Exercises to improve flexibility/extension/strength

adultskater18

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
24
Hi all, I'm a fairly new adult skater (in my 30's) and I am definitely feeling my age when it comes to flexibility and extension of my body and free leg when I am skating. I can do a baby spiral and just barely get my leg up to hip level but I can't hold it for very long. And just in general, I feel like the extension of my free leg is crappy - I am weak and can't get it up/keep it up very high! I just started private lessons, and yesterday my coach worked with me on gliding with my free leg extended in various positions and - yikes. My flexibility is terrible. And even with the fairly short amount of time I worked on that yesterday, my lower back is sore today.

I would really like to work on it, but when I try to, I get pretty sore in my hips and lower back. I also had two babies back to back (youngest is 6 months), and I know my core is still fairly weak from that.

Does anyone have any recommendations of specific exercises, or maybe Youtube videos of certain types of yoga, workouts, etc.? I am not sure where to start. It needs to be something I can do at home, probably. I have an exercise ball at home, maybe something I can do with that?

I used to be a dancer as a child/teen and I was so flexible, and it is super disheartening to be so limited now!
 

Nimyue

On the Ice
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
381
Hi all, I'm a fairly new adult skater (in my 30's) and I am definitely feeling my age when it comes to flexibility and extension of my body and free leg when I am skating. I can do a baby spiral and just barely get my leg up to hip level but I can't hold it for very long. And just in general, I feel like the extension of my free leg is crappy - I am weak and can't get it up/keep it up very high! I just started private lessons, and yesterday my coach worked with me on gliding with my free leg extended in various positions and - yikes. My flexibility is terrible. And even with the fairly short amount of time I worked on that yesterday, my lower back is sore today.

I would really like to work on it, but when I try to, I get pretty sore in my hips and lower back. I also had two babies back to back (youngest is 6 months), and I know my core is still fairly weak from that.

Does anyone have any recommendations of specific exercises, or maybe Youtube videos of certain types of yoga, workouts, etc.? I am not sure where to start. It needs to be something I can do at home, probably. I have an exercise ball at home, maybe something I can do with that?

I used to be a dancer as a child/teen and I was so flexible, and it is super disheartening to be so limited now!

Any yoga will be helpful. I see Yoga with Adrienne plugged a lot in Yoga circles for youtube yoga. If you're very new to yoga, seriously consider going to a studio and joining a class. Once you know how the poses should be done, I LOVE the Down Dog app. It will randomize a flow for you based on the time you select and if you pay a little you can have it focus on a body part. Also consider going to the gym 1-2x/wk to do a total body resistance workout to strengthen your muscles. Pilates is another good option if weights aren't your speed. Another youtube I like following is Lazy Dancer Tips for barre and ballet workouts at home.
 

adultskater18

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
24
Thanks so much for the Youtube tips! That Yoga with Adrienne account looks promising. I don't have a gym membership and I don't really have time to go, unfortunately. But I know there are a lot of good options out there online. Maybe pilates on Youtube, too.

Now I just have to make myself DO IT... I have the best intentions, but after a long day after I finally get the kids to sleep, I want to collapse on the couch, not work out! :laugh:
 

Edwin

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 5, 2019
Messages
5,496
Now I just have to make myself DO IT... I have the best intentions, but after a long day after I finally get the kids to sleep, I want to collapse on the couch, not work out! :laugh:

LOL, all of us adults know this feeling, this problem with time management ...

But the usual adagios apply:
... no commitment, no results ...
... no pain, no gain ...
etc

But, better be safe than sorry as far as training goes, joining a general fitness/yoga/pilates club with professional supervision is beneficiary to prevent you from learning bad skills.
Once you've sufficiently mastered the basics, you can try those Internet only solo programs.
 

melgirl25

Medalist
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Messages
1,044
If your back is hurting you are probably arching your back and sticking your ribs out. This naturally happens to pregnant women and that shape can stick around for awhile! Take a deep breath, bring ribs down without tucking your pelvis simultaneously. You should feel a contraction in your upper part of your abs when you do this. You want to keep this feeling throughout your day and when you skate. Keep your core contracted as much as you can. It doesn't need to be a 100% contraction but you want to train yourself to keep it engaged. Eventually your body will learn to do this on its own.

Another thing I would suggest is getting a foam roller with some texture to it and rolling out your quads, glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings. You can use two tennis balls in a sock to get your lower back. Don't go over your spine though - just the muscles on the side of your spine. There are tons of youtube videos on this. Do this before you skate and after if possible. This will increase your pliability.

I like Pilates over Yoga in general. Lunges and planks are great too. It also may be worth it to go to a Physical Therapist and explain your situation. I bring my young kids with me to PT and have never had an issue. I just keep my young ones in the stroller. Skating in your 30s after having children is not easy and you don't want to injure your self.
 

adultskater18

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
24
If your back is hurting you are probably arching your back and sticking your ribs out. This naturally happens to pregnant women and that shape can stick around for awhile! Take a deep breath, bring ribs down without tucking your pelvis simultaneously. You should feel a contraction in your upper part of your abs when you do this. You want to keep this feeling throughout your day and when you skate. Keep your core contracted as much as you can. It doesn't need to be a 100% contraction but you want to train yourself to keep it engaged. Eventually your body will learn to do this on its own.

Another thing I would suggest is getting a foam roller with some texture to it and rolling out your quads, glutes, inner thighs, hamstrings. You can use two tennis balls in a sock to get your lower back. Don't go over your spine though - just the muscles on the side of your spine. There are tons of youtube videos on this. Do this before you skate and after if possible. This will increase your pliability.

I like Pilates over Yoga in general. Lunges and planks are great too. It also may be worth it to go to a Physical Therapist and explain your situation. I bring my young kids with me to PT and have never had an issue. I just keep my young ones in the stroller. Skating in your 30s after having children is not easy and you don't want to injure your self.

Thanks. I think I'm definitely arching my back when trying to extend my free leg. Guess I need to work on that! Foam roller is a good suggestion. I will check out some Pilates videos as well.

PT is actually a great idea. I probably should have gone while I was pregnant because I had horrible pelvic/low back issues the whole time (and I am not that big - 5'9 130 lbs and didn't gain that much) but of course I didn't. I was 95% better just from delivery so I never really followed up, but now skating and doing something that's putting stress on my pelvis/low back, I can feel it a little again. I don't know how much of it is a lingering issue, and how much is that my core and back are just weak from pregnancy/birth.

It's weird because sometimes physically I feel fine - I'm the same size I was pre-babies, I can do a lot of the same things, and other times it's like - yikes, not so much.
 

mskater93

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 22, 2005
Messages
3,416
You could also find a personal trainer who can work with your schedule for a few sessions who is familiar with exercises you can do at home to strengthen core and back. My personal trainer has a home gym and has experience teaching everything from yoga to Pilates to CrossFit and mixes them together. We work times that are convenient for both of us and I am definitely more fit and stronger than I was before we started working together. She’s more reasonable than a gym membership and I get a workout tailored to what I need.
 

mskater93

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Oct 22, 2005
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You could also find a personal trainer who can work with your schedule for a few sessions who is familiar with exercises you can do at home to strengthen core and back. My personal trainer has a home gym and has experience teaching everything from yoga to Pilates to CrossFit and mixes them together. We work times that are convenient for both of us and I am definitely more fit and stronger than I was before we started working together. She’s more reasonable than a gym membership and I get a workout tailored to what I need.
 

hanyuufan5

❅*:・。.✨
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May 19, 2018
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I think it's more just being out of practice than age.

Given the pelvic/low back issues you had with your pregnancy, I second seeing a physical therapist or personal trainer.

I was super-flexible in some places and absurdly inflexible in others my entire life. Then I fixed up my posture and learned how to stretch, and now I'm way, way more flexible than I've ever been before. Hopefully it's something easily fixable for you, too. Good luck!
 

Princessroja

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Echoing what mskater93 said! It's not that difficult to design an at-home program, but having someone evaluate your muscle weaknesses in person would be best. Failing that, I can wrangle together some helpful resources but I probably won't have the time until this weekend. In the meantime, my advice is probably going to be summed as strengthen your core (via Pilates or something gentle; don't fall into the bombastic crunches trap!) and strengthen/stretch your hips. Lunges and squats are pretty easy to learn--there's a lot of videos about good technique on YT. You probably know some basic hamstring and hip flexor stretches from your time as a dancer. Start there, and start gently. Good luck, and I'll try to come back and post some solid resources soon. :)
 

DanseMacabre

Final Flight
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I'm with everyone who's suggesting working with a trainer or going to yoga or pilates classes where your instructor can supervise your form. But when I'm home and can't make it to a class, I find Cassey Ho's Blogilates YouTube channel really nice. She has beginner pilates videos that still give you a good strengthening workout without overly taxing your body and stretching routines that have really helped my recovery and flexibility. Good luck!

ETA: 500th post! :hap85:
 

jf12

Final Flight
Joined
Dec 8, 2016
Messages
619
I use the video subscription service Ice Dynamics by Kat Arbour - she trains a lot of elite figure skaters off ice. I trained with her in person before, and we're no longer in the same area. The exercises are specifically designed for back, core, flexibility, and fast twitch training skaters need, which is what I love about it. However, I think the videos do assume some background in doing off-ice workouts.
 

wobblepro

Rinkside
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
50
Want to echo the advice someone else offered. As a former dancer, you may get a lot of benefit from the Lazy Dancer videos on YouTube, which are designed to be done at home using something as simple as a chair as a barre. Videos range from 5 minutes to around an hour and include barre and center exercises as well as videos for specific kinds of work (like exercises for better arabesques). I recently returned to pointe and used the videos to help with conditioning to make that possible. It has definitely helped on the ice.

Other thing that helps is just stretching and gently pulsing extensions for like 10-15 beats whenever you're, say, washing your hands or something like that. Slip in little exercises throughout the day to supplement the more intentional workouts.
 

Princessroja

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adultskater18

Rinkside
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Jan 15, 2019
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Wow, those USFS print outs look fantastic! That's what I need - some stuff I can just print out and hang up in my house and work on while my kids are playing. PERFECT.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions! I have a lot of great resources now to work on.
 

Ange

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Messages
62
Does anyone have any recommendations of specific exercises, or maybe Youtube videos of certain types of yoga, workouts, etc.?

Definitely go to a professional to assess your technique at first. Even though I grew up doing gymnastics and dance, when I came back to stretching in my adult years I was doing it wrong and apparently had the potential to do some damage to joints. Once my form was fixed, I noticed much greater flexibility gains. Once you've got a stretching routine, the more often you stretch, the better your flexibility will become. I started noticing larger gains after a year, so stick with it even if it feels like you're not getting anywhere in the moment!

I also do yoga and pilates. Mat pilates is excellent for core strength. Doing 2 classes a week over 6 months really strengthened my core. Yoga is good for strength and flexibility as well, though I'm not the biggest fan (but everyone is different). Pilates feels like more of a workout for me, and there are levels of each exercise so you can have as tough or as light a workout as you want.

Off ice training has also been excellent for me. If you have coaches that don't charge too much for that, this is excellent for building muscle and cardio endurance. I finally got to a sit spin position and back up doing off ice and I started out thinking I'd never be able to do a pistol squat :laugh:
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
43
Hi all, I'm a fairly new adult skater (in my 30's) and I am definitely feeling my age when it comes to flexibility and extension of my body and free leg when I am skating. I can do a baby spiral and just barely get my leg up to hip level but I can't hold it for very long. And just in general, I feel like the extension of my free leg is crappy - I am weak and can't get it up/keep it up very high! I just started private lessons, and yesterday my coach worked with me on gliding with my free leg extended in various positions and - yikes. My flexibility is terrible. And even with the fairly short amount of time I worked on that yesterday, my lower back is sore today.

I would really like to work on it, but when I try to, I get pretty sore in my hips and lower back. I also had two babies back to back (youngest is 6 months), and I know my core is still fairly weak from that.

Does anyone have any recommendations of specific exercises, or maybe Youtube videos of certain types of yoga, workouts, etc.? I am not sure where to start. It needs to be something I can do at home, probably. I have an exercise ball at home, maybe something I can do with that?

I used to be a dancer as a child/teen and I was so flexible, and it is super disheartening to be so limited now!

not being able to do a spiral might not just be flexibility but also lack of hamstring muscle/strength. The deadlift is the best way to strengthen your hamstring, especially because it's a multi joint movement just like everything you do in figure skating. Start with dumbbell deadlifts and 1 foot deadlifts and work towards deadlifting about 1x your bodyweight, then your spiral should be much better. The deadlift also engages the core if done correctly, which you might find useful.
 

VictoriaSanderson

Spectator
Joined
Aug 25, 2020
Messages
3
Nice recommendation guys! I have started recently to practice both pilates and yoga. I combine them because they improve my flexibility. My mom is a pilates instructor, so guess why I practice both. Yoga it's not so interesting from Youtube, not the same motivation. If somebody finds useful, go to a group yoga exercices. Begin with the simplest one, I assure you will find peace and harmony in your body and your soul too. If it's interesting for somebody check on Google om symbol meaning and find out more about yoga.
 

skatingbeast

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Nov 14, 2019
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I second what a lot of others have said. When thinking about extension it’s not just just about flexibility but also strength. Kathryn Morgan has some great videos on strengthening your back for arabesques and stretching routines. Just take it slow at first when you first start out. If your hips bother you don’t for get to stretch them. Foam rolling before stretching can help increase your ability to stretch. You can find foam rolling routines on YouTube as well.


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