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  1. #1
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    Stretches for Better Spiral Positions

    Hey everyone,

    I want to improve my spirals. Right now my coach says I have a very good back position, good speed, and good depth to my edge (inside and outside), great and all, but I'd love to have better stretch of my free foot. Right now I can barely get it to be parallel to the ice, and I want to improve it.

    I'm not looking for fast results, but is there a stretching exercise or 2 that I can do daily that mainly focuses on improvising my leg flexibility? I'm hoping in a year or 2 I can get a 100-105 degree position, which is waaaaaay more appealing than the 85-90 degree I'm currently hitting.

    Thanks a lot!

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    Is it flexibility (ability for the muscles to get into a >90 split at all) that's holding you back, or strength (ability to hold the leg in that position)? From what you say, controlling the edge doesn't seem to be a problem for you, although I do find that inside edges are harder to control in that position that outside.

    When I started doing spirals again as an adult, I practiced the position holding onto the boards, in skates, either on the ice or outside. I'd lift the free leg as high as I could and try to hold for 8 counts. This helps with the strength in back, butt, and leg muscles to hold it up.

    You can also bend the standing leg after you get the free foot up in the air to lift it a little higher. Or get a coach or someone else to lift the leg for you to reach a higher extension than you have the strength to support on your own.

    If you do this off ice without skates, your free leg should get even higher, but the balance will be different. It will give you a good idea of how much flexibility you already have.

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    past advice from Nicole Bobek : 'I was doing spiral in my kitchen'


  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Is it flexibility (ability for the muscles to get into a >90 split at all) that's holding you back, or strength (ability to hold the leg in that position)? From what you say, controlling the edge doesn't seem to be a problem for you, although I do find that inside edges are harder to control in that position that outside.
    For me it's flexibility, I can't get my free leg past the 90 deg. I'm wondering what are some great flexibility and stretching exercises that focus on improving the flexibility of the muscles required to get my free leg past the 90 degrees?

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MR-FAN View Post
    For me it's flexibility, I can't get my free leg past the 90 deg. I'm wondering what are some great flexibility and stretching exercises that focus on improving the flexibility of the muscles required to get my free leg past the 90 degrees?

    Thanks!
    Not a skater here but an avid yoga practitioner. Some of these may help:

    http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2338 (you can also open up the hip and bend the knee to get a greater hip turnout, like this: http://www.doyouyoga.com/wp-content/...g-Dog-Pose.jpg)
    http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/863

    You need to have both strength and flexibility in your hips as well as your glutes, but also flexibility in the hamstring of the standing leg. I recommend this site where yoga stretches are sorted by anatomical focus; look at any of the hamstring, buttocks and hip stretches. They will help. http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/fin...cus/hamstrings

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    The spiral is such a different feel when you are in your boots, as opposed to the floor, because your toe is pointed down in the boot. It also takes glute strength to lift the free leg with the weight of the boot on it.

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    Stretch your hamstring, adductors (inner thighs) and psoas (hip flexor). Strengthen your lower back and gluteals.

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    Practicing a split (gymnastics - front split) every morning in the kitchen helped me with my spiral.

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    I really found improving mine was all about back strength.

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    The others are correct! You need to figure out if it's your core/back strength or hip/leg flexibility. It could simply be that your back is weak, or your hips aren't yet capable of the kind of flexibility required for a Shizuka Arakawa spiral. I'm working on the same thing and slowly improving.

    There's lots of Pilates core work and yoga stretching that will help. A Barre DVD or class will do a skater tons of good as well! And for added strength training you can add wrist and/or ankle weights or free weights. In addition to Jillian Michael's workouts I also enjoy the Ballet Beautiful DVD series. For the back I found this link from Livestrong and have been doing these consistently (all of these moves are somewhere in my weekly exercise routine): http://www.livestrong.com/article/23...rcises/#page=1

    It's the arabesque position that we do as a spiral. One exercise that has been absolutely helping me is standing at a barre, kitchen counter, washing machine, or something else equivalent. You'll do a one-legged plié with your free leg fully extended behind you on the surface. Do 5 with your free foot down, then five with your free foot lifted (if you're able to maintain the lift... work on it!!), and repeat three to five reps. When in the bend of the plié, your stretch or the lift of the free leg will be more than 90 degrees. You should also alternate the one-legged plié with the leg lift while bent, and then lift standing tall. You may also challenge yourself to lift and hold that spiral position as long as you can. Eventually, by working all of those muscles, you'll be able to lift higher and higher with ease.

    You need to focus on your balance, core/back strength, and extension. Really pull your abs in, stretch up through your back (don't tip forward), and squeeze your butt tight. Make sure to alternate legs as well to make the muscle groups work evenly.

    Certain stretches like the split and pigeon also help with leg extension. Just make sure you do not bend forward, which would release the control in your core and back.

    While on the ice you can do the same plié stretch at the barrier before doing it moving down the ice. The same rules will apply: tight core, stretched back, and squeezed booty! Don't let your chest dip down! Nothing annoys me more than a spiral with the chest position below the hips... I think it's sloppy technique and unappealing!

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