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Ski Poles that improve performance
By Sam morishima

US Ski Team members Tom Rothrock (Slalom racer) and Dane Spencer (Giant Slalom Racer) prepare for another practice run down the mountain. These two future USA hopefuls are practicing with something no other skier has practiced with before to help improve their skiing performance. As they grasp their poles their hands wrap around a specially made grip handle.  Pushing off from the starting gate their fingers close down on the molded hand piece - the thumb bearing down on the grips ledge and the little finger and index wrapping tightly around a narrow waist that feels ergonomically natural for them.   Rothrock and Spencerís ski poles are equipped with a new style handgrip from BioGrip company called e3. 

 The handgrip enhances the skierís balance and stability through the hands natural grip by aligning and balancing several muscle groups throughout the body, increasing the athletes agility, speed and strength while reducing strain.

The e3 grips works on the basic principle of stabilizing the shoulders, back and hips with the underlying premise that the human body is an interactive physical structure of multiple interlinking components, rather than a collection of isolated body parts attached to a central longitudinal frame.   The e3 grips help modify mechanical behavior throughout the body by placing the shoulder and hip girdles in more inherently stable positions and the axial skeleton in a balanced vertical alignment.  The results of these important changes are more efficient muscle use that improves balance, mobility, and strength.

 The grips without the poles are also being used for balance training in the hands of top snowboarders Mike and Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn to help fine tune their balance. Jasey-Jay Anderson 5x Crystal Globe Overall Champion in snowboarding has been using the grips to improve his balance for over six years.

Does it really work? Can just the way you position your handís grip make such a significant difference in the performance of your skiing and snowboarding?  Hand position has been an important aspect in martial arts delivering rapid and powerful blows from a stable base stance.  In fact the idea of the hand position originated from studying the martial arts.

 Iíve used the e3 grips with my students in my ski and snowboard lessons to help them position properly over the skis and snowboards for the development of intricate movements.  The students perform and improve faster and develop the movements in a more relaxed and comfortable way compared to those not using the grips.  A noticeable improvement is the balancing and holding of the skisís edge when the student uses the e3 grips.   I currently ski with the e3 grip poles and have noticed that I tire less using them.  

 The e3 has been used previously in other sports, especially running.  Dean Brittenham, who recently retired from the Shiley Elite Athletic Excellence Health Resource Center at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, stated, "I saw immediate and dramatic improvements in the running form and agility in the athletes using the e3 grips. I believe the e3 grips are a major breakthrough in improving athletic performance." Beth Alford-Sullivan, former Women's Coordinator of Cross Country Track and Field, Stanford University, noted after a demonstration that the runners using the grips, "showed immediate improvement in each athlete's running form and stride." Peter Maher, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Marathoner, said that, "After using the e3 regularly, I have developed a far more relaxed and injury-free running form." Peter also indicated that the soreness he was experiencing in his hips disappeared.

 Olympian and American womanís discus record holder Suzy Powell practices her discus throwing using the grips and has broken her own record. Suzy remarked "By using the e3 grips and principles in my training, I have witnessed remarkable improvements...  As I prepare for my third Olympic team in 2004, I know the grips and my improved biomechanics will give me a competitive advantage."

 The inventor of these hand orthotics is Stephen Tamaribuchi one of the nation's top consultants for prevention of repetitive strain injuries.  The e3 grip technology is a result of twenty years experience in the field of human biomechanics, working with both sports athletes and "corporate athletes" suffering from repetitive stress injuries.  He realized that hand position could help people and athletes properly maximize their workouts and strengthen the proper muscles for various activities.  I was fortunate to meet Stephen at the time he was beginning to work on placing the grips onto ski poles.  He personally made me one of the first e3 ski poles to try.  Since, that time it is the only pole I prefer to use. 

As a consultant he works with athletes improving their performance through optimal biomechanics.  He has helped both athletes and non-athletes to improve how they use their muscles to perform various activities from typing to sprinting.  Beside the athletic use the grips are locally used by Medical Professionals at Radiological Associates (RAS) in all of their imaging and treatment rooms as well as the Sutter and Mercy Cancer treatment centers.

 When I asked Stephen why he developed the e3 he stated: "My hope is that the e3 grip will allow people of all ages and physical condition to perform better in sports and daily activities. I particularly want to help people who are suffering from joint, balance, and mobility problems. I believe the e3 can significantly improve their quality of life."

 By the way Per Lundstam Men's conditioning coach and assistant in Men's GS and Downhill was so grateful to Stephen that he gave him one of Bode Millerís slalom skis that he had won a race with.  Now when I ski with Stephen he leaves me so far behind that Iím glad that he has the courteous of waiting for me at the lift lines.  I swear those skis of Bodeís has wings.  The interesting thing is Stephen is so well balanced he makes optimal use of those lightening boards of Bodeís.  Guess whatís in the palm of Stephenís hand?  e3!