Most winters in the past I have tended not to think a lot about my feet, since most of the time they are encased in boots, thick fuzzy socks, or warm slippers. And when I’m skating, it’s been lace ’em up and forget about them.
That all changed a few years when I started developing a constant pain in my left foot and realized that I needed to do something about it. This was nearly four years ago and it has initiated an ongoing process involving a lot of PT and research about better ways to move and skate. Some of what I’ve discovered involving the feet is very sobering: for instance, a 2008 article in N.Y. Magazine about how walking in poorly-designed shoes (meaning most of them) affects foot alignment. Ack!
I don’t even want to think about how this applies to skates. Fingers in ears! Lalalalalala–I hear nothing!
Okay, I’ll just go to my happy skating place. As you know, I’ve been doing lots of off-ice exercises targeting different muscles; these include foot and ankle exercises and stretches that have increased both my strength and mobility. In addition to calf raises, short feet, and “the wave”, I have just added several more exercises for my feet (plus a fourth video that explains some of the alignment issues that I think have affected my left foot in particular).
I just started doing these this week, but I feel like they are already making a difference.
Okay, time for the twist (literally). Early January also finds me spending a few minutes a day on a fairly inexpensive twist board. This seems to be helping me rotate my core much more readily, which really helps with skating.
Plus, it’s super fun, especially with Chubby Checker playing in my head.
It’s supposed to warm up this weekend, thank goodness. Not warm enough to go barefoot in the park, but maybe by the time it is my feet will be super strong! And we can twist again, like we did last summer.
- back crossovers. Use a comfortable rather than exaggerated core position (rotated into the circle, head over sternum). Knee bend will allow for the outside edge push.
- inside loops. Practice arm positions and getting a real loop shape going (even if you have to use two feet).
- outside loops. Use enough core twist (dog chasing its tail).
- “creeper”: forward outside three, inside-outside change edge (draw foot in, then free foot forward), back outside three, toe push to repeat on other side.
- same thing, only add a mohawk step forward after the back outside three.
- inside mohawk, push back to back outside three, forward inside three, back cross stroke, back inside three, repeat. I’m not actually sure if this sequence is correct or if I conveniently forgot it, since I got stuck on just trying to do the cross stroke correctly without pitching forward.
- forward chassé, forward swing. Accelerate on the swing, head up, and hips forward (rather than breaking forward at the waist).
- forward swing, change edge, mohawk, step forward and repeat on other side. Don’t lift free hip too high!