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What are the best yoga techniques for ice skaters? Skating demands sensitive and strong stabilisers. They are the small muscles around the ankles, knees and hips that aid and enhance standing yoga postures. With yoga, professional and recreational skaters can boost their confidence and avoid injury. This is because yoga provides the balance, coordination, flexibility, conditioning and strength necessary through habitual practice.
Ice skaters all around the world are incorporating various yoga poses into their training regimens. For instance, Bikram Yoga promotes flexibility while working out. Triangle and Bow poses not only enhance speed skating, they open up the hips and hamstrings. Yoga teaches ice skaters how to breathe for proper adrenaline management.
Ice skating is a persistent balancing act on a surface that poses various challenges. The practice puts a continuous strain on the hips, ankles and hips as skaters attempt various combinations of gymnastics on the slipperiest and riskiest surface of all — ice. By incorporating yoga into ice skating, you drastically reduce the risk of soreness and injury every time you are on the ice.
Yoga complements ice skating by promoting strength, coordination, flexibility, balance and confidence. Yoga also helps to develop a positive body image and fosters relaxation. A lot of these abilities and skills can be transferred directly from your yoga practice to the ice rink. So while it may not be a pre-requisite for ice skaters to practice yoga, it is immensely helpful.
If you have been wondering if yoga is good for ice skating, and to what extent, the answer is yes, and to a large extent. Yoga is an excellent way to improve your ice skating and manage your adrenaline while you’re on the ice. In this article, you’ll learn about various yoga poses and how you can integrate them to your regular practice. You’ll also learn ways yoga can be of help to ice skating.
The Most Effective Yoga Techniques for Ice Skaters
Ice Skating Core Strength
Yoga poses that focus on building core strength are critical to skaters for maintaining balance on the ice, particularly during spins and rotating jumps. These poses help to build stamina and abdominal strength:
Boat – Lie on your back with your legs stretched out in your front. Raise both of your legs together as high as possible while you keep them straight. Raise your torso. Stretch your arms forward beyond your hips and as far as you can. Retain the pose for a minute.
Plank – Stand and touch your toes with your planks planted on the floor. Jump your feet as far back as possible, or until your elbows are locked and your back is straight. Retain the pose. Bend your elbows and lower your torso till it becomes parallel to the floor to intensify the challenge.
Side plank – Lie on your side and raise yourself up on the forearm that is closest to the floor. Lift your other arm to the ceiling and leave your body in a diagonal line off of the floor. Retain the pose. To intensify the challenge, pull the weight on your hand instead of your forearm. Repeat on the opposite side.
Tree Pose – The Tree pose appears simple at first glance, but it can prove challenging. It helps to improve your balance and core strength. To perform the tree pose, stand firmly on a leg, lifting the other knee, and press the sole of your foot into your thigh. Bring your hands to the heart center in order to still your mind, engage your core and test your balance.
Ice Skating Back Support
As an ice skater, you need a strong and flexible back to twist and perform layback spins without injury. These yoga poses will strengthen your back muscles and retain their flexibility:
Half Lord of the Fishes – Sit with your legs outstretched on the floor. Bend the left knee and place your foot on the floor outside of the right knee which is stretched out. Twist your torso. To hold the pose, brace your right elbow against the outside of your left knee. Repeat for opposite side.
Bow – Lie on your stomach with your arms at your side. Lift your torso and stretch your arms toward your feet. Bend your knees and raise your hip until you can clasp your feet. Retain the pose. The Bow pose is great for flexibility in the legs and hips. It requires a lot of balance.
Triangle – This technique opens your hips and strengthens your ankles. To perform this pose, straighten your right legs. Stretch your right aim forward. Touch the hand to the floor close to your right foot. Twist your torso and stretch the left arm towards the ceiling. Hold the pose for about one minute before switching to the other side.
Ice Skaters Leg Flexibility
Flexible hamstrings, strong quads, and open hips are important for sophisticated skating moves and longer programs. These poses stretch and strengthen legs as they improve balance:
Downward facing dog – Plant your feet and rock your hips up and backward from plank position. Repeat the action until you observe a stretch in your calves and hamstrings. Set elbows and knees straight. To intensify the challenge, raise a leg at a time as high as you can.
Warrior I – Warrior I is a popular yoga pose. It’s also a technique that is predominantly used off the skating ring. Warrior I helps to open the hip flexors and develop strength in the quadriceps. You will also feel a stretch in the groin and inner thigh as you retain the pose for at least a minute on each side. This pose improves your athletic focus and challenges your muscle power.
Warrior II – This is a standing yoga pose that augments stability, strength and concentration. The pose begins the same way as the triangle pose, but you need to twist your torso to overlook your outstretched right arm. Bend your right knee until your quad becomes parallel to the floor. Retain the pose for a minute before repeating on the opposite side.Pigeon – Pigeon pose is best done after skating to stretch your hamstrings, open your hips, prevent muscle soreness and relieve lumbar tension. Kneel on the floor and extend your right leg behind you till the quad touches the floor. Bend your left knee and tuck your foot under the right quad while keeping your knee pointed forward. Press your hands to the floor to gain balance and hold the pose for a minute. Repeat for the opposite side.
Pigeon – Pigeon pose is best done after skating to stretch your hamstrings, open your hips, prevent muscle soreness and relieve lumbar tension. Kneel on the floor and extend your right leg behind you till the quad touches the floor. Bend your left knee and tuck your foot under the right quad while keeping your knee pointed forward. Press your hands to the floor to gain balance and hold the pose for a minute. Repeat for the opposite side. See here for a picture.
Hero’s pose – Best done with toes tucked, this exercise places more stress on your heel and the tissue attached. It addresses the inflammation of the plantar fascia. Ice skaters rely on this pose to eliminate foot cramp and plantar fascia issues. Retain the pose, with toes tucked inward, for about three minutes to stretch and relieve pains in the arches. Breathe deeply and slowly while holding the stretch.
How Yoga Helps Ice Skating
Yoga balance for ice skaters
Balance is the DNA of yoga. The benefits of constant balancing is generally transferable to ice skating. Because yoga involves a lot of balancing postures, it causes you to wobble. By controlling these wobbles, your muscles become more stabilised and stronger. It is therefore fair to claim that yoga does increase your control muscles which act to stabilise the body.
Yoga features several one leg poses and side balances which are pretty helpful for ice skaters. When skating on ice, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time on one leg or another. When you skate on ice with both legs, it is ‘dual tracking’ and is used only when expedient. The various one leg poses and side balances put weight on that leg or a side of the core. Transitioning and retaining these postures is a way to build general body stability.
Falls and injury prevention with yoga
No matter how experienced you are at ice skating, falling will never be a pleasant experience. Ice skating is extremely dangerous even with the best preparation. However, yoga is hugely helpful when falls happen as it cushions the effect of injury. The more flexible your body becomes, the less serious your injuries will be when they occur.
When you become more flexible, your body parts will experience less tear and strain. You will observe that with some falls, the injury would have been rather grave if you were less supple. For instance, if you accidentally do splits on ice, would it be more painful if you are already accustomed to doing splits anyway? Flexibility cushions the effects of falls and reduces the seriousness of injuries when skating.
Core strength in figure skating
The caveat to this is to ensure you keep your head off the ice. If you fall backwards, there is a high chance of your bottom hitting the ice first. When this occurs, you are in a kind of banana shape, your head and your feet are up as your bottom hits the ice. As your body weight is transferred to the ice, the only things that stop your head from hitting the ice are more or less your neck and core muscles.
This is why you need to have good core muscles that are strong enough to keep your head from the ice. Even if you’re in a position where it’s impossible to avoid hitting your head on the ice, yoga practice will distribute the effect through your core thereby lessening the effect on your head. Core strength is vital to cushion the effects of some falls and yoga is useful for developing core strength.
Prevention of ice skating falls
The best part is that when you learn to engage your core in ice skating, it may save you from a fall. For instance, your body naturally wants to go in an equal and opposite direction (backwards) when you swing your leg forward. You can reduce the body’s urge to swerve from the swing with good positioning and tightening of the core. Many elements of yoga in ice skating promote good core strength which can help to prevent a fall.
Rehabilitation after ice skating injury
At some point in your ice skating exercise, you will fall. Regular yoga practice not only eases the seriousness of the fall, it also fast tracks your healing period. Note that the yoga practice that will generate such positive results must be habitual. Moreover, nothing substitutes the recommendation of professional medical advice in terms of your recovery and rehabilitation.
If you cultivate the habit of integrating yoga into your ice skating, it will make the otherwise dangerous sport a less formidable activity for you. With regular effort, your strength and flexibility will help you to make the most of your training on and off the ice rink. With yoga, a little goes to a lot if regular practice is involved.
Note that when you resume yoga practice after an injury, you need to take things easy. Sometimes, you think your body has fully recovered and you’re ready to resume your normal routine only to discover some sore areas. If you’re not careful, and drive yourself too hard, you’ll make them worse. Be gentle, go easy on yourself and take time to heal.
Conclusion, is yoga a core part of your ice skating training?
Incorporating yoga techniques into ice skating is not about changing yourself or the sport. It is about unleashing your body’s ability to enjoy a beautiful sport at minimal risk. Ice skating is a very demanding sport. Yoga can help you ensure you don’t sacrifice your body’s strength, flexibility, balance and coordination in the process.
All of these exercises can be performed at home, and Amazon has some very well priced products to help you. Such as a large selection of colours for a non slip yoga matt. And why not also Include some breathable comfortable gear to wear, so you can perform most stretches.
From building your core strength, back support and leg flexibility to understanding the specific ways yoga makes the most of ice skating, you are exposed to the transformative power of yoga to promote a good body image visually and aesthetically.
Yoga provides more strength to you and may result in external changes as your body tones. However, the greatest benefit is the strength of mind. You already have the knowledge you need. You have already become the person you need to be. Yoga is more about discovering your inner strength and will to fabricate the outcomes that are within reach. You can read about our other 5 best exercises for ice skating which you will find relevant to this article.
Keep working out and you may be able to pull off this ice skating pose one day!