Importance of Off-Ice Warm-Up and Cool Down (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh discusses the importance and need for setting aside time in a skater’s schedule for a proper off-ice warm-up prior to practice sessions and proper cool downs after practice sessions. Warming up the body and muscles off-the ice is typically more effective and more efficient than warming up on the ice, and it also reduces wasted time on precious on-ice sessions. Michelle says, “It’s very important to have a structured off-ice warm-up that you do consistently.” A proper cool-down includes flexibility training (when the muscles are still warm) and an emphasis on muscle recovery and injury prevention.

Michelle recommends a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes as a warm-up for lower level skaters and a similar amount of time for a cool down. She recommends 45 minutes to an hour for more advanced and serious skaters (including the elite level), and at least an hour of cool down and stretching after an on-ice practice. Michelle says the typical ratio of on-ice to off-ice training recommended by elite coaches is 50/50. So if an athlete skates 2 hours a day, doing another 2 hours a day in off-ice training is recommended.


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