jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

Agonizing ankles

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Long day at work, so I’m just chilling out by reading different websites that talk about ankle impingement. Fun, fun, fun.

Well, not fun, but at least it takes my mind off work. And puts it back where it belongs–on my current skating obsession about bending my ankles more. I have written several posts about this, but I’m hoping that one more post might just exorcise those demons (a.k.a. stiff ankles).

I have been trying to face up to another one of those bitter skating truths in the last few weeks. I noticed how much ankle flexion really good skaters had. I noticed that when I bend my ankles too, some kind of magic happened and I have a lot more stability over my skates. And I noticed that when I don’t bend them enough, the magic goes away and I am wobbly and my pushes are ineffective. Alas, woe is me!

Okay, it’s not particularly tragic even as skating problems go. It’s just one of those things that I have tended to forget about, but that has become increasingly obvious as other aspects of my skating get stronger.

My right ankle in particular has trouble both flexing (dorsiflexion) and pointing (plantarflexion). This is probably the result of a bad injury I had a long time ago; ligament damage and scar tissue now make this ankle much less mobile and much weaker. So even though my left side is weaker overall, my right ankle is definitely inhibited.

I’ve been doing lots of calf raises and foot exercises and ankle-stretching for weeks or even months now. I can tell there is is some progress, but it is slow (I was going to make some kind of joke about its being slow, like my skating, but I am trying to be kind to myself in the face of this cruel world). And like any therapy, there are times when the exercises are uncomfortable.

I told PT Sarah that my ankle was feeling wobbly and a little sore. I told her that I was afraid that if I got rid of all that scar tissue (or at least made it more mobile), that I wouldn’t have anything left keeping the ankle stable. She told me in her characteristically upbeat but no nonsense way that if I only had scar tissue there, the ankle would be totally immobile and stiff, and that ankles are supposed to move side-to-side (within reason).

In other words, snap (or bend) out of it!

Lesson notes:

  • cross rolls. Use skating side rather than free side. Practice “stop action” in which you stop the free leg just when your feet are parallel, then push under as if you were doing a crossover.
  • alternating swing rolls. Work on body placement, retrogressing the changes of edge into the push, and on bending the ankle.
  • outside loops. Push off, upper body twist with tight forward outside edges, and forcing edge to curve), strike off, twist more, ride edge.
  • inside loops. Good push off, then trace with free foot.
  • fully stretched free leg countering the twist of the torso and skating leg. This is easier to see than to write about.
  • back crossover, turn free foot in, change edge, bring free foot in, back outside three (free foot in front afterwards), forward inside three (foot comes back). Watch your head position.
  • tight outside swing rolls emphasizing the deepening edge into the change of edge (push into ice to rise and resist), inside mohawk, edge pull.
  • three step closed mohawk pattern. Where is your body weight? Draw foot in rather than step to it. Work on weight placement and lean, and place your shoulders–not your hips–correctly over the tracing.
  • inside threes (keeping skating arm over foot on three and afterwards). step forward cross.

 

 

 

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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.

4 thoughts on “Agonizing ankles

  1. I will join you in the ankle bend agony. I just learned back inside loops today and failed miserably. Coaches and good skaters make them look so incredibly easy! Let’s go on this ankle/loop journey together, Jo. We can do it! 🙂

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  2. Back inside loops! That is so awesome and so hard on the ankles! Knowing you are on the ankle journey too makes me feel much better–thanks, Eva!

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  3. You two can do loops, cool! I haven’t learned those except for forward inside. I hear ‘bend from the ankles’ on my lessons so I know the challenge. Right now my left ankle just plain won’t dorsiflex through it’s full range of motion, got to get that back!

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  4. Is that left ankle problem related to your back issues, Mary? If so, it hopefully will get better as your left side gets stronger. My ankle ROM is inhibited by scar tissue and old injuries, so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll get (aside from frustrated). I know you will love loops; they are super fun.

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