Slaloming with flexion and extension

Once, as a child, I attempted to put on roller skates but the feeling of instability was overwhelming and I soon gave up and went back to my bicycle.

Two years ago, I started ice skating and I really enjoy the sensation. I adopted a Feldenkrais approach to ice-skating: do less, try to initiate a movement from different limbs, observe the tonus of the limbs, observe the point of pressure of the foot during various movements and mostly important… have fun!
skates-2001797_1920I spent last week in London exploring flexion and extension in various settings during the London 3 Feldenkrais training, it was a fantastic experience that would be quite long to summarise in few lines.

Last Sunday, back to the ice rink with my daughter, I was thinking about how to apply this new way of moving to a specific aspect of ice-skating and, as I always found slalom on skates quite challenging, I decided to approach it thinking about flexion and extension.

If you ever attempted to slalom in a packed ice rink,  and you are not very gifted, you will be familiar with sneakily pushing the external foot to regain some speed after you almost collided with someone, or, as an alternative, to arrive at a sudden stop after losing rhythm in a too abrupt curve.  Usually, when I practice slalom, I end up my session with quite a lot of tension in my upper legs and knees. Another important point is how you build up the speed to start slaloming; the easiest is just start with a push and make a transition into the slalom.

This time I made the choice to start slaloming using a vertical elliptical movement of flexion and extension going up through the body from the toes of one foot through the hips and the spine up to the head and down to the opposite one. I started with really a tiny movement but very quickly I gained speed without having to change much in the amplitude of the movement. I had  like 10 fast laps, where I seemed always be able to adapt the rhythm to the changing speed dictated by the mutable traffic conditions. I paused, started to do other things, and after a while went back to slaloming trying to keep this wave going whilst focusing on the sternum and the upper ribs and it all just seemed so fluid and effortless, even some transfer of the weight to the back heels; Usually the point where I panic and I tell myself, I am so in trouble now!  I am so going to faaaaall!!  bacame only a point within the wave propagating through the legs, the hips and the spine  and as such I just managed it within the comfort of the transfer of weight.

Even better when I ended my session, I felt completely refreshed and no parts of my spine and body felt to have worked too much.