jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Constant vigilance!


Arrgghhh, it’s snowing outside! This is not unusual for Minnesota, but we’ve had such a warm and protracted fall that I think I just forgot.

The cold and wet weather is making my body a little achy. Actually, what’s making me achy is working on my skating pushes. Laurie has been trying to get me to really sink down on the inside edge, really bend the ankle, and really use the pushing foot. I have been half-heartedly going through the motions and releasing early, rather than bending my ankle down right over the foot.

Load and explode, she says. Practicing this both forwards and backwards made me realize that I was still not quite balanced on my left foot. I was still allowing my left hip to stick out of the circle. Double arrghhhh!


The result was that when I did get a good push, I literally pushed myself off balance, with my new hip absorbing some of the force by moving sideways. And then I tried to re-balance by moving my left arm and shoulder forwards, which made things even worse.

Even worse was the push backwards. My left back outside edges were just not stable. I was still sticking my hip out and compensating by moving my torso forwards. Warning, warning, danger, danger. . .

But I think I figured out something that will help. I’ve been doing a particular exercise off the ice in which I sit back against the wall, but don’t have my knees bent as deeply as in the standard “wall sit” exercise. I put my weight into my heels, then I pull my arms forward one at a time to stretch out the part of my back between the shoulder blades.

I tried doing this exercise while standing on my left leg. I felt off balance until I shifted the base of my spine slightly left. Wow, that felt great! I could really feel my weight on the left heel. It was clear that I hadn’t really been balanced on that side before, since everything felt different. I could really feel the glutes working and all kinds of muscles stretching on top as well.

Then I tried this small shift–just the base of the spine slightly towards the left side–on the ice and it helped a lot with my stability. Everything was in a slightly different and better position.

So the bad news is that there is no easy fix for my misalignment issues: I have to keep working on this left side shuffle. (I keep finding variations on this theme, though. Same old problem, but maybe if I call it something different, like “Trendelenburg gait,” I will feel like I am making progress.)

The good news is that I can work on this balancing exercise almost anywhere. All I need is something to lean back against and a causal attitude so no one knows I’m trying to shift my spine over. I can hang out on street corners and look for trouble. As if I didn’t have enough!

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 “Constant vigilance!

  1. Love the “load and explode” comment from Laurie!


  2. Yes, she has great ways of getting us to do things!


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