This is a continuation of our previous blog where we talk about the two biggest building blocks of skating. The second most important building block of skating is knee bend. Believe it or not, good knee bend can help your posture! Your lower body, specifically your knees can be thought of as shocks in a car, while your upper body can be thought as passengers in the car. Your knees need to be soft enough to minimize bumps for your passengers, while having enough rigidity to not collapse from impact. Separating your lower body from your upper body will help keep a smooth ride for your upper body to allow you to handle a puck more effectively.
Your knee is a hinge joint—it only allows movement in one plane (sagittal; allows for flexion and extension). Ideal knee bend is about 90° during a stride and about 70° for the rest of the time. More knee bend (flexion) allows your centre of gravity (CoG) to be lower (increasing your balance), while providing you the potential for a longer stride resulting in more power. Did you know that your skate blade is about 3mm wide? That means, at any given moment, you are standing on a maximum width of 6mm! With such a small room for error, any major shift of your CoG will cause you fall or sacrifice power in your stride or shot. With more knee bend, your CoG lowers, giving you more stability and balance—two things important for hockey players. Furthermore, more knee bend allows for more extension; as knee flexion increases, the potential for knee extension also increases. More knee extension will lead to a longer push and more power (if done correctly). Remember, power can be thought of as how fast you can move your leg forcefully over the longest displacement (P = Fs/Δt). So, to skate the fastest, push with as much force as possible over the farthest amount of distance in the shortest amount of time!
Good knee bend does not guarantee speed; remember velocity = distance/time. It is how fast you get from point a-to-b; that being said, knee bend will give you the potential to skate faster. Some key points for good knee bend are keeping your knees in-front of your toes, keeping your hips bent in a neutral position and having good ankle bend. If your knees stay behind your toes, your hips will stay backwards keeping a large portion of your weight behind you. As we touched on in the posture blog, any push downwards on your lower back will make you fall backwards because your hips act as a lever point in your body. Another common mistake we see is anterior pelvic tilt (rotating your pelvis back to create a larger curve in your lumbar spine). Anterior pelvic tilt creates less stability in your torso and can cause hip extensor tightness resulting in a weaker stride and more instability. You want to keep your hips in a neutral position to maximize power and stability. Finally, because you want to maximize the surface area of our blade on the ice, you need a lot of dorsiflexion in the ankle. Since your knees are in front of your toes, there is a small angle between the top of your tarsals and your tibia; that means you need a large range of motion in your foot, ankle, patellar tendon, and calves.
Proper knee bend can be easily achieved through off-ice training. One of the best exercises to practice good knee bend and to strengthen your quads and glutes is body weight/weighted squats! You can try this in front of a wall (as a postural guide), where your toes are about 5 inches away from the wall, drop down into a 90° squat keeping your knees over your toes and your head looking forward. When you reach the bottom of your squat, pause for a second before coming up (try for 10 reps and 3 sets). If you want to challenge yourself, try working out barefoot. Don’t allow your footwear to be an ergogenic aid or hindrance. During the majority of on- or off-ice exercises you want to have good knee stability, while keeping your knees, hips, and shoulders in a line vertically. Any deviation inward or outward may be a sign of muscle weakness or tightness. Remember, always warm-up before stepping on the ice or working out. As always, if you have any questions about knee bend or any beneficial exercises, don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Instagram or Facebook!
See you on the ice!
We are starting a new blog series and it will be about our foundations of skating. The first topic we want to address is posture; it is one of the two most important building blocks of skating. Posture is the orientation of our body in space; it can be thought as the framework of our movement and is dependant on many things. Some factors that affect posture are bad muscle memory, muscle tightness, muscle weakness, injuries, and body contact. Most of these factors are compensations, but they all have one common theme: they move your centre of gravity (CoG) away from its normal position. Your CoG is about two inches behind your belly button in a neutral standing position; if it moves too far in one direction, you will fall. When you lean to one side, there is more weight on that side, moving your CoG to that side. In a squatting position, your hips move slightly backwards, and your chest moves slightly forwards—this moves your CoG forward, outside of your body. Note that when we are squatting on the ice, it is important that our weight stays on the back half of the blade when you are preparing to skate forward; this allows us to generate the most power for our forward stride. Remember, great posture doesn’t create great skating—it enables great skating.
The easiest way to get great posture on the ice is to start with great posture. It is much harder to correct posture mid stride than maintain the starting posture. If you can’t perform the proper posture stationary, you won’t be able to do it moving or under pressure during a game. This is why we make all our skaters start in their “set-up” position before every drill. In the set-up position, we look for a couple of things: your skates should be around shoulder width apart, with their skate blade on a slight inside edge, your knees should be bent to around a quarter squat, your hips should be underneath your body (not sticking out behind you), your chest should be upright (we should be able to see the logo easily), your head should be in a neutral position with your eyes looking forward, and your hands are should both be on your stick, in front and away from your hips with a slight bend in the elbow of your grip hand.
We find this position to be the most advantageous to start skating from and handle a puck from. Your feet are close enough where you can maximize your stride length, your knee bend has your quads loaded for a push, your chest is up maintaining good balance, your eyes are up and ready to scan your surroundings, and your hands are away from your body allowing them to move freely for or with a puck.
The most common mistake we see skaters make is having their chest down. As we mentioned earlier our posture moves our CoG; with your chest down, your CoG moves forward even more. Our body compensates by straightening our knees, moving our hips further back, and putting our weight on the front half of the blade instead of over firing our back and abdominal muscles. It is important to note that your thorax is the heaviest segment of the body, followed by your pelvis. That means if you move your chest forward by 3 inches, you’ll need to move your hips back by more than 3 inches to keep your CoG in the same position. Any gentle nudge pushing down on the small of your back will send you flying backward or any push on your upper back will send you face planting.
Our coaches want skaters to try to maintain the posture in the set-up position throughout the entire drill because it is the most efficient position to generate a powerful stride, while being balanced and in control. If you have any questions email us at email@example.com or DM us on Instagram or Facebook!
See you on the ice!
What is Lace Bite?
Lace bite is inflammation of the tibialis anterior tendon, and it’s usually caused by friction. This friction occurs when the foot is in dorsiflexion because there is very little subcutaneous fat and muscle to protect the tendons. Dorsiflexion causes the flexor tendons to press against the top of the foot, making them more susceptible to lace bite. If you’re wearing stiff skates, or stiff tongues, very common with new skates, then your tendons will suffer through extra pressure.
If you just got off the ice after a practice or game and your anterior medial part of your foot (the top of your foot) is in a lot of pain, then there are a few things you can do to ease the pain. NOT medical advice: ask a Dr. before taking any medication.
An NSAID like ibuprofen can help ease some pain and swelling.
Ice your foot on the sore spot for 15 minutes on, 45 minutes off, repeating until you feel relief. Remember to put a soft cloth between the ice and your skin to avoid damage to your skin.
Heat. The literature isn’t conclusive on the effectiveness of heat for acute injuries and inflammation but this may be something to consider. One of the concerns with heat is that it may increase inflammation.
While the common recommendation is to rest and avoid the ice until you feel better, athletes know this is an absurd request. So below we are going to offer some advice on how to deal with this pain.
Wear clean dry socks, STOP wearing wet, crusty socks. Come on.
If your tongues on your skates are stiff, work them in a bit.
A product, formerly known as Gel Socks, has a thin layer of gel on the inside and some cushioning on the outside. This helps ease pressure and friction on your ankle when you wear them in your skates. A picture is available below, and a link to the site is available as well. (NOT an advertisement, we make no commission, just sharing a product we support).
Another alternative, and cheaper, is to use sponges underneath your socks above the points of pain. Be careful using too thick of a sponge because they can defeat the purpose by applying even more pressure on your foot.
Donut sponges. These are little sponges that have holes in the middle of them. If the pain is isolated to a small area these may be beneficial.
In Closing, Lace Bite can be very painful but taking time off isn’t an option for this level of injury. Try some of these recomendations and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Levitsky et al. Lace Bite: A review of tibialis anterior tendinopathy in ice hockey players. Translation Sports Medicine 2020. 3:4;296-299.
Mike Walden. Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis. Sports Injury Clinic.
We are excited to share with you that rinks are starting to open! We want to thank all of our clients for your continued patience with us.
Things are very different, and they will continue to be different for the near future, that said the arenas have more restrictions, more rules, and less ice. As of now we are only offering private/semi-private lessons. The ice availability that we have, will change week by week.
A general list of what the rinks are doing differently is: signing waivers, limited interactions, restricted access to specific facilities. We can explain in detail what the changes are if you’d like to reach out to us through email.
We are only offering private/semi-private lessons because we are limited to a five (5) skaters on the ice during an ice-hour, which must include coaching staff. We are dividing our ice into halves so we can have two coaches teach two different lessons with a maximum of three (3) students. This means if there is one coach teaching a lesson, there is a maximum of four (4) students.
To limit the number of people in a facility at a time, ice slots are spread out leaving time in between them for sanitizing and prep work. This also means ice availability is limited.
We look forward to working together with the rinks, and our clients to make sure we stay safe, and move forward.
I hope everybody is staying safe and well out there.
Obviously, our spring session hasn’t started yet, even though it is springtime, and we can’t say for certain when this session or the next can begin. Like the rest of the world, PowerSkating Academy is in a state of limbo.
For example, I still have most of my spring ice contracts with the rinks, so in theory we could start up in June. Yet no one knows when we can actually restart on-ice training or what form that will take.
For now, all spring, summer and summer camps have been put on hold. For those who have already paid, I have been asking that these be held as a credit toward future sessions, once they resume. I’m hopeful we can restart with a shortened spring, or that we can shift current registrants into summer classes or clinics and fall sessions. I am very thankful for those of you who have accepted this arrangement and I completely understand those of you who have requested a refund.
In the meantime, we are providing free Zoom/FaceTime lessons for our skaters to help everyone to maintain some progress during this enforced pause in face to face training.
Also, I hope you have been following us on Instagram and Facebook. We have been putting some informational videos, off-ice training and lesson ideas out there.
I’m encouraged that the NHL is working frantically toward a playoff for the 2019-20 season, and the GTHL is trying to organize the start of their 2020-21 season. Who knows what it will look like, but these are encouraging signs.
As the province slowly starts to reopen, I hope to get back to work on the ice with all of you soon.
Thanks, and let’s stay in touch,
To reach us:
Questions? Get in touch with us at (416) 406-0550