - it will be just another piece of cloth without any supportive effect.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,125 Mega Baller
    @OldboyII it's a real thing!

    Particularly if its elastic waistband
  • JmoskiJmoski Posts: 322 Solid Baller
    edited April 2019
    I find that long board shorts or bathing suits that come down to the knee and are loose fitting at the leg cuff can create a scoop underneath the back of my legs on take off that adds drag.

    I happen to have a few pairs that create this effect, hence I don’t ski in them anymore.
  • jimskijimski Posts: 471 Crazy Baller
    I guess a speedo is in order
  • Ed_JohnsonEd_Johnson Posts: 2,177
    Agree with some Board Shorts turning into an anchor. Went to Nike Compression Shorts and Love them.

    Been using R-Style for 3 years. I found that when you go to come out of the water, push the front boot "FORWARD" as you come up. Takes all the force off the rear foot and you can come up like a Baby !!!

    Special Thanks to Performance Ski and Surf and the Denali Adam's !!!
  • MikeTMikeT Posts: 73 Baller
    , Real glad to hear this conversation taking place. I run the New England Slalom Championship in Wolfeboro, NH, since 1988 and I have a background in competitive golf from back in high school. I brought the golf handicap format into our tournament years ago. I do 2 divisions which one is sort of an open AB division with a group of skiers that run into 35 off or higher and in golf terms, a gross score division or actual score. The rest of the skiers ski in the net division or handicap adjusted division. No more being the only one in your division. Like golf, handicapping makes it fun to ski against a large field, a chance for an actual prize or gift, no trophies for adults. I worked with Dave Allen to begin instituting a handicap system into WSTIMS. My partner Than B. constructed a spread sheet to pre-figure the handicap and make the adjustments and tally the scores during the tournament. We have our own parameters and formula to determine a fair baseline to figure the handicaps and it's proven to work very well with many years of data.
    I think all local C's should move to ABD's and make those tournaments more fun. I have heard and read about many interesting formats. It would be nice if everyone could put their heads together. Maybe a task force. We could potentially think about Handicap divisions at Nationals like Nastar which is wildly successful.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 915 Crazy Baller
    I wish I could "Like" and "off topic" the same post.....
  • MazdaMazda Posts: 16 Baller
    Thank you all for your helpful comments will work more to strengthen my core. There are much more important problems in the world, nevertheless, injuries that prevent waterskiing are never fun.
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,583 Mega Baller
    We I changed skies a few years ago my back started hurting. I read a thread on here about 4 way stretch shorts board shorts. I've had zero issues since. Deep water starts were painful before. I'm been using radar shorts last few years but any board shorts that say 4 way stretch will work as long as they're not too balloonie.
  • 94009400 Posts: 625 Crazy Baller
    I didn't touch on the things that didn't help on here but over the course of the last 6 or more years, planks (without the balance exercises) aggravated my situation. From the majority of my reading, weak glutes cause a bunch of issues with the back. I found a video on youtube from Athlean-X about lower back spasms that got me kick started and started giving me some relief. From there, once I learned a little more, I found a handful of exercises that work on the glutes and have had more recovery than I thought I was ever going to see again. Last August through October, I thought I might be done skiing forever,
    by the end of November, I was back skiing once a week and have picked it up to 3 times a week now. I get a little stiff here and there but for the most part, very few spasms (and the ones I do have, i can work out the glute stuff and it tends to fix them fairly quickly).
    I didn't want to discourage the planks because I think they will benefit a lot of people (me included), but if you have a desk job, the glute work will help you. For the record, my back spasms were not just lower back, they seemed to migrate to various muscles throughout the back. However, it was when the lower back got really bad that I had to shut down skiing completely.
    @ScottScott had a much better description of the deep water start that I employ.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 2,696 Mega Baller
    Squats and dead lifts are really good exercises for skiers. In fact if you only did two things, squats and dead lifts would be the way to go, in my opinion. On the other hand, technique is really important, so don’t go pulling a lot of weight without someone helping you with your form.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 630 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited April 2019
    There is a massive correlation with foot spread and back issues for reasons that may not be so obvious.

    People (and I was in this mindset for years) that bigger foot spread is better because it offers more balance. I have since found so major performance loses from having your feet spread way apart.

    I’ll try to make a quick video to explain in more detail. But, typically , the R style is going to first push your feet further apart because of the proximity issues with the release mechanism on the front foot.

    Also, the second issue, is that unless the upper plastic on the R/style rear is modified, your back ankle will have too much control over the ski. An effect that is counter productive to what your front foot is doing. This issue is exacerbated by wider foot spread that demands more rear ankle flex in certain conditions.

    This can act to dramatically upset the attitude of the ski in some critical areas. Sure, maybe you have more angle, but it’s possible your consistently taking more micro hits due to a stall on the back of the ball, or, from just not being able to get the tip in the water on before apex.

    The way the forces play out, a stock r-/style will block the ski from moving under you naturally, and cause your hips to fall back off the second wake due to the fact your back ankle cannot articulate enough coming through the second wake.

    The upper plastic on the base of a rear shell that is in front of your ankle is the root cause for the issues. The plastic in the reflex products is very stiff compared to the HO/Goode.

  • Steven_HainesSteven_Haines Posts: 1,044 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @adamhcaldwell, what are your thoughts on the Radar HRT Boa? I’m trying to make the change from a rear hard shell (loosely fitted) this year. I’m hoping that it will help my mobility especially hip mobility. One thing that I like already is that I was able to get my toes closer to my front boot, almost touching.
  • GolsonGolson Posts: 24 Baller
    Wow! @adamhcaldwell is the same true for double Powershells? I was considering going to a toe loop or double Powershells to avoid feeling what you explaining with my R style.
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 633 Water Ski Industry Professional
    edited April 2019
    @Golson after many years in double hardshell boots I switched to a very low cut rear half boot. I quickly found exactly what Adam described to be true. All my different versions of rear boot are very low cut and flexible.

    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 4,125 Mega Baller
    @adamhcaldwell do you feel a need to accommodate RTP to front binding effective height? Essentially does the liner, shell, various bedding techniques etc. cause an issue.

    You mentioned Mapple's RTP but he also famously cut out the base of his liners in the reflex boot, and previous to that I believe he cut out the bottom of the front binder as well.

    Concern or no real problem?
  • OscawanaSkierOscawanaSkier Posts: 70 Baller
    @adamhcaldwell Your rear tow plate setup seems worth trying. Thanks for sharing! I would normally order an XL (size 12 shoe). Do I need to upsize, or order the Wiley spare parts (rear toe rubber and overlay) in order to move the rubber loop back on the plate and not have it be too tight to get my foot that far in?

    Also, will any old grip tape work (many available on Amazon it seems)? Thanks again!
  • ghutchghutch Posts: 124 Baller
    Caldwell? Caldwell? How about some help here.
  • C5QuestC5Quest Posts: 313 Baller
    Calling @adamhcaldwell. Same type of question as @OscawanaSkier .
    Can u post a pic of your RTP. Might switch to a Wiley RTP and wonder if I should go size up to fit while foot in. If you just move the toe loop back it seems it would just move your foot back on the plate increasing separation from the front, not allowing to get entire foot wedged up into the loop as explained. What am I missing? Sorry for the stupid question. Just trying to make sense of it all
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 633 Water Ski Industry Professional
    edited May 2019
    @OscawanaSkier the grip tape to use is 3M Safety Walk, can be found on Amazon in various sizes.

    I also use this grip tape inside my hardshell boots to control movement of the liner. I use a very tight fitting liner to control movement of my foot. I tried the bottomless liner but did not like the rough feel on my skin, but studies show that barefoot gives the best feel for balance.
    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • brettmainerbrettmainer Posts: 273 Crazy Baller
    I was unable to ski for a week+ due to lower back pain from deep water starts. I’ve had lower back problems on and off for 15yrs, but never had a problem with deep water starts before. R style, for some reason I can’t explain, does seem to put more pressure on the back. I was signed up to ski a tournament this weekend and was nervous I’d ski one pass and be done. I read this thread and tried the “flex the abs as hard as I could during the start”. No back pain! Four passes for both rounds = 8 starts. No pain! It works. I highly recommend others with this problem try this technique.
  • DirtDirt Posts: 1,618 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited June 2019
    I tried the R style rear binding a few years ago and hated it. It loaded up my rear ankle to the point I felt I might get hurt. I think it would be better if you cut it way down.
    I learned everything I know not to do from Horton
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