Flexibility is important for any sport and any individual. However, flexibility is incredibly important for figure skaters and dancers. The positions these athletes need to put their bodies in go to extreme lengths at times. If your body isn’t used to moving that way, you’re putting your body at even greater risk of injury.
As a former elite ice dancer and current figure skating coach/choreographer, I understand not only the stress that is put on the body in the sport but also how proper training and mechanics can help your body stay healthy. The goal is to keep skaters’ and dancers’ bodies healthy and prevent as many injuries as possible.
If you’re looking for a general flexibility routine, try Leaner and Longer: Full-Body Flexibility Workout. This is also great as an additional flexibility routine for skaters and dancers.
Stretching for Injury Prevention in Sport and Dance
Stretching is key for athletes and dancers. If your muscles are tight when you’re performing a quick, high leg movement, your muscles are more likely to snap, resulting in a pulled muscle or worse. Some skaters, especially younger athletes don’t realize the importance of warming up before ice skating practice or cooling down after.
Ideally, the skater should perform a dynamic warmup off the ice. Then once the body is warm, they can perform some of the stretches they will be doing on the ice such as spirals. This is when you could use the flexibility routine before a session. Check out Injury Prevention for Sports: Warm Up for more information.
The best time to perform this routine is for cooling down after skating or dance practice and as an additional stretching session in the daytime when your body is already warm. If you’ve just been working out or practicing hard, do a fast walk, gradually decreasing the pace until you’re to a slow walk. Do this for approximately 2 to 5 minutes to let your body cool down gradually before performing your static stretches. Then go through the flexibility routine to complete your cool down.
Check out the other posts below in the Injury Prevention for Sports Series.
Flexibility Routine and Video
I’ve created this routine especially for figure skaters and the stretches needed to do many of the flexibility moves on the ice. This routine also works great for dancers, though, as much of the flexibility used is done in dance as well.
Work to keep good posture, lengthen your body, and keep your core tight (draw your belly button into your spine). Ease into the stretch and go deeper as your body allows. You should feel a deep stretch but listen to your body as well. If your body isn’t feeling very flexible on a certain day, take your time and go deeper as your body lets you. Each day you can try to go just a tiny bit further than the previous day in your stretch. Again listen to your body, though because you don’t want to pull a muscle. The first time you do this routine don’t go too far into the stretches. See how it feels on your body and you can go deeper the more times your perform the routine.
Enjoy your improved flexibility, performance, and body movements on and off the ice!