jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Wake the sleeping muscles


There have been a number of recent remakes of “Cinderella” that I haven’t seen yet (been too busy skating). But reading about them makes me think about how this familiar story is not only about fairy godmothers, evil step-sisters, a glass slipper (and oh, yes, a love-smitten prince–almost forgot about him) but also about the question of how one gets out of the dirty work.

Cinderella’s real happy ending isn’t just ending up with the Prince or being able to flaunt this success in front of her step-sisters (who felt they were just a few shoes sizes away from victory), but importantly, her getting out of doing a life of grunt work. The problem is that this basic work–cleaning, cooking, keeping others fed and dressed for success–doesn’t really ever go away. The fairy godmother simply whisks Cinderella away from it all in a repurposed pumpkin and mouse-fueled coach and la di da.

There is nothing in the story about who is going to fill in at the end and do the work that she no longer does. You know, the stuff in the trenches that makes you tired and sore and sweaty. Like all those adductor and glute exercises, and the core abdominal work, and the foot exercises. Or that underpush in progressives, or maybe these endless three-step mohawk patterns, or that entire laundry list of things that go on and on and on . . .

Can somebody please just wave that wand so that I can just spend my time dancing at the ball? Where’s my sequined dress? Oooh, getting anxious about midnight approaching. . . brain cortisol levels rising. . .

Okay, Cinderella’s just not going to cut it here. Maybe “Sleeping Beauty” is a little better, insofar that the point is to wake the heroine up, not to suggest that a magic makeover will rescue her from a life of repetitive European Waltz patterns drudgery.

So I’ve been hearing a lot from PT Sarah about how I need to “wake up” my left side muscles. I had a lesson today that focused on back and head positions in my basic warmup moves and edges. I told Laurie about the “elevator” exercises that I’ve been doing. This is when you imagine your spine from the base up as a set of elevator levels.  You begin at the bottom, imagining the door shutting and the car lifting to the next. You work your way up the spine, shutting the doors at each level to access and contract the muscles that support your back.

Eva, another skating blogger, asked after reading my last post whether there might be exercises that one could do sitting–I tried doing the back-elevator one today at my desk and it seems to work really well to correct slouching. Not magic, since you need to concentrate on thinking about that imaginary elevator and the different doors. Close and lift, close and lift. Close and lift again.

It also seems to serve as a diagnostic, since I feel a lot more muscles stretching on my left side, especially where the hip misalignment has made my back pooch out.


The upshot is that I have more muscles to wake up on the left side: not just my core abs, glutes, and adductors, but muscles in the back, side, neck, and arms.  Laurie had me shift my weight slightly left and move my head and everything felt completely different again.

The good news is that these exercises (today we did just forward outside edges, swizzles, power pulls, back outside edges) are very familiar now so I can focus on what different muscles are doing or not doing.

The bad news is that it will take more than a kiss from a prince. Or a magic wand.

Elevator going up!

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 “Wake the sleeping muscles

  1. One might also call basic skating skills as “dirty work.” Skaters often want to go straight to the glorious stuff – spins, jumps, fancy footwork. But knowing how to do all the basic skills is what makes those other elements go better. Thanks also for the hints on exercises I can do at work while sitting in my chair. Will have to remember to do them every day!


  2. You are so right, Eva. Hope the exercises work for you–I really like the elevator one!


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