Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Easy Off-Ice Anywhere Figure Skating Strengthening Exercise

The one thing that separates figure skaters from the rest of the world is we spend a lot of time on one foot.

So here's the exercise: Stand on one foot.
Be subtle, no one will know
You can do it while you're waiting in line, while you're cooking or washing dishes, brushing your teeth or even when  you're in the office.

I do it in the elevator, with all my stuff (lunch, drinks, purse, day timer) on one side. Let me assure you, this is hard. Not only am I fighting the unbalanced weight, but the movement of the elevator and the little bounce at the end when the elevator stops. Try it sometime, that little bounce at the end is a son of a bitch on one foot.

I have to admit, I wear flat shoes, so you ladies who love the high heels--good luck with that.

I know, you're yawning. So go and stand on one foot. How long can you do it? 

Well, I don't know how long I can do it. I get to a minute, then I get bored and stop. Yeah, lazy. I think I could go to a minute and a half.

And while a minute is good for a woman in her 60's, it's not particularly good for a woman in her 30s.  Here are the stats.

And while I'm good with my eyes open, I'm awful with them closed. So, blech!

There is some technique to this.
1. Don't raise your free leg until your hips are in the correct position.
2. Using your arms and hands to balance is an opportunity to practice slow and graceful movments.
3. Don't raise your arms above shoulder level after your leg gets tired.
4. You can practice rising on the ball of your foot and setting back down as an exercise in building strength in your ankles.

So, that's it. Simple, subtle, useful.


  1. I got bored and stopped after 4 minutes. So I'm way outside the reported mean for my age group (42 ± 10 sec). What started to get tired was actually my bent free leg, so I kept it happy by periodically changing positions slowly. Including a sort-of scratch spin position and a spiral, neither of which I can actually do on the ice yet.

    1. The problem with data like this is that it was gathered in a time and place where people weren't necessarily very fit, so it probably doesn't apply to fit modern adults
      Good for you for 4 minutes! I'll have to rise to the challenge.

    2. Good point; I didn't bother digging up the full paper to put it in context.

    3. OK, I have grading to do, so instead I dug up the paper. It's from 2007, so not that old. But a couple of things about the methodology: First, subjects kept arms crossed and free foot at ankle level and not touching the other leg (trials ended if the person moved their arms or free foot). More importantly, though, trials were ended after 45 seconds no matter what. So the averages given can't be more than 45 seconds, even though some people could have been quite capable of going longer. So while it's useful information, I shouldn't be comparing it to what I was doing.

  2. I incorporate foot position by putting it in toe-to-heel position, and also do it on a Bosu. You can also up the ante by doing it as the ending position on a step-up, loaded or unloaded, offset-loaded or not. The variations are countless. Have fun! Add an RDL too!

  3. I do this all the time! Like JGC, I also use the toe-to-heel position. I do not think I have tried it on an elevator, but I always do it on escalators.

  4. I haven't tried the elevator trick. I shall start challenging myself. I only do it during housework or when waiting for the coffee pot to boil...