jo skates

Skating in the key of life

Complicated feet


Did you know that one-quarter of all the bones in my body are in my feet? And that my each of my feet contains more than 25 bones, 30 joints, and 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments?

I had no idea I was so complicated!

While the multitudinous anatomical aspects of my feet and ankles are awe-inspiring, some are also presenting major obstacles in my road to skating glory. On my left side, I continue to have some foot pain at the ball of the foot and tightness around the ankle. On the right side I have limited range of motion: when I try to point my toe, I have to work really hard and there are some strange clicking and popping noises that make my ankle feel like a ratchet socket wrench.

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly where these things happen (first metatarsophalangeal joint? around the navicular bone?) and why, but as I said, my feet are complicated. Looking at all those different diagrams of foot and ankle anatomy can be quite daunting. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I just need some basic principles to follow. Rather than trying to put Dumpty back together again (or identifying pieces of Dumpty), I’ll just imagine the egg-shape and go from there.

One goal is to retrain my walking and skating patterns so that I am more balanced evenly over my feet. On my left side, I tend to walk on the outside of my foot (avoiding that sore ball of the foot, no doubt). Similarly, I have to work on making sure I am using my entire foot actively while skating. It takes some remembering to engage the skating ankle and foot to get the best glide, and to prepare myself so that I don’t just flop (or pound) onto the new foot when I transfer my weight. I have been working on this in my turns as well (trying to initiate the turn with foot and ankle pressure, rather than with the rest of my body).

Another is to continue with my off-ice regime of exercises, like my steady diet of calf raises, toe pointing and swiping (I found a really good video of these by Maryann Berry), and short feet. I need to be more mindful of my ankle and foot alignment and movement when I do other exercises, like my single leg deadlift.

With both goals, I need to be patient. Like my hip issues, progress on my complicated feet is going to take a while. The good thing is that learning to use my feet and ankles properly is going to make a world of difference in my skating. It’s like discovering a whole new set of tools (25+ bones, 30+ joints, and 100+ muscles, tendons, and ligaments) that I can use in addition to my ratchet socket wrench ankle!

Lesson notes:

  • cross rolls. Again, do these slowly: stop with feet parallel, turn free toe in, then push and cross.
  • your push creates the extension. Count those pushes in the Paso!
  • back progressives. Back inside push is better but think of sending weight back to outside edge and continuing to load the new foot rather than rising. Free leg extends assertively to counter balance force backwards. Work on toe point and getting free foot parallel to ice on right foot; it’s okay to bend knee slightly to compensate. Arms really hugging circle (forward arm in front).

Okay, fun picture time. Here’s Janey on her first day back on the ice in a while. It’s so awesome to see her!



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 “Complicated feet

  1. Ah, patience. It sounds so easy yet it seems like the hardest thing to do when you want to do all the elements already!! 🙂


  2. Total agreement on my end, Eva! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s