Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Warming up is more than keeping Warm

I wasted the first 3 years of my skating life by not warming up before I skated.

3 years of ice fees, 3 years of lessons, 3 years of time on the ice down the drain.

Then I was off ice for a year. This is about what happened when I restarted.

If you're a teenager or in your twenties you may not see the benefits of warming up. But once you hit your 30's the natural resilience of your body begins to fade. One day you say to yourself "I was a little 'off' today." and you wonder why. There's other little hints, the spiral that doesn't go as high as it used to, the sore knee that appears out of nowhere.  When you pass your peak of strength and speed in your twenties there is a gradual diminution of your skills; you can help deal with that with a proper warm up.

How did I get to be such a warm up hot shot?  I was taking a lesson with Coach Great Hair while Dance Coach was on his honeymoon. She flatly told me I needed to warm up, and that skating a half hour before a lesson wasn't enough. It was warm up tough love.

So before Dance Coach (aka Coach Frowny Face) got back from his honeymoon I had instituted a warm up boot camp. I stopped at a mall near the rink and did 45 minutes of fast walking including going up and down stairs as quick as I could without running. Then I got to the rink and did 10 minutes of stretching before I put on my boots.

After a month coach did his frowny face at the end of a lesson. "You're doing much better. Usually students get a little better a little at a time, but you just got better like an explosion. I've never seen it happen before."  Notice what he said: I had a SKILL EXPLOSION.  How many lessons is that worth? So even though it takes time, it's worth it.

Is there anything special about my warm up? Not particularly.  You want to get the large muscles of the legs warmed up and walking is excellent for this. Going up and down stairs warms up the knees. It's not rocket science. How long I take is due to my age. As I approach social security payment time, I find I need more time. It's a part of my life now. If I was younger I might jump rope or jog in place, but no one exercise is absolutely essential. What is essential is getting the blood moving into the legs.

What about stretching?

It's hard to do stretching at my rink because the party rooms are always booked, there's a hockey game in the rink area and no place in the boot changing area to do anything.  I've had to make do by finding a little corner off of the rink and doing 10 minutes of standing stretches. Holding each stretch for 30 seconds and repeating it 3 times does appear to be critical for me.  There's lots of books, articles and web pages out there about stretching. Pick the ones that work for you. I need stretches for my hips and I pick exercises for that.

Have I convinced you to warm up before skating? I hope so. I don't want anyone thinking as I do about the wasted money, time, and effort that I spent because I didn't think I needed to warm up before getting on the ice.


  1. I love stretching. I don't stretch before skating or a work out for fear of injury, but my post-skate stretch...aaaaaaaaaah... I'm going to have to ramp up my warm up, it appears. I could use a skills explosion!

  2. Let us know how it works out for you. The more data the better!

    It's funny that stretch/warm-up was the way to go 20 years ago, now it's warm-up/stretch. /shakes head/ how hard can it be to figure it out?