Watching women’s ice skating is like being whisked into a magical crystal wonderland.
It’s so beautiful, elegant and moving.
When watching Japanese super star Mao Asada skate, it’s hard not to hold your breath.
Mao Asada is a Japanese competitive figure skater. She is the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, a three-time World champion (2008, 2010, 2014), a three-time Four Continents champion (2008, 2010, 2013), and a four-time Grand Prix Final champion (2005–06, 2008–09, 2012–13, 2013–14). She is the only female figure skater who has landed three triple Axel jumps in one competition, which she achieved at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
She currently holds the world record for the ladies’ short program score.
She can be inspiring if you thought about taking up ice skating. It can be so fun.
“My mother introduced me to many different things, and figure skating was one of them. I just thought that it was magical having to glide across the ice.”…Debi Thomas
It can also keep you in great shape.
We have a guest writer providing some reasons why it might be a great idea for the whole family to give it try.
Keep Fit by Ice Skating and Playing Ice Sports
Ice sports are a popular form of exercise and a great way of getting fit – and they’re not just for winter. If you’re interested in giving ice sports a go I have some tips.
Ice sports have a host of health and fitness benefits. Skating helps improve co-ordination and balance, burning 450-600 calories an hour – or 950 if you’re speed skating. Leg strength is helped by regular ice skating and, according to a study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, taking up regular ice hockey can increase bone density.
Which ice sport is right for you?
There are lots of different sports that involve ice, each with their own unique benefits. Some of the options include:
Ice skating – a form of skating exercise performed on ice.
Speed skating – a high-adrenaline, fast-paced sport involving skating at speed on ice.
Figure skating – similar to ballroom dancing but on ice. Individuals or couples perform ice skating routines and moves to music.
Curling – similar to boules, curling involves skill and strategy, as two teams of four players slide heavy polished granite stones across the ice to a circular target.
Ice hockey – the game of hockey, but adapted for ice.
How to get started with ice sports
If you’re keen to take up an ice sport, it’s a good idea to find a reputable instructor or course to give you access to all the equipment and training you need.
You can get a taster for ice skating at seasonal ice rinks but, to find permanent rinks or various types of ice skating lessons, the National Ice Skating Association is a good place to start.
To find an ice hockey team or club in your area, the English Ice Hockey Association Recreational Section can help.
If you’re tempted to try curling, the English Curling Association has information about curling lessons.
Ice skating requires leg strength, as well as a combination of co-ordination, balance and flexibility.
Without the specific muscle and balance training, you will not only progress at a slower rate, but also run the risk of injury. Good leg strength is also important for other ice sports, such as ice hockey and curling.
In order to build leg strength, try sitting against a wall with your knees at a 90 degree angle, holding on for as long as possible. At first, you may only be able to hold this position for less than a minute but, with regular practice, you will be able to hold on for much longer.
Getting the right Ice skates
Ice skates are, by design, meant to fit when they are laced up. As the boot is laced, the foot will draw into the back of the skate. Ice skates that ultimately fits properly will, more often than not feel small when the foot is placed in the boot prior to lacing it. So when you put the skate on, be sure to give your heel a good kick into the back of the boot and then lace it up.
Gym exercises for ice sports
The following exercises are also beneficial for ice skating and other ice sports.
They are probably best undertaken at a gym unless you have a weights bar, dumb-bells, gym ball and wobble board at home.
To help strength and speed
Do three sets of 10 thigh squats with a weights bar across the back of your shoulders.
Lower your knees to a 90 degree angle, lifting up to a standing position.
Do one set at a slow speed, the second faster and the third faster still.
Perform this twice daily, three days a week.
To help strengthen leg and knee muscles
Do four sets of 20 knee lunges, alternating between legs.
Step forwards, lowering each knee down to 90 degrees. To make it more difficult, hold a dumb-bell in either hand.
Perform this once a day, three times a week.[adToAppearHere]
To tune the core abdominal, pelvic and back muscles needed for balance
Sit on a gym ball and lift one leg off the ground, whilst using the other to roll the ball back and forwards. Change leg and repeat four times.
Follow this with standing on a wobble board, or on one leg with your knee partially bent, whilst swaying and trying to maintain your balance until you get tired.
Once you become skilled at this, add in flexing and extending your hip whilst balancing on the opposite leg. To promote suppleness and reduce the risk of injury
Always stretch after exercising, ice skating or other ice sports. Stretch all the tendons around the legs and lower back.
Sit on the floor and stretch your hamstrings by reaching for one foot at a time with your legs out straight.[adToAppearHere]
Lean against a wall and stretch your Achilles tendons by pushing your heel to the floor with your knee straight, while the opposite knee is bent.
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