jo skates

Thoughts about skating and the practice of everyday life


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Ankle allies

I have been looking through a number of websites for advice on how to improve my ankle  strength and flexibility. One site that I found particularly inspiring came from Chad Walding at “The Sitting Solution.” Here’s the video, complete with a really cute dog named Maya.

I was pleased that I’d already gotten a jump start on some of Chad’s advice. In addition to different foot exercises, I have been doing calf stretches for a while now. And I’ve always been pretty much a “barefoot in the house” kinda gal.

I’m definitely going to add to my daily routine what he calls the “womb squat” (at 8.07 on the video). I used to do these back in yoga class, but haven’t worked on them for a while.  Happily enough, when I tried one tonight my initial position was already better than it was a few years ago: I feel like my ankle flexibility is definitely better than it’s been in years. I was not able to hold it anywhere near ten minutes (even a minute was a bit much) but that was encouraging.

After watching the video, I have been thinking again about how important it is for me to keep working on that ankle mobility. After having had a number of ankle sprains as well as fairly severe ligament damage, I think I tend to err on the side of immobilization, trying to stabilize my ankles by locking them. It’s also easy to forget about them when they are encased in heavy boots.

Definitely my skating has suffered by neglecting those ankles. Not only do stiff ankles make it impossible to bend my knees adequately, but it’s really hard to shift weight properly without ankle movement. Something both my coaches have reinforced is that skating is not about just hitting a position and staying there; you dynamically pass through different positions. And it’s hard to do that unless all the parts of your body are working together.

So maybe between doing these squats and calf raises, I will develop ankles that can do this! And this!

Luckily, these lesson notes from last week were much more practical.

  • Exercise: back-to-front choctaw, inside counter, change edge, little touch down/push to back edge, repeat on other side
  • Exercise: tuck behind, mohawk, change edge (bend knee), step forward and repeat
  • Forward outside threes in a circle. Bend and push on inside edge (elongate push)
  • Alternating outside threes. After the three, free foot is outside circle and skating arm inside. Put the three at the top of circle. Really use your core to twist–not just arms.