Sk8Strong's goal is to provide skaters with an off-ice training program that is sport specific, function-based, and designed to prevent overuse injuries. Instead of just looking at pictures, skaters, coaches, and parents can view each exercise and learn the correct movement patterns and biomechanics associated with each exercise. The exercises instructed follow the most current teachings in the world of strength and conditioning, and promote the most progressive training methods available for skaters today.
“WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL TRAINING?”
In the past ten years or so, sports training has progressed from solely using weight machines to using an athlete’s body weight as resistance in exercise. Many of the exercises in these DVDs incorporate the use of several muscle groups at one time, instead of exercises focusing on the contraction of a single muscle. How is this more beneficial? In every sport, an athlete moves his or her body in various planes of movement which require several muscles to co-contract at the same time. Each joint requires the strength from several muscles to stabilize it for the action it performs. Functional exercises train the body in these planes of movement to mimic the motions performed in sports. Many sports require a high degree of strength that an athlete may not have naturally; that strength needs to be created through additional training. Figure skating is no exception.....
“WHAT DOES A FIGURE SKATER NEED TO SUCCEED?”
1) Core strength and stability
Core strength originates from the abdominal and back muscles. These muscles work together to act as a ‘control center’ for the body’s balance and stability. In the sport of figure skating, skaters need exceptionally strong core muscles to maintain balance, check rotation and maintain a tight air position for jumping, control the center of spin rotation, and control the upper body position during footwork, stroking, and crossovers. A skater has to have a strong core to complete double jumps and beyond. Without sufficient core strength, a skater would not maintain consistency of these elements.
Think about how much of skating is done on one foot: almost everything! Some people are blessed with natural balance, but the majority of us need improvement through exercises. There are several factors which affect the sense of balance in our body. First, our vestibular system (the inner ear) helps us sense the body’s position while we are moving. Second, the eyes help us detect our surroundings. Third, and most important for skaters, the balance receptors in our feet and lower extremities tell us where our bodies are in relation to the ground.
3) Strength and power
Without muscle strength, a skater would skate very slowly, have small jumps, have shorter and slower spins, and would tire easily in a program and in practice sessions. Strength creates power and can improve endurance, and is the number one necessity for a skater to improve and become consistent. Through exercise, a muscle’s fibers become tighter and stronger, and can withstand more repetition for longer durations when asked to contract. Increases in strength can correlate with higher jumps, more stable landings, increased energy output, and increased ability to maintain a number of the spin variations required in the IJS.
Spirals, biellmans, donut spins, split jumps, spread eagles.........just to name a few elements that require extraordinary flexibility. Yet it may surprise you which basic elements require a certain muscle length to be performed correctly. Muscle flexibility controls the angle of the knee, hip, and ankle joint on a jump take-off and landing, and a small deficit in muscle length can affect the quality of a jump. Joint position and motion, controlled by the surrounding muscle length, also affects the angle of the joints in the lower extremity during basic stroking, crossovers, spins, and footwork. Each joint in your body needs a balance of flexibility on all sides to move in the proper range of motion. If there is an imbalance of muscle length, a skater may be more prone to injury.
Sk8Strong's off-ice training programs are designed to help a skater improve upon and maximize their potential in each of the above areas.
“I’VE TRIED IT MYSELF!”
As a full-time working mom with the continued desire to skate, I’ve learned how to balance a schedule and train effectively in the shortest amount of time possible. With limited opportunity for ice time, I need to complement skating with an off-ice training routine. By completing an at home program focusing on core work, lower and upper body strengthening, plyometrics, and stamina training, I have maintained consistent double jumps and can complete a 3 minute, 30 second program with only 1-2 hours of ice time per week! To my surprise, I have become more consistent than I was as a teenager, because I am doing the right things for my body off of the ice.