How to Do an Off-Ice Warm-Up

When it’s time to warm up off-ice, most skaters tend to skip the warm-up completely or just do the bare minimum. This is dangerous. As with any sport, if you jump right in without any warm-up, you greatly increase your risk of pulling a muscle or having an even more severe injury. However, what you do for off-ice warm-up is based on your age and what type of skater you are. 

Off-Ice Warm-Up for Recreational Skaters

If you are a recreational (non-competitive) skater under 30 who is most interested in doing basic skating maneuvers and maybe a few spins and jumps, you should be okay just starting off slow skating around the rink. Since you get stiffer as you age, if you’re over 30 I would recommend doing 15 to 20 slow off-ice squats, 20 high-knee raises, 15 ankle raises, and 15 shoulder rolls in your sneakers before getting on the ice. While this is not mandatory, this very minimal warm-up will help get your legs, knees, and shoulders working so you are less stiff when you begin skating. 

Off-Ice Warm-Up for Competitive Skaters

For all competitive skaters, it’s always a good idea to do at least a minimal warm-up before you get on the ice. This helps avoid the initial stiffness when getting on the ice and gets your body warm before you do anything vigorous. I would recommend doing at least a minimum of jogging up and down the side of the rink. For a full warm-up, do the grapevine exercise next (cross your feet over back and forth quickly while moving sideways) halfway down the side of the rink and back. Then, do high-knee skips halfway down and back. After that, do 15 to 30 seconds of high-knee running in place. This should at least get your heart rate going and your joints loosened up. If you still don’t feel warm, you can double the length of these exercises or add additional warm-up exercises such as jumping rope and jumping jacks. 

Now that your heart rate is up,  I would do some dynamic stretching (stretching that incorporates movement), such as front kicks while moving forward, back kicks while holding onto the wall, heel raises, body rolls, and arm circles. These dynamic stretching exercises will help stretch out your muscles while warming them up in the process. While dynamic stretching is more beneficial for warm-up than static stretching (non-movement stretching), I always did some static stretches to help improve my flexibility. By using both static stretching and dynamic stretching for warm-up, I felt looser and avoided injuries.

Cooling Down

Also, keep in mind that cooling down is the best time to do static stretching because your muscles stretch easier when they are warm. Plus, streching during cool-down helps alleviate any soreness you may feel after your workout. I’ll talk more about cooling down in the next article.

Whatever you decide to do, try spending at least a few minutes warming up before skating. It really does help you avoid injury.

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May 13, 2010