Skate Canada - Western Ontario
Western Ontario Sport Sciences Committee

Recommended Stretching Exercises for Figure Skaters

Stretching Exercises for:
Ankle Calf Complex Hamstring
Quadriceps Hip Flexor Adductors
Iliotibial Band Piriformis Gluteus
Neck Upper Back Low Back
Quadratus Lumborum   Chest Biceps
Triceps Forearm Flexors   Forearm Extensors  

  - area stretch will be felt

Stretch
Positioning
Reason
Ankle

• Standing with one foot behind the other,

• Point the foot/toes of your back leg over so that the tops of the toes are resting on the ground.

• Bend both knees slightly until you feel a stretch in the front of the leg and ankle of the back leg.

• Increased ability to point the toes

Example of a Skill
• Better line of the leg in dance and in edge sequences

• Free leg positions in landings and spirals

• Field moves (pivots)

Calf Complex




A
• Standing with one foot in front of the other,

• Slowly bend the front leg to shift your weight forward.

• Keep your back leg straight and press your heel to the ground.

• Hint: it may be helpful to do against a wall.

• You should feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg.

B
• Using the same position as above, bend the back leg to feel the stretch in the calf.

• Increased power for jumping.

• Increased knee bend

Example of Skill
• Increased knee bend and flow in dance and footwork

• Landings of all jumps

• Sitspin positions

• Field moves

Hamstring

• Position yourself on the side of a bench with the leg to be stretched straight in front of you and leave the other foot resting on the floor.

• Slowly lean forward at the hips keeping your back straight until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.

• This can also be done by sitting on the ground and reaching forward in the same manner.

• Increased ability to lift your leg higher to the front

• Decreased strain on the lower back

• Increased power for jumping

Example of a Skill
• Sit spin

• Split Jumps

• Jump take-offs

Quadriceps

• Standing on one leg,

• Reach behind you and hold onto the ankle of your other leg.

• Pull the ankle up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh.

• Increased power for jumping

• Increased extension of the hip and flexion of the knee

Example of a Skill
• Better lift into jumps

• Landings of jumps

Hip Flexor


For the right side:
• Kneel down on your right knee.

• Place your left leg in front of you at an angle greater than 90 degrees.

• Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the right hip (the side which you are kneeling on).

• Increased hip extension

• Decreased strain on the low back

Example of a Skill
• Increases the flexibility on landings and in dance positions of leg extension

• Layback spin positions (skating leg)

Camel spin positions (free leg)

Adductors


A: Sitting Down
• Place the bottoms of your feet together and allow your knees to drop out to the sides.

• Gently press on your knees towards the floor to feel a stretch on the inside of your thighs.

B: Kneeling
• Kneeling on one knee with the other leg straight out to the side,

• Point the toes of your straight leg up towards the ceiling.

Slide the straight leg slowly away from you until you feel the stretch on the inside of your thigh.

• Increased leg lifts to the side

• Increased power for jumping

Example of a Skill
• Flying camel, death drop, butterfly

• Spiral

• Jump take-offs

Iliotibial Band

• Cross one leg behind the other.

• Bend both knees slightly so that your knees are not locked.

• Bend over and reach towards the toes
of the leg which is crossed behind.

• The stretch should be felt on the outside of the leg which is crossed behind.

• Decreased compression of the femoral condyle and patella femoral joint

• Decreased lateral pull on the patella allowing it to have better mechanics

Example of a Skill
• Better line of the pelvis on cross behinds during footwork

• Cross foot spins

Piriformis

• Lying on your back with one knee bent to 90 degrees,

• Place the ankle of the other leg on the knee of the bent leg.

• Grasp around the thigh of the foot on the ground and gently pull your leg towards your chest.

• A stretch should be felt in the gluteus area.

• Increased power in jumping

• Balances the pelvis muscularly

• Decreased tension in gluteus area

Example of a Skill
• Increased flow on cross behinds and connecting steps

• Jump takeoff steps and fly sit spins

Gluteus

• Sitting with your legs out in front of you,

• Bend one knee and cross it over the other leg.

• Place your hands on/around the bent knee and pull it gently across your body.

• A stretch should be felt in the gluteus area.

• Do not twist in the lumbar spine.

• Increased stability of the pelvis

• Decreased mechanical affects on the sacrum

Example of a Skill
• Increases the flow of edges because of the ease in crossovers (Balance)

• Connecting steps/footwork

Neck


For the right side:
• Place your right arm behind your back at the level of your waist.

• Place your left hand on the top of your head.

• Gently with your left hand guide your head forward until you feel a slight stretch, then into left side bending (left ear to shoulder) and then into left rotation (rotate your head to the left).

• You should feel a stretch on the right side of your neck.

• Decreased tension in the shoulders

• Decreased tension in the neck

• Increased mobility in the neck

Example of a Skill
• Ease of expression with head movement and an increase in neck mobility

• Balance

• Layback spins

Upper Back

• Cross one arm in front of your chest, keep it at chest height.

• Place your other hand on the elbow of the arm crossed in front of you and pull your arm towards your chest.

• Leaning slightly forward and adding slight rotation may increase this stretch.

• A stretch should be felt through the shoulder blades and upper back.

• Decreased tension in the shoulders and neck

Example of a Skill
• Spinning/rotation for jumps

• Pair/dance positions

Low Back


• Sit on the ground, legs out in front of you and knees slightly bent.

• Tuck your chin towards your chest.

• Reach forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your low back.

• Decreased strain on the lumbar spine

• Decreased lordosis of the low back

• Increased flexibility in forward bending

• Decreased strain on the hamstrings

Example of a Skill
• Sit spin

• Dance posture

Quadratus Lumborum

For the Right side:
• Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

• Let your right knee bend to allow the right hip to drop slightly.

• Reach up over your head with your right arm and bend at the waist to the left.

• A stretch should be felt on your right side.

• Helps to prevent pelvic muscle imbalance

Example of a Skill
• Increased flexibility in side bending for layover positions

• Field moves

Chest

• Stand sideways about one foot from the wall.

• Place the arm closest to the wall up against it at shoulder height.

• Gently twist your whole body away from the wall to feel a stretch across your chest.

• Decreased rounding of the shoulders

• Increased power for jumps

• Increased extension of the arms

Example of a Skill
• Improved general posture which is pleasing to look at

• Balance and stability for all skating skills

Biceps

• Stand with your back to a counter or shelf (or you can just place your hand against the wall).

• Your arm should rest against or on something at shoulder height.

• Bend both knees slightly to feel a stretch in the front of the upper arm and or the shoulder.

• Increased drive up into jumps

• Increased extension of arms

Example of a Skill
• Increased in the height of jumps

• Field moves

Triceps

• Place one arm over your head and bend your elbow while holding a towel or a stick in your hand.

• Grab the other end of the object with your other hand by reaching behind your back.

• Gently pull down on the stick or towel with the lower arm so that you feel a stretch in the back of the arm which is over your head.

• Increased extension of your arm over head

• Decreases muscle imbalances

Example of a skill
• Lifts in pairs

• Arm positions over head in field moves

Forearm Flexors

• Hold your arm out straight in front of you with your palm facing down.

• Place your other hand on the palm of the hand which is held in front of you.

• Pull the hand upwards so that the fingers point towards the ceiling.

• A stretch should be felt on the under side of the forearm.

• Prevents muscle imbalances between the flexors and the extensors

• Prevents wrist injuries when you fall onto your hands

Example of a skill
• Press lifts in pairs and dance holds

Forearm Extensors

• Hold your arm out straight in front of you with your palm facing down.

• Place your other hand over the back of your hand which is held in front of you.

• Pull the hand downwards so the fingers point towards the ground.

• A stretch should be felt on the top of the forearm.

• Twisting the hand slightly away from your body may increase this stretch.

• Prevents muscle imbalances

• Prevents wrist injuries when you fall on your hands

Example of a Skill
• Press lifts in pairs and dance holds