Ice skating is a very popular and widely watched sport, and is also regarded as a fun indulgence as a form of exercise. Ice skating originated about 4000 years ago, somewhere in Southern Finland. What originally started as gliding with crude forms of skates was later refined into the finer art of skating. Over the years, the simple sport of ice skating has evolved into three separate sporting events enjoyed at the Winter Olympics and elsewhere:
If you're looking to improve your ice skating or just seeking to prevent ice skating injuries it is important to follow the information in this article. In addition, adding a few simple stretches to your fitness program will also help. To get started on a safe and effective stretching routine that's just right for you, check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility.
In speed skating events, racers can reach speeds as fast as 30 mph. The Olympic men's speed skating events are held on oval tracks and the races involve distances of 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters for the men. Women's speed skating events use the same track and distances, except that there are no 10,000 meter races for the women. There are also short track speed skating events that are in essence relay races, with batons being passed by the skaters to members of their teams, just like in the track and field event.
Jackson Haines was the first person to skate to music, back in the 1860s. His performances included the use of ballet music as the background for his fluid dances across the ice. The popularity soon grew and the international competitions began to include the jumps and other skills, since the winner was judged by the audience in those days.
Now, Olympic competitions require entrants to perform a short routine with defined skill requirements, followed by a longer freestyle selection, where they can show off their skills to the music of their choice. There are also competitions for partners during the Olympics and all have their own set of skills that must be shown to the judges as well as specialties such as lifts, dips and synchronized movements.
Many professional figure skaters turn to ice dancing after they have retired from competition. Shows such as the Ice Capades and Disney's themed stage performances have kept the pros working long after their sporting career have ended. Much heralded skaters including Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski have all found fame on the smaller arena rinks across the country and have toured world-wide to much acclaim. These performances range from full out international dancing competitions and individual exhibitions to enactments of children's stories using ballet-like performances on ice.
Ice skating comprises of a series of spinning, twirling and gliding movements, all of which are executed gracefully over slippery ice. Almost all of the muscles of the body are used in this sport, from the leg muscles and abdominals to the arm muscles. Some of the anatomy involved in ice skating include:
Most Common Ice Skating Injuries
The movements are beautiful and at times mesmerizing; the speeds at which some skaters can move is blinding. However, one wrong move or even just hitting a piece of debris, can lead to a fall. According to research, ice skaters are nearly five times more likely to suffer either head or face injuries, as compared to inline or roller skaters.
The Top 3 Ice Skating Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don't make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won't be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for ice skating; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions beside each stretch.
|Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.|
|Kneeling Upper Hip & Quad Stretch: Kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward.|
|Standing Toe-up Achilles Stretch: Stand upright and place the ball of your foot onto a step or raised object. Bend your knee and lean forward.|
While the recommendations on this page are a good starting point, you'll get a lot more benefit when you include a wider variety of exercises. So to improve your athletic ability, reduce injuries and really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, grab a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility (Handbook, DVD & CD-ROM).
In total, they include 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretching exercises for every major muscle group in your body. Plus, over 80 printable stretching routines for 22 sports and 19 different muscle groups.
The DVD also includes 3 customized stretching routines (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core, plus a bonus CD-ROM that allows you to print out over 80 stretching routines that you can take with you where ever you go.
The Handbook and DVD will show you, step-by-step, how to perform each stretch correctly. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly. Check out the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility for yourself.