Off-Skates Training: Feel the Burn

How many of us have been at practice and about 20 minutes in you feel like your lower back is killing you? You try to stretch it out between drills but inevitably you’re going to have to get back to skating low and controlled in the same direction and the pain will return. It seems that others are complaining of the same pain so you shrug it off as a side effect of skating. Well there’s something you can do to ward off this pain – strengthen your core.

Photo by Jim Bush

No I am not talking about trying to get a six-pack because for the majority of us that will never happen. The core is made up of many different muscle types (only 1 of which makes up the six pack muscles) and in anatomy the core refers to your upper and lower torso – so basically the “center” of your body (where the legs and arms attach). Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen. For a roller derby skater core strength aids in your balance, recoveries, and unleashing of powerful precision hits. Core muscle strength equals power.

Ivana Lei-Her-Out (NCKO blocker and assistant captain of the Furies) works core strengthening into her weekly weight training routine. Using a barbell with weights on the ground, she performs an exercise known as the rollout. Kneeling, she grasps the center of the barbell and rolls her upper body as far away as she comfortably can and then uses her core muscles to pull her body back up to the start position. She also does this rollout exercise with an ab wheel – which allows her to perform the rollout to the center as well as to the left and right in order to work the muscles in her sides. The rollout can also be done with other forms of equipment like stability balls.

Photo by Jim Bush

You don’t have to belong to a gym or buy any extra equipment to work on strengthening your core. We all have done a plank at this point in our lives; it’s time to start perfecting them. Lie flat on your stomach and lift your entire body up by raising on your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat and tilt your pelvis while tightening the abs to give your butt straight in line with your body (not sticking up or sagging down). See how long you can hold it staying in good form. Then later try it again. Keep pushing yourself to hold it longer than the previous time. You can do this during the commercials a few times while watching TV.

Many yoga poses that strengthen your core can be practiced individually while you’re at home. Examples include boat (balancing on the bottom of your pelvis keep your back straight while raising your legs up), Warrior 3 (stand on one leg with the rest of your body in a straight horizontal line), and modified headstands. If you enjoy the practice you can go to a class at a local yoga or pilates studio – there are many out there and often they’ll let you try one for free. Many times you don’t have to pay monthly dues but can pay by the class so pop in whenever it works for your schedule.

Core = power. You = powerful. Get to work.