Thursday, June 28, 2012

SkateForm
 overview

So this summer I'm running five weeks of SkateForm, or well, I ran three weeks and now Trix is going to do two weeks of "vertical skateform," you should go. I've already written a little bit about where this practice fits in the phases and objectives of training. In short, SkateForm is a low intensity practice focusing on core awareness and endurance as applied to skating form. It's appropriate for beginning skaters or as an offseason refresher for skaters of all levels.

I often think up workouts to do with others because they're too hard to do by myself, or in the case of SkateForm too boring. Ha ha, definitely more Enya than Violent Femmes. In SkateForm, we pay a freakish amount of attention to muscles that we would never give the time of day during the season. Core muscles are like wallpaper, you don't really notice them unless they're not covering what they're supposed to. So now is when we hang wallpaper like crazy, we get five weeks and then we don't get another chance to be this self-indulgent until I don't know when again. Five weeks to establish an lightning neural connection to my core muscles, so that I can find them and fire them every which way especially up.

1a. Supine stability

We start supine, i.e., lying on our backs, to use the floor as a cue for proper body alignment. Almost all of us lie a little bit curled up where we should be flat. We start with the lower back, which is naturally arched, but arched too much in most of us, so we gently press our spine to the floor to get back to neutral. It's pretty typical for lower backs to be tight and bellies to be weak, so we work on engaging the belly to relax the back.

Then moving up, we pay attention to our shoulders. Again it's pretty typical for chests to be tight and upper backs to be weak, so you see a lot of shoulders curled up off the floor. We work on engaging the upper back, i.e., shoulder blades, to pack the shoulders back into their proper position.

1b. Supine mobility

Stability's all well and good, but it's not good for much if all we can do with it is lay around. Now that we know what stability feels like, we try to hold on to that feel while moving our arms and legs like dead bugs. I don't know why it's called dead bugs, surely dead bugs don't move—

2. Side stability and mobility

Quick turn to our side, just to reorient ourselves and reestablish stability in another position without the floor at our back. The goal is to be as flat and straight as we were with the floor at our backs, just like a plank turned on edge. Then we do some leg raises to add a mobility challenge.

3. Quadruped stability and mobility

Another turn to all fours. Reorient and reestablish stability while doing donkey kicks and fire hydrants.

4. Prone stability and mobility

Take away the support of all fours and reestablish stability in a prone position—i.e., plank. Mobility comes into play when we do pushups.

5. Standing proximal and distal mobility

I think people probably do the least standing core work, which makes no sense. When do you think you need your core the most, when you're lying on your back, which is what you're practicing when you do crunches, or when you're being all bipedal and master of the universe? Especially when you're being all bipedal and master of the universe on wheels? Yeah. If you have any other practice with me, it starts with this whole section as a warmup. We work the whole range of motion of shoulders, hips, and ankles, achieving balance through core stability.

6. Squat

Then we do squats. The thing I want you to always remember about a squat is, it starts by hinging your hips back.

7. Lunge

Then we do forward and side lunges. The thing to remember about a lunge is, it finishes by transferring your weight to the forward leg.

8. On skates standing proximal and distal mobility

We put on skates and do all of the above standing proximal and distal mobility while rolling around the track. And go big or go home, you have to be able to do everything that you can do on shoes on skates.

9. On skates squat and lunge

Then we practice squats and lunges—i.e., we do speed laps. That good skater form is a squat, which starts by hinging your hips back. Those good skater steps are lunges, which finish by transferring your weight.

10. Stretch

Finally we stretch, but I teach a different kind of stretches for SkateForm. These isn't about evenly stretching your whole body, these are long stretches that are meant to correct tightness in the chest, the lower back, and hip flexors that cause and are caused by posture imbalances.

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