16. Some Exercises  

As you must realize by now, the same directions keep running through skating instruction. They concern certain body move­ments that require understanding the muscular action involved. Over my years of teaching I have found that pupils do not auto­matically know what I mean by what seem to me the simplest directions. For instance, "pressing a shoulder backward" means always to press that shoulder blade into the backbone, using the latissimus dorsi muscles. It does not mean to exert pressure on the top of the shoulder in any way; in fact, you must be care­ful not to raise or tighten those muscles, as it will give an un­pleasant look of tension to your skating.

If you are finding it difficult to keep a strong forward bend on the skating knee and ankle with an erect body while you stretch the other leg straight, it may be because you have a shortened Achilles tendon. A good exercise to reduce the pull at the back of your heel is this: Stand at the barrier and hold on to it. Lift the toes of your skates against it, with your weight on the points of your heels. Allow your body to bend out back at first, then slowly pull yourself erect, keeping your knees rigidly straight. Gradually decrease the distance of your heels from the wall until the strain is intense. Daily stretching will help a lot. Another useful exercise is to face a barrier with both feet parallel a few inches from it, and then without moving your skates, bend forward until both knees are touching the wall. Make sure your pelvis stays over your feet. Gradually increase the distance of your toes from the barrier. Keep your skates flat on the ice; do not allow the heels to lift. The great Gillis Grafstom, whose footwork was the most sensitive of any skater I've seen, attributed a good deal of his suppleness to daily ro­tation exercises of the feet inward and outward from the ankle. A word to the wise should suffice.

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