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Recommended Stretching Exercises for Figure Skaters

Notes on Stretching

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Definition of Stretching: Lengthening of myofascial tissue - muscle / tendon / ligament / fascia

Benefits of Stretching

  • Increases the activity of the Central Nervous System which awakens the tissues and prepares them for activity.
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion of a joint.
  • Increases power and performance.
  • Prevents gradual shortening of muscle which leads to tissue damage and injury.
  • Improves posture.

How to Stretch

  • Stretching should be done when the tissues are warm.
  • Warm-up with an activity for 5-10 minutes or until the body is beginning to break a sweat.
  • Stretching should be performed through the normal range of motion of the joint.

Warming of the Tissue

  • Increases blood flow.
  • Increases tissue temperature of even deep tissues.
  • Increases the tissue extensibility.

Technique of Stretching

  • Stretching should be done in relaxed positions so that they can be held comfortably.
  • Stretches should never be bounced or create pain.
  • Specific positions should be used to stretch muscle groups.
  • You should stretch all of the muscles that will be used during your activity.

Duration of a Stretch

  • Hold the stretch for as long as is needed to allow elongation and relaxation of the tissues
  • The stretch is complete when the feeling of tension in the tissues is gone
  • This may take 10-20 seconds

Stretching Should be Done

  • After warm-up and prior to activity
  • Any time during the activity
  • After activity in your cool down
  • 2-3 times a day for rehabilitation and increasing flexibility

Physiology of the Stretch Reflex

  • The stretch reflex operates as a protecting mechanism
  • Overstretching or sharp movements cause the stretch reflex to be stimulated which causes a contraction in the muscle thus preventing it from lengthening
  • THIS IS WHY STRETCHING SHOULD BE DONE GENTLY AND WITH EASE

Warm Up Should Consist Of

  • 5-10 minutes of an activity
    • light jog, skipping, stationary bike
    • performed until the body is breaking a sweat and sufficiently warm
  • 5-10 minutes of stretching
    • stretch the muscles to be used during the upcoming skills
  • 5 minutes of sport specific warm up
    • 2 foot hopping, 1 foot hopping
    • jumping up and landing in the landing position
    • single jumps on land
    • walking through footwork on land
    • spiral and spin positions etc.
  • This should lead directly into your activity

Cool Down Should Consist Of

  • 5-10 minutes of an activity
    • light jog, walking quickly
  • 5-10 minutes of stretching
    • Stretch the muscles used in the activity just performed

Sport science resources for WO Coaches, Skaters & Clubs as developed by the former Skate Canada - Western Ontario Sport Sciences Committee

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