How Can an Adult Ice Skater Prevent Injury With a Dynamic Warm-Up?

Static Warm-Up?

Static Warm-Up?

As a follow up to last week’s post about stretching here is more on dynamic warm-ups. As adult ice skaters I know it’s hard enough to fit practice times into our very full lives but once you get into the habit, a decent warm-up shouldn’t add much more than 15 minutes to your practice. The good news is that you will be able to max out your time on the ice and ultimately prevent injury.

A dynamic warm-up is a 10 or more minutes of activity that prepares athletes physically and mentally for practice or competition. Adult figure skaters should do dynamic warm-ups before each practice or competition to both improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

This type of warm-up has many advantages over traditional static stretching:

Increase heart rate more effectively.
Increase muscle temperature.
Improve force generating capacity.
Train neural pathway used specifically for figure skating.
Provide the working muscles with energy from the energy systems used during figure skating.
Assist with mental preparation.
Reduce risk of injury.

An effective dynamic warm-up has three components:

Active exercise to gradually raise the heart rate, muscle temperature and increase the joint range of motion.
Dynamic stretching and body awareness during movements requiring a large range of motion help improve balance and develop body control.
Sport specific drills to prepare you mentally and physically to skate.

Key points to remember are: an effective warm-up uses the same muscle groups as your sport and uses the same energy systems as your sport. Ice skating requires short intense bursts of activity, compared to long distance running therefore warm up should have intense bouts of activity interspersed with rest breaks.

An effective warm–up prepares you to figure skate but it does not cause fatigue.

Finally there are three variables that determine the effectiveness of the warm up:

Intensity of the warm-up activities.
Duration of the warm up.
Length of time between the end of warm up and participation in the event.

If you alter one of these three you must adjust the other two to produce the same results. For example if you will be skating immediately after the warm up, it’s doesn’t need to be too long. If you are warming up for a competition it may need to be a little more intense since you will not have the benefit of more than 3-6 minutes on the ice before having to skate.

Next week I’ll give some specific activities you can do to create a good dynamic warm-up.

Do you include a dynamic warm-up when you train? Do you find the older you get, the longer it takes to get warmed up? Comment and share!

Posted in adult figure skater, Dynamic Warm-Ups, Ice skating, Injury Prevention | Leave a comment

What Exercises Help an Adult Ice Skater Gain Flexibility?


Stop what you are doing and have a look at this article!   For physiology geeks like me, it is one of the best articles I have ever seen on what is happening to your body when you stretch.

The next thing I’m going to tell you before you rush headlong into trying to do them is STOP!

The best way to benefit from static stretching is to be more than just lightly warmed up, the best time to do them is after your work out.    The best way to warm up before a work out  is with a dynamic warm up, more about that later.

Go ahead and open the link because I will be referring back to it.

While all the stretches are excellent,  there are several that address the specific needs  of figure skaters:

2 Wide forward fold: great for all those nice arabesques and all those weird spin positions we like to tie ourselves up in.

3 Frog pose:  if the wide forward fold is getting easy then by all means progress to this one.   Don’t force it though.    There is also the 1/2 frog variation,   only one leg is bent and the other stays straight.

4 Wide side lunge pose:  works the same muscle groups as the above two, you may wish to start with this one and then progress to the other two.

5 Butterfly stretch:  the upright variation of the frog, it’s preferable to frog since you have more control over the stretch.

11 Half kneeling quad hip flexor stretch:  If you only do one stretch do this one!   The psoas and quadriceps muscles take a constant beating by figure skaters.   Show them a little love and they will repay the favor with loyal service, ignore them at your own peril.

18 Standing calf stretch: ankle flexibility helps with nice deep knee bends (ice dancers take note!).

As you stretch, focus on your breath and move through these movements as naturally as possible.  You should feel these stretches in the belly of the muscle. If you feel pressure or strain on your joints or if you feel pain, you are pushing too far.

Don’t worry about how long you’re holding the stretch. Instead focus on feeling your muscles relax back to their natural, resting lengths, which can take 5 to 30 seconds. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with a specific stretch, try a different variation.

Depending on whatever you do off the ice, any of the other stretches are fair game.  For example the shoulder and wrist  stretches are good for anyone who spends who spends a lot of time sitting at a keyboard.

Do you have a favorite stretch? Please comment and share your stretching tips with us.

Posted in Adult ice skater, figure skaters | 4 Comments

How Can I Buy Custom Adult-Sized Ice Skating Dresses?


This dress went to Oberstdorf and helped me win a bronze medal.!

Spring cleaning has begun early in my home. Since I’ve joined the walking wounded on the disabled list, I’ve been spending my time re-organising my office and living space and am now selling some of my figure skating competition dresses. I’m selling them for the following reasons: I need closet space and due to my inactivity I’ve gained weight.
They were both custom designed and made for me by Josiane

Lamond of Elite Expressions, designer of Joanie Rochette’s dresses. Both are recently laundered and are in great condition. If you like I can even throw in the CDs of the music I skated to.

When they were made for my original measurements were: bust 34” waist 28” hips 39” girth 60”. I’m 5’5’ and weighed about 130 lbs at the time. Yes I’m a giant ice skating pear.

This dress has travelled to Canadian adult nationals and won.  It would make a nice dance dress, if you want to see it in action follow this link.

This dress has traveled to Canadian adult nationals and won. It would make a nice dance dress, if you want to see it in action click on the photo to see video.

I’m asking CAD $200 for each dress, the original price was CAD $400. Postage/delivery fees to be discussed depending on where you are and how fast you want it sent, payment will be via Paypal.

Please contact me via the website or for details.

Posted in Adult ice skater, figure skating competition, figure skating dresses | Leave a comment

How Can I Learn to Ice Skate?

A few years ago I was playing around with Google Hangouts and created a series of videos for adult ice skaters.

Since we were a diverse bunch of people and locations many diverse questions and topics were covered.  I must apologize for the sound quality, especially at the start but bear with me since the quality does improve.    Since that hangout I have learned two key things: 1) always use headphones and a mike and 2) I’m not a big fan of Google Hangouts, they can be too unpredictable.

Topics covered are:

  1. Ice skating in Singapore.
  2. Am I too old to start figure skating?
  3. How does ice skating compare with roller blading or roller skating?
  4. Ice skating in Italy.
  5. What are figure skating tests?
  6. What do I need to get started?
  7. Do you need a good sense of balance to figure skate?
  8. Vertigo induced while riding Space Mountain at Disneyland vs. figure skating spins.

This is one video you want to share with your non-skating friends and family.

What questions do get asked by non skating friends and family?  Comment and share!

Posted in Adult ice skater, figure skating, figure skating test, Ice skating | Leave a comment

All About the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition

It’s that time again!  Time to start planning to attend the ISU International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf Germany.   For some fortunate adult ice skaters, this is an annual event and for others, such as myself it’s a once in a lifetime bucket-list event.

This year’s event will be held June 13-18th and will have singles, pairs, artistic, dance and synchronized figure skating events.

I realized one of my figure skating dreams and competed there in 2012 and it remains one of my best adult ice skating memories ever.  My husband traveled with me and we also celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary while there.    The only downside of the trip for him is we arrived the day after FC Bayern München was thoroughly trounced.  

Fortunately there were lots of other thing to do for  figure skating significant others  while you are practicing.    In fact many of the significant others choose to run as a pack and have way too much fun on their own.   My husband is an avid cyclist so he was able to ride for an afternoon with another figure skating spouse.   He also enjoyed practicing his German and and exploring the village of Oberstdorf.   Many people also choose to stay longer as we did, since the rest of Europe is easily accessible by train or car.

New this year is an ISU adult figure skating competition in Vancouver Canada.     This is the first time an ISU adult event has been held in North America and if you’ve never been do leave yourself some time to explore afterwards.  One advantage of Vancouver is that it is at sea-level so this should be a little easier for those of us endurance challenged skaters.  Like Oberstdorf, Vancouver is surrounded by Canada’s Rocky Mountains so should you feel the need for the alpine experience, it is easily available.

Be warned that there is quite a bit of paperwork to enter these competitions, as well be sure to reserve your practice ice sessions and RSVP for the opening and closing banquets.

International Adult Ice Skating Competition, Oberstdorf, Germany.

June 13-18, 2016  Deadline for registration is March 14, 2016.

International Adult Figure Skating Competition, Vancouver, Canada

August 28- September 2, 2016.  Deadline for registration is May 16, 2016.

For more information and entry forms

The video captures one of my favorite figure skating moments, placing third in gold artistic III skating.

Are you planning to attend this year?   What are you most looking forward to?  Comment and share!

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, figure skating, ISU Intrenational Adult Figure Skating Competition, Synchronized Figure Skating | Leave a comment

Life Lessons for Adult Ice Skaters from Meryl Davis

As I was working on this week’s post I came across this video.   Everyone of us knows Meryl Davis as an Olympic ice dance champion but I certainly did not know of her back story.  I won’t give you any spoilers here but I was moved to tears by the end.

At about the 10 minute mark she shares that “on the ice ice I could see myself as something other than broken”    I know I can certainly relate to that sentiment.

Adult figure skaters please give yourself the gift of listening to Meryl’s TED talk.   I think  what binds us together as a figure skating community is the understanding that no matter what level we skate at, we all have our struggles on and off the ice.   My triple jumping senior men’s friends always had compassion and encouragement for  this old lady’s attempts to master her axel.

So what ever you are struggling with today remember to embrace the joy of ice skating and to paraphrase Meryl, enjoy the place where you can be yourself.

Share this with all your friend…your skating friends will totally get it and your non skating friends will better understand you.

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult ice skater, ice dance | 2 Comments

News For Adult Ice Skaters from Skate Canada

practice_nAfter an insanely long wait, Skate Canada finally announced in late December 2016 that Oakville, Ont., will host the 2016 Skate Canada Adult Figure Skating Championships. The competition will take place at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex, from April 22-24, 2016.   Good news is that:  1) There will be a Canadian Adult National Adult Figure Skating Championships in 2016 and 2) the location is close to Toronto, the air transport hub  of Canada, which facilitates travel somewhat.

The bad news is that the announcement comes very late in the skating season and unlike younger skaters, many adults do not have the same flexibility in their work schedules and cannot take time off to attend.    Alternatively they may have grown tired of waiting for an announcement and committed their vacation days to other competitions or events.

As bad is the late announcement date for the singles and pairs figure skating teams it is infinitely worse for the synchro teams who will need to organize transportation and schedules in a hurry if at all.

It remains to be seen how participation will be affected but thank you and good luck to the organizing committee for taking on this important task.

In November Skate Canada released the revised adult technical package and there were a few pleasant changes.

For the 2015-2016 season, test pre-requisites will be removed from all Adult categories. Skaters will self-identify their skill level and enter the appropriate category(ies) based on the technical program requirements and any recommendations that may be added to the category descriptions. It is expected that skaters will skate to their ability.
This method is being piloted to alleviate the issues for skaters who took Skate Canada tests in the past but may no longer be able to skate at the level of the test. It also mirrors the entry method of the ISU adult competitions. This method will be piloted for 2015-2016 season.  Feedback will be then be collected and analyzed to determine actions for the 2016-2017 skating

Music with vocals will be permitted for Adult free skating and pairs categories. Lyrics must be in good taste and appropriate for competition.  After all, why should the ice dancers have all the fun skating to Michel Bublé tunes?

Apart from clarification of steps sequences (how many, how they will be called) the rest of the tech package is unchanged and shouldn’t require any major changes to this year’s programs. Click on the link below to see details.

2015-2016 Adult Technical Package-Revised Nov.30

Are you planning to attend any national or international adult ice skating competitions this year?  Which ones?  Be sure and share your thoughts.

Posted in adult figure skater, Adult Figure Skating Competitions, ice dancers, Pairs figure skating, Skate Canada, Synchronized Figure Skating | Leave a comment

New Year’s Cheer for Adult Figure Skating Geeks!

OK, OK,    just bear with me, I’m also a SciFy geek in another life.  :)    And yes this video has nothing to do with adult figure skating but it is so silly I couldn’t pass it up.

Besides, it’s New Year’s Eve tonight!    Although I’m not much of a party animal I’ll be hanging out with some good family friends.  I’ve already seen the Star Wars: The Force Awakens so for the rest of the holidays will most likely be snuggling up with the family to watch Dr Who/Star Trek/Firefly replays as 2015 ends and 2016 begins.

May 2016 be a year of good heath, ice skating goals attained and blessed with great friendships in the adult figure skating community.     May those of us who are injured or experiencing health challenges be healed.  To  those having financial issues/work scheduling/ice time/coaching issues, may they be resolved quickly.

Thanks to all who have been following my posts and a big shout out to those of you who comment, I love getting your thoughts and ideas, you inspire me to keep writing about topics that are important to you as adult ice skaters.

As you know my competitive figure skating plans are on hold until I have hip surgery and rehab so I’m cheering for you all from the side lines at this point.  What are your ice skating plans and objectives for 2016?

Posted in adult figure skating, Adult ice skater, figure skating | 4 Comments

Christmas Joy and Blessings…

To all  loyal fans of International Adult Figure Skaters!

Here’s a nifty take on one of my favorite Christmas classics.  The  melody is adapted from a 15th century French tune, Veni  Immanuel.  The text comes from a 7 verse poem that dates back to the 8th century and was used in a call and response fashion during the vespers, or evening service.  Our English version comes from the early 19th century.

And the Piano Guys?  Well they are actually the piano-and-cello guys who do great covers of all genres of music, my other current favorite is their version of “Let It Go”.   Check out their music, it also makes great music for a free-skating or interpretive ice skating program.

I wish you all a season of rest, joy and blessing….and if the weather obliges in your part of the world, do try to get outdoors and skate….nothing like fresh air and sunshine to revive the soul :)

Posted in adult figure skating | 2 Comments

Stretching a Point or Tying Yourself Up in Knots?

In my dreams :)

In my dreams :)

Several weeks ago I received a question via my Youtube Channel from Tara Lacey

Hello, I’ve been interested in skating for a while now, and I’m hoping to take lessons soon (I’m 17 by the way). However, I am not flexible AT ALL. Will this limit my skating ability? Should I do stretches to help?

Great question Tara, the short answer is yes and no.

Yes a lack of flexibility will limit you if you plan to compete at the higher levels of adult figure skating. The features that give you higher levels for your spins such as the hair cutter or pancake spins tend to require a high degree of flexibility. Apart from spins, everyone loves a great big Ina Bauer move or a spread eagle which when well done are dramatic and beautiful to watch. Judges at adult competitions seem to go gaga over and give high marks for these moves. Great if you can do them, they are legitimate transitional moves and give you +GOEs on your jump passes. I’ve survived as an adult ice skater without either of them.

Some of us, and by some of us I’m referring to me, have never been able to do big flexibility moves. And some of us (that would be me) have gotten injured trying to force our bodies into extreme flexibility moves.

Having said that,

Figure skaters should devote time to improving and maintaining your flexibility. Not so much to gain points but rather as a means of injury prevention. Figure skating is very repetitive in it’s nature. We are always turning the same turning in the same direction, using primarily our lower body muscles and doing multiple repetitions of the same moves on a regular basis. So much so that it is easy for our muscles to become unbalanced and this over time is a recipe for repetitive strain injury.

Even if you will never do an Ina Bauer, increasing your flexibility will give you a nicer line on your basic skills such as a nice long leg extension during stroking/edges and jump landings or a respectably high arabesque.

What is the best way for an adult or an almost adult such as Tara, to improve their flexibility?

With great care and professional knowledge.

The worst thing you can do is force your joints in directions they just don’t want to go. Forcibly try to increase your flexibility and it will come back to bite you, sometimes sooner rather than later.

Strengthening muscle groups that are less used such as the hamstrings also helps to maintain flexibility. The older you get the more a thorough warm-up and cool down should be added to your training mix.

An activity such as ballet gently builds flexibility of different muscle groups, encourages proper posture, especially in the upper body, develops an ear for rhythm (essential in ice dance) and musical interpretation.

Pilates and yoga are also excellent, especially for developing body awareness and core strength.

But whatever you choose the never, never, never, ever force your joints into extremely uncomfortable positions to increase your flexibility. It will not do any good over the long term. You only get one set of knees, hips and vertebrae. Show them some love and they will provide years of faithful service.

What do you do to improve or maintain your flexibility? What has been your biggest mistake? Comment and share!

Posted in Ballet for Figure Skaters, cooldown after a training session, core strength in figure skating, figure skating injury, figure skating judge, flexibility, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments