jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Core values


Let’s start with a little music today: Schubert’s Piano Trio in B flat Major. I particularly like the second movement, which opens with a beautiful cello melody. Here’s a video from some years back with the Beaux Arts trio (this will start with the second movement if you click on it).

So serene! Andante un poco mosso. Perfect contrast to the hustle and bustle of life these days.

The hustle and bustle includes some heavy duty work on some of my core muscles. Some of my left side balance issues actually have to do with various abdominal muscles that I haven’t been activating. I’m just going to review this while the Schubert is having its calming effect.

To begin with, here’s the picture of my hip misalignment (figure on the left).


You’ll notice that the bottom part of the left torso is bowed out to the left. As part of my overall rehab, PT Sarah is having me concentrate on firing up those muscles that push or hold that lower back and side in place. We talk a lot about my scrunching up the left side, or if I’m lying on my left side doing those endless clamshell-type exercises, creating a little “mouse cave” so that those muscles are activated.

If I knew a little more about anatomy, I would be able to identify which muscles those are (obliques, rectus abdominus,transverse abdominus, whatchacallit abominable). But from the little that I do know, they all need to work in order to create successful movements both forward and back and side to side. Even if my muscles are not as clearly defined as they could be, they still can help me out.

Wow, that is one distracting image. What was I saying?

The most important thing to remember for skating’s sake is that these side and core muscles help support the edge. I’ve been concentrating so much on balancing over my hip that I haven’t been thinking about what happens above the hips.

The engagement of all these muscles is not always easy to see. If you look at this picture of Davis and White, for example, you may not notice how the strength of their left sides counterbalances the force of their free sides coming through. It’s all too easy to become absorbed by the way that Meryl’s skirt and Charlie’s tails flip up in exactly the same way. Or to fixate on Charlie’s pointing finger (well, at least it’s the index finger).


At any rate, I’ve been trying to be more aware of using these neglected muscles on the ice. I got some warmup exercises that involve just shifting and twisting the ribcage to get some more mobility. And I’ve been working on these muscles while doing my various edges. Even if the skating’s not perfect, at least I am getting a core workout in the process.

Lesson notes:

  • Alternating half progressive (outer, inner), quick inner to switch directions. Make this deep, and lean into free leg to improve extension.
  • Half progressive change edge (foot comes in, then out). Again, deep and even lobes.
  • Three step mohawk pattern with extension. Pass through middle position with turnout, then push into edge to extend fully (straight skating leg). Lean in direction of free leg so you stay over your blade.
  • Do this with three turns instead of mohawks.
  • Alternate chassés with this same exercise (mohawk or three turn to full extension).
  • Inside three, step forward, cross, repeat on other side.
  • Double threes, forwards and backward. Foot remains in back. Check which part of the blade you are on. If you are wobbling back and forwards on the blade, you need to keep your hips centered right over the blade. Take your time with the turn: establish the edge before rotating shoulders, then turn.

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 “Core values

  1. I am having SO MUCH TROUBLE with double threes keeping the leg behind. My shoulders droop, and then I lose the edge and have to cheat. Ice dancers make it look so easy!


  2. Me too, Eva. It takes a lot of patience not to rush the turning part–and ankle control to stay on the correct part of my foot. And trying to keep my shoulders neutral–argggh!


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