Warmup Guide: Stretches for Figure Skaters

Written By: Riedell | January 25, 2024

Developing a solid warmup routine is essential for figure skaters. Ice rinks are cold, and muscles require warmth for flexibility. Muscle strains happen when muscles aren’t warmed up properly before experiencing the stress of a jump, spin, spiral, or even a fall. Warming up before you skate will improve your performance and decrease your risk of injury.

Learning how to stretch for figure skating boils down to developing a solid routine that involves a full body warmup and some dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches usually involve short, quick movements that get your muscles ready for the rapid contractions experienced during figure skating. 

We’ll walk you through a general guide of stretches figure skaters can use to warm up before getting on the ice and give some advice about developing a good routine.

How To Stretch for Figure Skating

First things first- you need to get your entire body warmed up and ready to go. There are plenty of exercises you can do to warm up your muscles and get them ready for more intense stretches. Start with simple neck rolls. Roll your neck in either direction eight times each by looking down toward your chin and then rolling your neck clockwise or counterclockwise.

Next, do eight ankle rolls in each direction. To do these properly, balance on one foot, then roll the free ankle in clockwise/counterclockwise circles. Then, you can jog for one minute and do a set of trunk twists. Do eight trunk twists on each side. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and twist at the waist to twist your torso side-to-side.

Once your full body warm-up is complete, do some dynamic stretches to target specific muscle groups. This will help improve your flexibility, strength, and stamina- making you an even better skater!

Rules for Dynamic Stretching

Like with most things, it’s helpful to have a set of rules to follow before you begin. Dynamic stretching involves using short, quick movements to get your muscles ready for action. But before you start a routine involving this, you’ll want to keep these rules in mind:

  • Always do a general warm-up for your body first, then stretch while your muscles are still warm.
  • Go through your range of movement while maintaining control over the movement of your muscles. While it may be tempting, avoid allowing the momentum to cause your arm or leg to be jerked or thrown around.
  • It’s common to feel some resistance while stretching but stop immediately if you start to feel any pain.
  • Start with slow, low-intensity movements, then naturally progress to quick movements

Dynamic Stretches for Figure Skaters

There are a variety of dynamic stretches perfect for figure skaters. These exercises will help you increase your flexibility and get your muscles ready to be put through the paces. Stretching is one of the best ways to work on becoming a better ice skater, so it’s important to set aside enough time each day to do your stretches before getting on the ice.

Take a look at this list of recommended stretches:

  • Knee Hugs: Step forward and pull one knee into the chest while balancing and extending through the standing leg. Hold for 2-3 seconds and alternate to complete four on each leg.
  • Quad Pulls: Step forward and grab the foot of your free leg while pulling your heel toward your buttocks. Push your hip forward for a deeper stretch and hold for 2-3 seconds. Alternate to complete four on each leg.
  • Walking Lunges: Take a big step forward, bending the knee to a 90-degree angle, and hold for 2-3 seconds. Alternate to complete four on each leg.
  • Straight Leg Kicks: Step forward and kick one leg in front while reaching for the toe with the opposite hand. Aim for eight repetitions. 
  • High Knee Run: Run quickly, pulling the knees up to the chest, for 10 yards.
  • Grapevine: Complete the distance of 10 yards while moving sideways. Cross your right foot over your left, then bring the left foot from behind to the side, and then cross behind with the right foot, and cross over again with the left. Repeat in both directions.
  • Toe and Heel Raise: Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Pull all the weight in the heels of the foot, raising the toes off the ground. Next, rock up to the toes and lift the heels. Repeat, holding each position for 1-2 seconds. Aim for 10 repetitions. 
  • Jumping Jacks: Aim for ten repetitions.

It’s helpful to work with your coach to determine a good routine that you can reasonably follow before getting on the ice each day. You can also try other exercises, like skipping or jumping rope. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you and provides your muscles with the boost they need to see you through practice or a competition.

Find the Right Routine

A successful routine is one that’s reasonable to complete in your day without causing extra stress. You also want a routine that can be done in addition to other training, like off-the-ice training in the summer

Work with your coach to develop a plan that works for you. If you skate with a group, talk to the other skaters to see what they’re pre-practice and competition warmup looks like. Remember to start with a full body warmup and then do a few dynamic stretches to ensure your muscles are ready for action!

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