Heel riser height influence on kinematics and muscle activity of ski mountaineering – A field based study

  • Daniel Turczyn Montana State University
  • David Graham Department of Health & Human Development, Montana State University
  • Michael Lasshofer Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology, University of Salzburg
  • John Seifert
Keywords: interaction, sports equipment, winter sports, ski mountaineering, riser hight, glide distance



The ski binding plays an important role in ski mountaineering. When traveling uphill, the binding has an adjustable heel height known as the riser. Previous laboratory research reported joint kinematics and kinetics are influenced by riser height, however little is known about changes to muscle activity associated with differing joint motion. The purpose of this work was to assess riser height influence on kinematics and muscle activity at different slopes during on-snow skiing.


Three female and nine male recreational ski mountaineers (19-26 y) were tested on 5o and 16o gradients using no riser (0 cm) and riser (5.3 cm) at a submaximal 80% HRmax. Each subject used Backland 85 UL skis and Backland Bindings (Atomic Skis, Altenmarkt, Austria). Subjects skied for 6 min at each binding setting with the last 10 gait-cycles evaluating lower limb joint motion gathered from 2D-sagittal plane motion capture. Electromyography (EMG) collected unilaterally on the rectus femoris, biceps femoris, medial gastrocnemius and triceps brachii also.


5o slope: hip range of motion (ROM) decreased (p = .003), ankle ROM decreased (p = .005), stride length decreased (p = .004), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) increased (p = .02) for riser compared to no riser. At 16o slope: hip ROM decreased (p = .001), and RPE decreased (p = .004) for riser compared to no riser. HR, glide distance, velocity, EMG, and net mechanical efficiency were not different between riser heights on either slope.


Lower body joint kinematics, step length and RPE varied significantly with riser height. Kinematic differences did not impact velocity or muscle activity when controlling pace. These results agree with previous findings showing minimal differences in EMG and HR while lower body kinematics and RPE changed with riser height.

How to Cite
Turczyn, D., Graham, D., Lasshofer, M., & John Seifert. (2024). Heel riser height influence on kinematics and muscle activity of ski mountaineering – A field based study. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 9(3), 005. https://doi.org/10.36950/2024.3ciss005