jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Bruised but unbroken

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I was really excited this week to know that two of my skating friends, Kari and Michele, have finally returned to the ice. Hooray!!!

Heeeere’s Michele! Rested, mostly recuperated, and ready to go!

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My bruises are nothing compared to the medical issues and injuries other folks have faced. All I need right now is a little TLC, rest, and some patience. I am still having some trouble bending my left leg (yesterday it took me 15 minutes to get that skate on!) and I think it will be a while before the bruises on my backside, leg, and (gulp!) behind the knee don’t look so scary and are not so tender.

On the positive side, I now know exactly where my left hip is, because there’s pain there now. I can immediately tell which muscles to engage (the ones that hurt) and the sensitivity makes me much more aware of how my left hip is positioned over my skates. It’s remarkable how your proprioception can improves with injury (not that I want to smash my leg into the ice on a regular basis, but hey, I’m trying to salvage this).

At my lesson today, Ari pointed out a number of instances in which I am sticking my left hip out (back or sideways), and I could immediately tell what was wrong. As a result, I think I actually had my hips underneath me (deep breath!) some of the time! So exciting! Here’s what we worked on, and some of the things I learned.

  • Perimeter stroking. I need to have deeper lobes overall, and not bend forward. But I was mostly concerned with the inside-inside push. The problem is making sure that I keep my toes turned out on the push (turn out the feet more than the hips).
  • We also worked on something related: inside-inside swing rolls. Here I could see how much I rush that push, letting my body flex forward in an effort to get to that new edge, rather than keeping my weight over the pushing foot.
  • Twizzles (both feet) practice without bringing arms in, find the place on your blade where you can turn without rocking. Don’t use your free side for ballast. Pick up the arch of your left foot so you don’t pronate (this is helpful on other things as well).
  • 3 turns. First practice the preparation edge. On the right side, start with left arm slightly more forward; on left, watch your entry edge: sternum into circle, pick up free hip, don’t left free leg get too behind. Then practice rising and hold, then just picking up your heel for the three.

So one really important thing that I learned was that I am putting my hip weight on the wrong part of my blade (towards the back) rather than farther forward on my foot where it should go. Ari says that this is a common error. It should feel as though you have to stroke forward (almost like falling).

  1. First of all, you can only do this if you really have your hips underneath you and you are bending your knees and ankles so that it feels like your thighbone is driving forward.
  2. Second, this is about hip weight, not the upper body. I tend to get the two things confused. The upper body can do all sorts of things to help accentuate or stabilize an edge, but the hips are key to keeping over the correct part of the blade and edge.

Some time ago, I wrote a post on gravity that in which I reflected on the idea of “hip weight.”

Instead, I imagine my left hip as being heavy and the weight of it just sinking down into ice in a rather relaxed way. Similarly, I imagine my shoulder blades dropping down my back, kind of like angel wings that have gotten sorta droopy (yes, my angelic nature certainly feels that way these days).

This really helps me figure out where my hip is. I feel as though it simply falls into place, without jerking or clenching, like it’s a bowling ball dropped into a cloth bag. The weight is right over the correct part of my blade and everything feels nice and stable.

So today imagining my hips as encased bowling balls was really, really useful. I just thought about my hips as these two nice and round and heavy objects (though one is somewhat bruised) and moved their weight around smoothly. This idea of “hip weight” is much easier for me to physically conceptualize than “position.” “Position” implies trying to stack up my body in ways that have always felt foreign to me. But weight? I know how to throw my weight around!

Okay, music for the week: an upbeat song from Imagine Dragons. I thought the last set of lyrics were particularly apropos of skating.

And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.
‘Cause I’m on top of the world, hey
I’m on top of the world, hey
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, hey
Been holding it in for a while, hey
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.
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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 “Bruised but unbroken

  1. So glad to see you are already back on the ice, Jo! Please take care of yourself and let the hip heal. Sending you healing thoughts!

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  2. A little tentative but I’m there, Eva! Thanks for your good wishes.

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