jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Let me count the ways


I found a video of the eccentric foot/ankle exercises I’ve been doing for my tendinosis, and as it turns out the exercise has a cool name: manual dorsiflexion.

Since January 7, I have been doing these 15 times per set, three sets per session, three times a day. That makes 405 times each day, for the past 33 days. 13365 so far, 36450 if I do the total three months as suggested. I’m going to be really good at it by the time I’m done, though “good” will be hard to assess unless you count the ways that I can now do this at meetings underneath the conference table without anyone catching on.

Skating is full of such repetitions, which we can think of as a kind of devotional practice. The numbers are fun to play with, but we all know it’s not about the numbers.

How do I love three turns? Let me count the ways.

I have actually done a few good three turns (not just “sort of” but “yes, that’s it” three turns) in the past few days. This means starting with a good edge, rising to feet together, turning by picking up the heel rather than leaning into the circle, and lowering on the inside edge to place the new foot down rather than falling onto the new foot.

How many of these good threes do I have to do to make up for the ones where I have fallen into and out of the circle or had a bent free leg or used my free side to fling myself around (fun, but wrong)? Let’s see, maybe if I do 50 each session, 250 each week (if I’m lucky enough to skate that much), 1000 each month. . .

This feels a little daunting. Okay, how about I don’t try to keep count, but just work on the general principle of doing as many correct ones as I can? I’ll have to figure out a way to think about this without getting hung up on the numbers. (It’s like getting older: how meaningful are those numbers, really?)

I got some more footwork exercises this week, thanks to Ari’s endless creativity. I think the idea behind this to vary the sequence of edges and turns so that I develop some facility in putting different combinations together, like traveling sequences in ballet class (which I was never very good at!) Here’s the list:

  • Three turn, push back onto outer back edge, outside back three (at top of circle). Don’t extend out of the three, but stroke push immediately onto an outside edge, then cross stroke (don’t forget to rise and bend).  Repeat on other side. I think you can do this with inside threes too, but I asked politely to be excused from inside threes this week.
  • Women’s European Waltz pattern without the end pattern. Everything (the transitions between outside edges, the post-three turn moment) has to have an inside edge bend in it, and an actual push from that inside edge. Yo, not a faux-push!
  • Tuck behind, inside mohawk, push back onto outside edge, then step forward, cross stroke and repeat on other side.
  • Double threes with cross stroke in between (without that rise and bend in the cross stroke, you are dead in the water).
  • Back crossover, change edge (feet come together), back cross stroke (I got this last week and really like it now).
  • Alternating back cross strokes (like in the Blues) with the emphasis on doing real inside edges.

The big posture issue for this week is to keep my left side in a workable position by using back and upper legs muscles as well as my glutes. I realized last week when I was looking at the picture of Irina Moiseeva from a couple of posts ago that she not only had her hip underneath her, but a much more pronounced arch in her lower back than I have been allowing myself. I realized that I was trying to keep my left hip underneath me by trying to do a kind of “posterior pelvic tilt” to correct for my “anterior pelvic tilt.”


This made it really difficult to skate with any knee bend. Instead of thinking of pushing the hip forward by tensing my glute muscles, I’ve been thinking about keeping a natural amount of lumbar curve in my spine. This seems to help a lot.


I’ll report back later on this change, which seems like one (or more) step(s) in the right direction. But who’s counting?

Author: Joskates

Don't see me on the ice? I may be in the classroom or at the theater, or hanging out with my family and friends.

2 thoughts on “Let me count the ways

  1. You are so right that our sport is all about repetition. Those that watch full skating programs have no idea how many times we have to practice each individual element or transition until it gets ingrained in our muscle memory!


  2. So true, Eva. Every repetition is necessary to make it look like magic when you perform!


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