I have a new client who is a figure skater and I would like any suggestions that you would have on training her. She is a senior in high school and is at a pretty high level with figure skating but has currently not been training due to a ankle injury. I plan on working stability, strength, and power with her but any specifics would really help.
First of all, and this goes without saying, get a medical clearance for the ankle injury prior to training. Once she is cleared, begin with an integrated Kinetic Chain Assessment. You may have assessed her prior to the injury, yet, it is important to RE-assess following an injury of this nature. The assessment should be three fold at MINIMUM:
- Standing postural assessment (see PTontheNET.com POSTURAL PROFILE by Lenny Parracino)
- Active ROM assessment (see PTontheNET.com MUSCULAR BALANCE OR FLEXIBILITY PROFILE by Lenny Parracino)
- Transitional flexibility assessment (see PTontheNET.com OVERHEAD SQUAT: TOTAL BODY PROFILE by Lenny Parracino)
Specifically regarding acute ankle injuries, research has demonstrated that following this type of injury, the gluteus medius has decreased electromyography activity. This leads to synergistic dominance of the tensor fascia latae and the gluteus minimus. These muscles internally rotate the femur, which increases stress in the lower leg and knee.(1)
So essentially, something as simple as an ankle sprain can have fairly serious implications further up the chain over time. I can not stress enough how important it will be for you to take the time to address and investigate these possible issues with your newly injured/rehabbed client. Take a look at the diagram below.(2) Listed are muscles that have been shown to be very prone to FACILITATION (tight/short-needing STRETCHING), and INHIBITION (weak/long-needing STRENGTHENING). This is especially true for athletes.
Athletes are highly subject to REPETITIVE STRESS. By this, I mean, repeating the same TYPES, RANGES, INTENSITIES, and SPEEDS of motion, chronically over and extended period of time (i.e. days / weeks / years / careers / etc.). By their very nature, sports ARE repetitive stress. When this repetitive stress goes unchecked and unaddressed, muscular imbalances can/will occur. These muscular imbalances weaken the core, and eventually lead to faulty movement patterns. These faulty movement patterns over time can expose themselves as injury and pain.(3)
So keep this chart handy while performing your assessment, it may help you identify where to begin with your clients integrated flexibility protocol, as this should be the CORNERSTONE OF YOUR PROGRAM.
(NOTE: This diagram was referenced from, "Optimum Performance Training for the Performance Enhancement Specialist," pp. 123, by Clark and Russell, and has been slightly modified for this article.)
Your plan of attack with the STABILITY--->STRENGTH--->POWER progression sounds great, and looking at this situation with out having done an assessment, it is impossible to get specific. Yet there is another aspect of her training you will specifically want to consider – the dominant type of reflex used in skating. Research has identified "Equilibrium/Tilting Reactions" as being used primarily when the surface beneath us moves or is UNSTABLE (such as in skating). When progressing you client through her neuromuscular stability training (balance), it would make sense to train her on the most unstable surfaces she can control. A basic progression may be:
- Single Leg (SL) stance
- SL Windmill (shoes on)
- SL Windmill (shoes off)
- SL, Windmill on unstable surface (1/2 foam roll, airex pad, etc.)
For more in depth information, please refer to the list of recommended reading below.
Noah Hittner, BS, PES, RTS, CPT
REFERENCES & RECOMMENDED READING:
- Clark, M. (2001). An Integrated Approach to Human Movement Science. (NASM)
- Clark, M; Russell, A. (2001). Optimum Performance Training for the Performance Enhancement Specialist. (NASM)
- Hittner, N. (2002). Jumper's Hip. (http://www.PTontheNET.com)
- Hittner, N. (2003). Water Skiing - Strength and Balance. (http://www.PTontheNET.com)
- Chek, P. (2002). Scientific Balance Training Series (Parts 1-6). (http://www.PTontheNET.com)
- Chek, P. (2000). What is Functional Exercise? (http://www.PTontheNET.com)