jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life

New foot exercises, with a twist!

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New year, new socks!

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.

twistboard

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.

Lesson notes:

  • 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!

 

 

 

 

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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 “New foot exercises, with a twist!

  1. Some of those videos look like they feature some foot torture devices. Ack! Hope your feet get stronger this year. And fingers crossed that we both start channeling our inner Shibuntanis for deep, beautiful edges! 🙂

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  2. They use a special foot torture device–but you can also use a theraband, elastic, or even a hair tie! I’ve been using one of those inspirational rubber wristbands they always give out at events. And hooray for the Shibutanis!

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  3. Gosh. Bunions and skaters. I’ve been buddy-taping my toes in exactly the way that Dr. McLanahan would hate to keep my tailor’s bunions away from my skating boot. And that’s despite always asking for extra room around my bunions in my skate. I’m familiar with Correct Toes– I have a pair that I’m not using right now. I bought some Soft Star moccasins to accommodate the Correct Toes a few years ago and used them, at least for an hour or two a day (about all my feet could tolerate. One problem is that the Softstar mocs are so minimalist that they aggravate my Achilles, at least while walking on hard surfaces. One of my sons is a big FiveFingers shoe fan, that’s all he wears. He’s probably smart. He thinks my Softstars are more minimalist than his FiveFingers, so perhaps I should try the FiveFingers. I remember reading about how when David Good, an American whose mother is Yanomami Amazonian, returned to the Amazon to find her, his tribe laughed at him a lot for his crazy deformed feet which didn’t have a wide forefoot like theirs (they don’t wear shoes).

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  4. Mary, you are waaay ahead of me as far as foot knowledge goes! I’m just starting to try to correct my foot alignment. My tailor’s bunions don’t bother me too much, but I do have he beginnings of a big toe bunion on my left side, probably due to that misaligned big toe. The foot exercises seem to be helping me regain that natural “spread” (the wide forefoot that a shoe salesperson once called my “duck feet” when I was a kid). I’m proud of those wide feet now and want to regain them! Will have to think more about how I can keep this up with skating.

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