There are lots of online resources out there for folks with misalignment issues. I have not found all that much that is specific to figure skating: most of the athletics discussion seems geared towards runners and weightlifters. Dancers, however, have a lot to say about the topic. I just discovered the blog of Monika Volkmar, a dancer-turned-trainer, on her website “The Dance Training Project.” There is a lot of useful information on dancing and training wisely that is very applicable to skaters. Plus, her posts are both inspirational and funny.
I am still reading her posts from the past few years, but so far two of her posts really resonated with me. They are worth reading their entirety, so I’ll just give a glimpse of them.
One post, called “Do You Even Shift?” is fairly recent and the second part of a series called “Dance Like a Human” (don’t you just love it?). It deals with the importance of learning how to shift your pelvis from side to side in a smooth and efficient way. While this may not seem to some like the most scintillating topic, what she writes is riveting for those of us who have to live with the after-effects of years of inhibited shifting. Basically, if you don’t shift properly on the frontal plane, you develop all kinds of compensatory patterns. I found myself screaming (to myself, so I don’t scare the kids) as I was reading, “That’s me! That’s me! That’s me again!”
Yes, that’s me, Ms. I-Have-Trouble-Transferring-My-Weight-From-One-Skate-To-Another.
The other post, “3 Mindset Changes You Must Adopt to Succeed in Dance,” is more about developing an overall productive and healthy attitude towards dance. She talks about building a “growth mindset” that emphasizes practicing deeply at the very edge of one’s abilities (something that entails making a lot of mistakes in the process). She urges the importance of feeling “sufficient” in ourselves rather than falling into wishing we had “more” (let’s see–longer legs? triple axel?) Not feeling content with being ourselves leads to tension and frustration and even physical problems. Finally, she discusses the value of seeing two sides of a situation: to see a problem as a challenge, rest as a form of training, and negative outcomes as opportunities to learn and grow.
This last mindset seems to be something I keep returning to. Volkmar describes a particularly good way to think of injuries:
An injury can be seen in the present moment as a set-back causing us to fester into a nasty depression, or it can be seen as an opportunity to learn how to become stronger, better, and prevent the same injury from happening again. Injuries also teach you about yourself and reflect how you react in the face of adversity. Injuries are opportunities to become stronger than before, and to remove a glitch from your movement patterning that caused you to become injured in the first place.
This is not about denying the pain and anger that come as a result of unfortunate events, or to say that the “why me?” reaction isn’t natural. But in most cases (for us lucky ones) some of the aftermath is up to us to determine.
I had a teacher who once put it this way: “Bad things can make you bitter. Or they can make you better.”
I am still skating. I can still be better. Hooray!
And thanks to the Dance Training Project, I have some fun reading to do.
April 11, 2016 at 8:25 am
I love the comments about injuries – so true that they can help you identify your weak spots so you can become stronger going forward. And your teacher’s quotation about becoming better is something we should definitely remember rather than being bitter.
April 11, 2016 at 9:15 am
Thanks, Eva. I wish we could go through life (or at least through skating life) injury-free, but it really seems to be part of the game. so the attitude adjustment is a good way to cope with it.
April 11, 2016 at 8:26 am
Hey Jo 🙂 THANK YOU for this delightful shout out 🙂 I am so happy that my writing has resonated with you. Best of luck with the lateral movement exploration. Sending shifty vibes your way from up here in Canada.
April 11, 2016 at 9:18 am
Monika, thank you so much for your wonderful blog. Count me in as a fan (I had to tear myself away from trying to figure out “what kind of dancer (skater) I am” (http://danceproject.ca/are-you-surviving-dance/#.VwuVxsf5yRs) to go to work this morning. And I was so pleased to hear you mention Sarah Petrich, since I am lucky enough to be working with her on some of these issues. Hi to Canada (home of my ice dance favorites Scott and Tessa)!