Minnesota (where I live) is renowned for cold winters and heavy snowfalls. We are having our first snowstorm of the year as I write this, and it’s looking like we are going to have a very white Thanksgiving. I personally love “children’s” winter activities like sledding, building snow creations, and snowball wars. Another very popular wintertime sport is ice skating. If you are someone who likes to skate, you are probably very familiar with the balance and coordination it takes to glide around on the ice without feeling like a klutz. One thing you can do right now to make skating less of a challenge is to strengthen all those little balancing muscles in your legs and core. Most people focus on strengthening the big muscles (like the hamstrings, biceps, and abs) and forget all about the smaller, supporting muscles. These 5 exercises are the perfect addition to round off any workout routine and will have your muscles ready to keep you injury free this winter while you skate.
Single Leg Bridge – This exercise engages all the main muscles in your legs, as well as your smaller stabilizers. To make this move easier, do a regular bridge with both feet on the ground. To make it more difficult and to target your calves and ankle muscles (very important when skating), do a single leg bridge with your toes pointed and your heel off the ground.
Sumo Squats – This wider version of the regular squat really targets your inner thighs, improves hip mobility, and if you do it on your tip-toes, it will really strengthen your ankle and calf muscles.
Calf Raises – Calf raises are an easy way to tone all the stabilizing muscles all the way up both sides of your legs, while especially targeting your calves. You can do them with your toes pointed outward, with your feet wide apart, or close together. It’s great if you can also hold a weight while you do them to really increase your strength.
Jump Rope – Jumping rope is really great for burning calories and toning the legs. It also really strengthens the muscles in your feet and ankles, which is very important if you have flat feet like me. Get creative with this exercise. Don’t just jump up and down over and over for endless reps. Move side to side. Try alternating jumping with one leg at a time for 5-10 reps. Jump rope also engages the stabilizing muscles in your core – a must if you are going to be ice skating.
Lateral Jumps – Lateral jumps are awesome because they mimic the motion of skating. One thing that will help you get the most out of this exercise is to land on your toes so that you activate your ankle and feet muscles. This also helps your knees and hips absorb the shock of jumping.