Warming Up the Knees and Ankles (Douglas Webster)

Professional choreographer Douglas Webster teaches a class on warming up properly after stepping on the ice.  Instead of racing around the rink to warm up, Doug offers a set of exercises that are more effective at engaging the ankles and knees while still getting the heart rate up.  He takes a few moments to explain the importance of this kind of warm up.  Doug argues that a mentally focused warm up with attention to knee and ankle bend and placement is one of the most important aspects of skating.

The first exercise is the simple swizzle.  The key is to bend before pushing.  Due to how many young skaters initially learn swizzles (sometimes called “bubbles”), they commonly do not bend the knees at all.  Obviously that is not beneficial for warming up the knees and ankles.  The class starts with forward swizzles and then switches to backward swizzles.

Next, Doug has the class do forward lunges.  Here the focus is not only on knee bend, but knee placement over the toes.  It is not wrong to keep the knee directly over the ankle in a lunge, it’s just not as effective during a warm-up for developing both knee and ankle bend.

The next exercise is the forward hockey glide (sometimes referred to as a hockey lunge) on a deep edge.  Again, notice the focus on knee and angle bend and knee placement over the toe.  And another thing you can observe in the video, although Doug does not talk about it, is upper body position and movement.  See the variation in the way the skaters carry their bodies and see which ones look best to you.  After forward hockey glides, Doug has the class do them backward.  He repeats this over and over, “Bend, push, bend push” as a constant reminder to bend before pushing.


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