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Thread: Returning skater having difficulty getting my legs back

  1. #1
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    Returning skater having difficulty getting my legs back

    Hello all- I'm a 47 year old returning skater after 30 years away. (I found out Torvill & Dean came out of retirement to do Dancing on Ice and it reminded me of how much I used to love skating and the old 80s and 90s stars).

    I'm so frustrated. I didn't expect to magically have all my skills the moment I stepped on the ice, but I just wonder what reasonable expectations are. I went skating in March, used rentals, realized they didn't fit remotely correctly, and went to a professional fitter and ordered proper skates.

    After getting the skates, I had three sessions that went well or as expected. Can get around, third time started doing super basic skills (swizzles, slaloms, one foot glides, snowplow stops). That third time was the first time I fell (which I must have fallen absolutely correctly, because it literally didn't hurt at all). However I must have done something to my knee, because later that day it was twinging badly like I'd twisted it.

    Through all that, I've still been struggling to balance correctly. My first few minutes on the ice are always terrible, but I get on with it and it gets a little better. I *am* out of shape and sit down to rest as often as I am on the ice.

    Yesterday was my fourth session and it was like the first time all over again. Couldn't balance, lots of flailing, couldn't get a groove going. I was so worried the whole time I was going to fall. Then I got caught in a really deep rut the hockey players left and it pulled that knee and it started hurting, so I decided to leave, only fifteen minutes in.

    Since getting the skates, I've been on the ice approximately three hours. Yes, I know that's not very much. I'm at the rink twice that time, sitting down the rest of the time. Even with yesterday's bust, I felt like getting on the ice as often as possible is the best thing I can do to eventually find my balance. But it's starting to feel like I'll never have it again.

    I was originally thinking of doing an adult LTS skate starting June 4th, and I now think I won't be ready yet by then. (both short on stamina and poor balance). If there are any skaters here who started as an older adult (say over 35), how long did it take before you were moving comfortably and competently on the ice? I'm not giving up yet, but wish I knew how long it will take.

  2. #2
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    I started at 43, having never really skated as a kid, except occasionally on frozen ponds in the winter. I find at this age everyone is different, and there are so many factors that determine how quickly one will, or won't, become comfortable on the ice and progress--time spent on the ice each week, the ability to work with a coach or take group lessons each week, general fitness level--just to name a few. Personally, during the nearly 6 years I've been skating, my progress has been very (almost painfully) slow, but it is progress nonetheless. I have gone from barely being able to stroke down the ice, to passing through Adult Learn to Skate 6, as well as my adult pre-bronze moves in the field test. I am now working on my bronze moves in the field (going on three years now, but never mind ) and a few basic jumps and spins. Enjoy the journey and the rest will follow.

  3. #3
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    Yes, at 47 it will take a lot of time to get your muscle memory and balance back.
    I took many years off after passing my adult gold free skate at 40 (when I was in my best shape). Came back a few years ago and am still working to get my spins and jumps back, but they are coming along nicely now.

    Don't rush it, you'll get there. I think you could shoot for that June 4 LTS and having a coach go over skills will move you along. But first pay attention to your bunged up knee and see a doctor if it's still in pain.

  4. #4
    Rinkside
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    I'm a 51 year old, who returned to the ice 18 months ago, after 18 years off. I stopped skating rather abruptly at the age of 31 as I managed to damage my right leg rather badly (I was training rather than coaching when I did it) and had to have a fairly major operation to put it almost right. My right patella had to be removed and realigned, which involved 2 screws, 17 staples and the severing of my thigh muscle above the knee, leaving me with absolutely no control over my right leg whatsoever. Nothing. Couldn't even twitch it to start with. I could wiggle my toes, but not actually move the leg. Still, I relearned to walk and then decided 18 months ago that the time was right to see if I could relearn to skate, even with a leg that will never be stable and has no muscle memory. Seemed like a good idea at the time...

    So in answer to your questions, it's terrifying. Absolutely terrifying, even after 18 months. Don't get me wrong, I love it and I'm inundated with requests to start teaching again, which leads me to believe that my game face is good, as obviously nobody can see that I'm terrified and I must still have some vestiges of good technique! My leg doesn't learn quickly and as I have to think through walking when I stand up, relearning things like choctaws, back three turns and rockers leaves me barely able to string a sentence together later in the day. My stamina is, frankly, appalling and I get giddy after too many three turns. I can spin, but coming out of it is unpleasant as I get very, very dizzy. I find Sea Bands (little wristbands with accupressure studs) help with the dizziness a little. I'm only now getting to the stage where I could possibly skate for longer than 90 minutes but it does depend very much on what I have been doing and whether I've been standing around teaching other people (which actually helps my brain recall what I used to do) or tying myself in knots trying to master (UK) Level 9 Field Moves! Too much of those and it's more like knitting with legs than skating and I end up in a heap...

    When I get on the ice, it still feels scary. Every time. I'm always anxious. I also wonder if I'll ever feel comfortable and natural and happy with my skating again. But then, as I realised this morning, I don't think I ever was particularly happy with my skating. Apart from one glorious day when I was 14 and it honestly felt like I could do anything. I've never forgotten that feeling but I don't expect it to come back any time soon!

    Be kinder to yourself. It's a whole different ball game when you're older. I now understand a lot more about how adult learners feel than I did when I was teaching them before! It is scary, it is alien and it is more difficult. Adults often also expect more of themselves than is reasonable. So take your time, sit out when you need to and - this is very important - check that the blades on your lovely new skates are actually sharp enough. I've lost count of the number of people who've said, "Oh, but the shop said they were sharp/they'd sharpened them," but there's really only a shallow factory grind, which isn't conducive to doing anything well.

    And if you feel you want to wear protection/padding, then wear it. If it helps your confidence, it's a good thing. (The same goes for lucky socks!)

    A LTS course (preferably with other adults) would be an excellent way to progress. Start right back at the beginning and lack of stamina/skills won't matter a jot. You'll make new skating friends who will provide a lot of support and encouragement, which makes the whole process much more fun.

    Good luck - and enjoy the journey.

  5. #5
    "I came to break the wall that rose around you..." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    It's going to take awhile. Give it a chance. Take that LTS class in June because it will help you more than hurt you.

    It's going to take some time for your skates to break in. Also, start doing some kind of off ice activity to get in better shape and help your stamina.

    Pilates are good start and some core training exercises.


    Good luck! Welcome back to the ice!

  6. #6
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    I skate with many people who were either in their twenties, late thirties or early forties when they took up skating again after a sometimes 1-2 decades long break (some of them after having kids). They all skated as children/teenagers up to single axle and some double jumps. None of them had much trouble adjusting to the ice (and most of them weren't exactly leading an active/athletic life as adults, so that's not the reason).

    Basics like stroking, edges, crossovers, 3-turns and mohawks were all still there the first time they stepped onto the ice. They could also immediately do most single jumps except axel and basic spins like upright (forward and back) and sit.
    Obviously those elements weren't super consistent or controlled, and it took them some time to do them comfortably and in a secure way again, but they could definitely still pull them off right away.

    Now you're a few years older than these skaters, so I don't know if that's the reason you've been struggling more and of course it will vary for every person. But in any case, I would expect you to have a huge advantage over any adult that starts out as a complete beginner later in life (at least that has been my experience so far) so once you're comfortable again on the ice, you should notice how much your past experience and muscle memory will help, so that's something to be looking forward too .

  7. #7
    Rinkside
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    I started skating for the first time EVER (never skated as a child) about 6 months ago. I'm 32 and I have 2 kids. I definitely feel every change in my body due to age/childbirth when I'm on the ice and not in a good way. Ha. My endurance has definitely improved over the last 6 months- in addition to skating, I'm trying to do stretching/yoga and a little jogging. It is a little depressing with how slow my progress has been, but I think that's more due to lack of time to practice. I'm working on pre bronze moves in the field.

  8. #8
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    To clarify, my question was about trying to figure out how long it will take before I can just be on the ice without staggering or flailing. I had one session where at the end I did some very very basic skills. I thought I was finally getting somewhere, as poorly done as they were.

    I thought the knee pain was gone two days ago, so I went to the rink (the fourth session I reference in my post). But after 15 minutes that pain was incredibly intensified. It's not nearly so bad off ice, but it is now bothering me a bit more, two days later. Dr. Google informs me I probably have patello-femoral syndrome. In my case, it's because I have no strength in my quads, hamstrings, glutes, or core. (seriously. when I fell? I was not able to get up by myself, not even when I crawled over to the wall. The rink guard had to help me up). I knew that, I was hoping that skating again would help that.

    I've also really realized how poor my balance is. I'm not able to stand on my non dominant foot for more than a second. So clearly all this is my issue. While my knees feel like this, I certainly can't skate, and if I don't improve my lower body strength and balance, it will just recur. So, I need to find exercises I can do off ice. And I really, really, want to skate. Regardless of how much I just spent on semi custom skates (a lot), I just want to skate. And at my age, every year it will be harder.

  9. #9
    GS Supporter Tavi...'s Avatar
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    Why not try a balance board for balance - this is the one I have (there are probably cheaper ones available but I used and liked this brand in PT):

    https://fitter1.com/products/profess...balance-boards

    For strength, it sounds like maybe you might benefit from taking a class, seeing a PT (if your doctor will prescribe and your insurance covers it might be $20-30 session) or even hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions?

  10. #10
    "I came to break the wall that rose around you..." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MCsAngel2 View Post
    To clarify, my question was about trying to figure out how long it will take before I can just be on the ice without staggering or flailing. I had one session where at the end I did some very very basic skills. I thought I was finally getting somewhere, as poorly done as they were.

    I thought the knee pain was gone two days ago, so I went to the rink (the fourth session I reference in my post). But after 15 minutes that pain was incredibly intensified. It's not nearly so bad off ice, but it is now bothering me a bit more, two days later. Dr. Google informs me I probably have patello-femoral syndrome. In my case, it's because I have no strength in my quads, hamstrings, glutes, or core. (seriously. when I fell? I was not able to get up by myself, not even when I crawled over to the wall. The rink guard had to help me up). I knew that, I was hoping that skating again would help that.

    I've also really realized how poor my balance is. I'm not able to stand on my non dominant foot for more than a second. So clearly all this is my issue. While my knees feel like this, I certainly can't skate, and if I don't improve my lower body strength and balance, it will just recur. So, I need to find exercises I can do off ice. And I really, really, want to skate. Regardless of how much I just spent on semi custom skates (a lot), I just want to skate. And at my age, every year it will be harder.
    As I said before: Pilates, core exercises, barre is even good. And it's low impact, so if you have a knee problem it should be ok to do these.

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