Figure skating is a continuous balancing act on a surface that presents even more challenges. The sport puts a constant strain on the ankles, knees and hips as skaters attempt a combination of dance and gymnastics maneuvers on the slipperiest surface of all — ice. Yet choosing to be a figure skater doesn’t mean you have to risk soreness or injury every time you step on the ice.
Yoga is a practice that is similar to figure skating in many ways and complements the sport by promoting strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and confidence. All of these skills and abilities can be taken directly from your yoga practice to the ice, where you’ll be less susceptible to injury and, ultimately, more successful.
The following are several yoga poses that, through regular practice, can help you be more graceful and confident on the ice.
Tree Pose is a posture that looks simple at first glance, but can be challenging until your balance and core strength have improved. This pose involves standing firmly on one leg, lifting the other knee, and pressing the sole of the foot into the thigh. Bringing the hands to heart center stills the mind while the core is engaged and balance is tested.
Warrior One is an iconic yoga pose. It’s also one of the most useful off-ice exercises for figure skaters. Warrior One aids in opening the hip flexors and developing strength in the quadriceps. The groin and inner thigh will also feel a stretch as you hold this pose for at least one minute on each side, improving your athletic focus and challenging your muscle power.
Hero’s Pose With Toes Tucked
Certain types of exercise place more stress on the heel and its attached tissue and can cause inflammation of the plantar fascia. Hero’s Pose is a favorite for eliminating foot cramping and plantar fascia issues. Hold the pose, with toes tucked inward, for at least two to three minutes to stretch and relieve any pain in the arches. Breathe slowly and deeply while holding the stretch.
Triangle Pose is one of the best figure skating stretches for spirals, because it strengthens the ankles while opening the hips. This pose is performed by straightening one leg while reaching the arm on the same side forward, then bringing that arm to the floor or a yoga block. Reach the fingertips of the opposite arm toward the sky to open the hips. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute before moving to the other side.
Does Yoga Help With Figure Skating?
The answer is yes. Off-ice exercises for figure skaters are an essential part of gaining the strength, balance and confidence needed to perform well on the ice. Yoga’s ability to provide all of these benefits as well as improved flexibility and intentional breathing make regular yoga practice an ideal way to improve your figure skating and manage adrenaline on the ice.