Ski binding settings are crucially important for your safety and the avoidance of injury. Every year more information comes to light on ski injuries and the contributory causes.
Some years ago I brought to readers' attention a study the French had made into optimal binding settings for recreational skiers. Crudely put it suggested that fewer injuries occur – at least to anterior cruciate knee ligaments – when slightly lower settings are employed.
With the advent of the AFNOR settings there is now a choice between those and the longer-established DIN settings, which in many cases are slightly higher. What that means is that for the binding to release they have to be put under a greater load.
Your bindings are your first line of defence against serious injury, but they are not fool proof. Even when correctly set they only reduce the chance of injury. Improperly set, they may well increase it. The idea behind ski bindings is that they will stay closed and gripping your boots up to a point where if they didn't release there would be a considerable danger of damage to your knee joints.
I repeatedly advise that you get to know your own correct setting. You don't necessarily need to know how to set them, you may prefer a ski shop to do it – but don't trust them to do it correctly.
NOTE: Where it says on their chart “Sole width in mm, it should read sole length”.
Remember also that because the load received by the bindings is also a function of speed; so if you really prefer to ski quite slowly (and what's wrong with that! ) you might even consider a slightly lower setting. Don't forget no small number of knee injuries occur when folk just fall over while static!
The shop will more than likely set them correctly, and they will certainly know how to: the problems arise when they guess your weight or your height, or they're just so busy at the time that the job doesn't get done right. I once had a pupil whom I had taught how to check them and when she came out of the hire shop we found that every one of the four bindings had a different setting, and not one of them was correct! The other problem is that if they set them wrongly, you take a fall and get injured, you will have the devil of job proving they got it wrong!
Take note though, if you are going to ski extremely steep terrain, or off piste where the snow condition can vary so much and the time spent trying to find a ski that's come off can simply exhaust you – it may be a reasonable trade-off to temporarily increase the reading. It happened to me once descending toward the Argentiere glacier – both skis detached and I became a sled destined for a crevasse. A friend stopped me thank goodness but a higher binding setting would have been a fair exchange for that risk!
Here is a link to a most interesting article by an American surgeon who spends much of his time repairing skiers' anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries!
This surgeon makes another interesting observation on how poor skiing technique can have serious consequences. Read either of my books or check out my free Youtube channel and you will see me repeatedly asking you to make sure you flex your ankles more, and ensure you incline your back and torso forward at all times.
This surgeon observes that skiers who “sit back”, who have their weight on their ski tails, or who ski too upright, run a higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament injury than those with better and more consistent technique that leads to having one's back inclined forward to help ensure that you have more control over your ski tips.
If nothing else gets you to adopt this posture the higher ACL injury risk should do it!
Happy Skiing Folks!
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