Strengthening the Feet (Kristina Anderson)

Figure skating coach and certified strength and conditioning expert Kristina Anderson offers two methods for strengthening the feet. Many skaters suffer from weak foot muscles, sometimes as a result of the extra support provided by the skating boot itself. Kristina begins by noting that many aches, pains, and injuries in the knees and hips are a direct result of weak feet. She offers a tip-toe test to identify whether a skater has weak feet or not.

The first exercise she shows to strengthen the feet uses a therapy band and is placed over the arch of one foot (the base) and around the ankle of the target foot. The skater can then allow the target foot to flatten (collapse) with the band, and then work against the band to create the desired foot arch. Focusing on pressing with the big toe of the target foot is important. Kristina also suggests light jogging or running while focusing on pressing through the big toe. She suggests that this be done after a few weeks with the therapy band.

The second exercise is basically a balance exercise on one foot, while standing on a short length of “pipe insulation” from a hardware store (lengthwise on foot). The required balance work automatically strengthens the foot muscles, and Kristina recommends increasing the difficulty by playing games that distract the skater from specifically focusing on balance. She recommends bouncing a tennis ball and playing catch as a way to reduce the use of eye focus as a primary balance method, demanding more automatic control by the central nervous system to maintain balance.


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