I Can Feel My Toes!!


My Happy Piggies!

My Happy Piggies!

I’m happy to report that after seven hours of ice time in my new ice skates, version 2.0, I can indeed feel my toes… and they feel good. My ankles are a little tender, but the skates are over-all very comfortable and I haven’t lost any of my skating program elements. However, this whole experience did get me thinking about the need for orthotics in figure skates. Depending on who you ask, they are either absolutely essential, or a complete waste of time and money.

My athletic therapist feels that orthotics are seldom necessary, and if anything, they prevent natural foot movement. During last week’s torture, I mean therapy session, we had an intense discussion on the subtleties of pronation and how the human foot is supremely adaptable to whatever we throw at it — as long as it is free to move. Given my background in rehabilitation medicine, my personal feeling is that orthotics are a last ditch resort after everything else such as a different model of ice skate or corrective/strengthening exercises have been tried, or if there is some type of special situation like a foot deformity or medical condition.

When I Googled “Are orthotics good for you,” the page one articles seemed to be divided into two camps: the “Anti-orthotic” faction sites, where the general consensus was that orthotics serve no useful function and are a scam and the “pro-orthotic” faction sites, which tended to be run by podiatrists or those who sold orthotics.

When I Googled “figure skating orthotics,” every single entry on page one felt orthotics were essential for figure skating success. Of course, most of the links led to orthotics suppliers. Then again, Google Searches are not the place to go to if you want a balanced view of a topic.

The pro-orthotics lobby’s thesis for orthotics is that skaters pronate  their feet excessively when they bend their knees. This can contribute to a variety of unpleasant situations, such as pain in / or injury to other joints. It may also contribute to technical problems, such as difficulty holding an outside edge, landing a jump, or flutzing a lutz. Since skaters’ feet and ankle movements are restricted by the stiffness of their boot and since jump landings exert such high degrees of force on the human body, the only way to compensate for the tendency to pronate is to continually push the foot into inversion. 

Sounds sensible. Except… the rehab person in me wonders if static positioning that is blocking the foot from moving in its natural way when needed is a long-term solution. Dancers face a similar situation when wearing pointe shoes. In classical ballet, use of orthotics is not an option and dancers consciously train and strengthen their feet and indeed their entire body to avoid excessive pronation at all times.

In fact, it was only when I resumed ballet classes last fall that I realized how weak my feet and ankles had become. Seldom in any of the “pro-orthotic” articles was there any mention of training skaters in proper body alignment or strengthening underutilized muscles.

Have you tried orthotics in your skates? Did they help or hinder your skating? Share your opinions and ideas with us!

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Figure Skating Makes Me Happy!

Posting  this for no  reason other than it make me happy!    Ice skating makes me happy too….and so do minions, minions make me happy :)

May you all have a happy rest of weekend!

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Adult Ice Skating and Orthotics…. Two Steps Forward and One Step Back?

Happy Feet=Happy Adult Figure Skater!

Happy Feet=Happy Adult Figure Skater!

In life, relationships are all about finding common ground and compromise, and given that figure skating is a metaphor for life this notion applies equally well.

Last week, you may recall that I shared what a joyous (not) experience breaking in new ice skates could be.    After about ten hours of wearing time, my new skates remained painfully uncomfortable.   My toes felt squashed up against the front of the boot and went numb after about 20-30 minutes. Worse still, after I took my skates off, my feet throbbed for hours.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by many excellent figure skating coaches and experienced competitive ice skaters, so my misery was the topic of many intense and interesting discussions during this time.  I’m fortunate also to be in a major metropolitan centre which is a hot bed of figure skating talent and there are several good skate shops where I could obtain a second opinion.  

The consensus was that my skates were too small by a half size.  Saturday morning, I went back to my original dealer who insisted that they were not too small and that I should focus on the positive and how well I was skating.   He was certainly right on this point I have to admit, overall I liked how they felt when I skated and I felt a lot more balanced and confident especially on jump take-offs.   He also felt the orthotic inserts he provided with the boots were essential in order to manage my tendency to pronate  when bending my knees.   I had to take the inserts out because they made my feet feel even more squashed.

I whined pitifully that all that lovely correction would not be very fruitful if I couldn’t wear my skates for more than 10 minutes at a time due to pain.   Ultimately he acceded to my wishes and gave me a bigger size.   Instead of adding the orthotic insole, he modified the insole that comes with the boot.   A compromise on both our parts since I didn’t really like his original inserts anyway.

I’ll see how I fare with this week.   It’s a bit discouraging since I have to start the break-in process all over again but maybe it will go a little faster if I can keep my skates on for longer periods of time.  Hopefully all the progress I made last week will still be there.

Have you ever had a bad recommendation from a figure skate shop? What did you do about?

Posted in Adult Ice Skating, competitive ice skater, figure skating, figure skating coach, Ice Skates, Orthotics | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Breaking Bad

Not sure if she likes her new boots

Not sure if she likes her new boots

It’s that time of year again, the worst time of the ice skating year – time to break in new figure skates!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of any other sport in which the thought of using new equipment fills it’s participants with fear and loathing. 

So I got to wondering… is it just me being wussy? 

Thanks to the miracle of Google, I found this article about buying new skates, which sounds pretty much bang on.  It turns out that there are at least seven things that make adapting to new figure skates an unpleasant and demoralizing experience.  Of course, I had to go through the list looking for how many of these factors apply to my new skates, to see how much pain I should expect to be in. 

  1. Switching brands of boot.  Check for this one; I have had Jacksons for the last five years or so and this week, I made the switch to EDEA Concertos.  I’ve travelled to foreign countries and eaten many a strange food, but believe me, the “this-really-feels-weird” factor is miniscule compared to switching brands of figure skating boot.
  2. Switching blades.  Yes to this one, although the effect was mitigated somewhat by selecting the same make and model of blade.  However, it is a brand new blade, so the shape of the rocker is a little different; it is a bit shorter and has a fresh sharpening on it.  This seemed to sort itself out after about an hour or so.
  3. Non heat-moldable.  Unlike Jacksons, EDEAs are not heat-moldable.  According to the article, this has the effect of doubling the adaptation time.  Ughhh!
  4. Custom made boots are harder to break in.  Well, at least something is working in my favor!  It seems counter intuitive to me, though.  I only know one person who ever had custom boots and she had no difficulty.
  5. Heel height.  Apparently, this can vary by as much as a quarter of an inch from brand to brand.  I have to admit that when I first tried walking in the new skates after the blades were mounted, I almost fell over forward because of the difference in heel height.  It seemed to sort itself out quickly, though.  Even better, it is helping me to get lower in my sit spins.
  6. Muscle memory.  This one caught me off guard.  I was sore all over after wearing them for 5 hours over three days.  I had never experienced anything like this when breaking in other skates, and figured this was part and parcel of being 53 year old adult ice skater… not so.  The tiny differences in the new skates have apparently disrupted my muscle memory on a major scale!  The good news is that it’s not age related; the bad news is that it can take time for muscles to adapt to the changes.
  7. Pain is inevitable.  Amen to that one, brother.

How long does it take you to break in new skates?  Do you put off having to do this for as long as possible, like me?  Can you share some hints on making this process less painful?  Alternatively, if you just want to whine pitifully, we’re OK with that, too.

Posted in Adult ice skater, figure skates, figure skating, figure skating blades, Ice skating | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

US Adult Figure Skating Championships

Just like the Skate Canada and the Skate America Grand Prix events in the fall,  the two biggest events for North American adult ice skaters happen within a week or so of each other.

The Canadian event wrapped up this past Sunday and American adult skaters are into their final preparations for the United States Adult Figure Skating Championships on April 8-12 and at every level, the competition is fierce!

Behold the Cardinal Rules of Adult Nationals:

The fierceness and competitiveness stays on the ice.

Cheer loudly for everyone..even your chief rival.

Off-ice activities such as partying and celebrating are of equal importance to any and all on-ice activities.

Everyone has an amazing story about how they came to be there..ask them about it!

Take lots of pictures.

Appreciate the significance and joy of stuffed animals.

Make new friends and have the time of your life.

Have you participated at Adult Nationals?  Share a favorite memory with us!

Posted in adult figure skating, Adult ice skater, Skate Canada | 2 Comments

Meet Canada’s Most Inspirational Adult Ice Skater!

PatNoddin crop

Pat, you are my skating hero and my inspiration! Thanks for all your words of encouragement :)

REGINA — Pat Noddin is one of the grandmothers of adult figure skating.

The 77-year-old grandmother of eight is in Regina for the Skate Canada adult figure skating championships. Noddin is also the oldest and possibly most vibrant competitor in the championships, which run through Sunday at the Co-operators Centre.

“It has been an amazing journey,’’ the personable Noddin said prior to Friday’s competition. “Life is what you make of it. You could mope and moan and groan and everything like that. You’re the one who is in control and you just do it.’’

Read Entire Article and Watch Video!!

Who is your adult figure skating inspiration?

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Adult Ice Skater Epiphanies I Had This Year.


No excuses

My change in travel plans has given me ample time to reflect on my year as an adult ice skater and thus, here is an extra post for this week. I still feel bad and kind of doofus-y on account of missing my March 18th post. Here are my three “Aha! Moments” for 2013-14:

  1. Continue reading
Posted in Adult ice skater, Ice skating | 2 Comments

Change of Plans

Last Monday, I came this close (insert visual of a minuscule distance) to posting my regular Tuesday blog post.  It was a rather witty piece (well, I thought so) about my preparations to attend the Canadian Adult Figure Skating Championship in Regina, Saskatchewan, which begin March 28th.   But in less than a millisecond, everything changed and I discovered that I would not be able to attend after all.  And my rather witty blog?   Consigned to hard drive purgatory.

Don’t worry, I’m not injured or ill, nor was there any major life calamity.  I just botched up my plane reservation, and was not willing to pay over $750 to re-book.  Maybe once the feeling of “Oh what a doofus I am” passes, there will be room for disappointment. Continue reading

Posted in adult figure skating, Adult Figure Skating Competitions, Canadian adult figure skaters., figure skating | 2 Comments

Ice Skating in Brazil: Important Update!


This just in from our Brazilian adult figure skating correspondent Elaine.

Elaine was our featured adult skater in mid-February, and she and the Brazilian ice skating community need our help!

Despite being the fifth largest country on the planet, hosting the World Cup of Soccer this summer and the Olympics in 2016, there is not one Olympic (or even NHL) sized rink in the entire country!   Something that is extremely frustrating for figure skaters of all ages and levels!

Inspiring the figure skating and ice sports community there, 18 year-old Isadora Williams represented Brazil at the Sochi Olympics last month!

Please sign the petition to help fulfill the dreams of Brazilian skaters.  You can sign by clicking on “Assinar a Petição” in the green rectangle and entering your name, email and comments.

You can also check out the television interview with Elaine, as well as several other ice skaters…  Added bonus: you can practice your Portuguese!  

Hopefully, you’ll be able to bring your skates to Rio for a morning skate, followed by an afternoon at the beach in the near future!

Link to Sign Petition!

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Endurance and Adult Figure Skaters… In it for the Long Haul.


What is endurance?

Endurance is a term often used in sport, but unfortunately can mean different things to different people. In sport, it refers to an athlete’s ability to sustain prolonged exercise for minutes, hours, or even days.  To add to the confusion there are several terms used that mean more or less the same thing.  In spite of all of this, I will try to be clear and explain a little of the basics that skaters need to know to improve their performance.

When most people talk about endurance, they are referring to aerobic (or cardiovascular) endurance, which is often equated with cardiovascular fitness.  Aerobic means “with oxygen” and during aerobic exercise, the body uses oxygen to help supply the energy needed for exercise. Continue reading

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