Ice skating, whether in a heated indoor rink, on an outdoor pond or in your own backyard, can be an invigorating and enjoyable way to endure a long winter . All you need for a fun and effective workout is to be able to perform the basic skating strokes . You may be gold medal material and not even know it! So lace up and let’s get going .
• Purchase or rent a pair of good skates . Fit is crucial . Be sure there is minimal room for your foot to move around inside the boot . When you are trying on skates, wear the same type of socks that you will wear when skating . Blisters, cramps and sore feet are signs of poorly fitting skates or skates that have been handed down one too many times .
• Never buy skates a size or two bigger for your children so that they can grow into them . If they don’t fit, they hurt, plus they can damage a child’s feet . The wrong skates will adversely affect your child’s skating abilities and that’s the kind of thing that makes kids give up the sport .
• ”Floppy ankles”—when your ankles collapse inward or outward—usually signifies a problem with the skates . There is additional leather or, in less expensive skates, plastic that wraps around the heel for extra support . If the top of your skate flops over when you take it off, the skates are too worn and it’s time for a new pair .
• Unlike athletic shoes, skates take time to break in . Plan short skating sessions to start . After a few weeks of skating regularly, they should feel comfortable and mold to the
shape of your foot .
How to Get Started
• Keep your skates sharp . If you skate every other day, depending on the intensity of your workout, one sharpening may last two weeks . Professional hockey players sharpen their blades every day, sometimes even between periods .outdoor ice is harder and has more ‘grit’ and will require your skates to be sharpened more often .
• Dress to stay warm . Wear multiple layers of thin clothing . As your body temperature increases and you begin to perspire you can remove layers as needed . Avoid wearing clothes that are loose and baggy . They will not keep you as warm and may hinder your movement . Jeans are not ideal for a serious skating workout because they get wet and
weigh you down . We all know how horrible cold wet jeans feel! Warm tights and close fitting sweaters are the best options . If you aren’t in a heated arena, remember a hat
and gloves or mittens .
• Do not forget tissues . All skaters get a runny nose because of the cold .
• Many community rinks provide learn-to-skate programs for all levels from little ones to adults . They also have pleasure kating times and adults only skates . Some even have free skating hours on weekday afternoons and during holidays . Call your local rink for details .
Posture and Technique
• Always keep your knees bent . Skating is all about balance and the key to balance is bending your knees .
• Keep your back straight, not hunched .
• Hold your head up and look straight ahead, not down .
• “Stroking” is the basic movement used to get you across the ice . Transfer your weight from one foot to the other and push back and to the side to create the force to move
• To stroke backwards, bend your knees and pigeon-toe your right foot in . Push off with the ball of your right foot from the inside edge . Glide backward on your left foot . Bring
your feet back together for balance . Repeat with the left foot . Think of carving a big letter C with your pushing leg .
• When skating for extended periods in an arena, reverse your direction for half the workout if you can . This will prevent key muscles from being overused and fatiguing prematurely .
• To increase the intensity, add a hockey stick and puck .
• Wear a hockey helmet when you are starting out—that goes for you and your children . Unfortunately, many of us were brought up to believe that once you know how to skate, you throw away the helmet . However, the risk of a head injury is still there . Until more people wear a helmet it won’t be seen as a “‘cool’ thing to do . Also wear a helmet if you are stick handling and exercising at a moderate-to-high intensity .
• Never wear ankle weights to increase the intensity . The stress applied to the feet and legs could cause injury .
• If you want to skate for fitness, wear a heart rate monitor to see if you are skating within your target heart rate zone