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Author Topic: How do you balance on one leg?  (Read 2352 times)

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Offline Query

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How do you balance on one leg?
« on: March 08, 2012, 07:40:26 PM »
This is sort of like a poll. I want to see how people typically maintain balance.

When you balance on one leg (off ice), what motions of your body do you use to correct for small short term imbalances?

(Obviously, we correct long term imbalances by changing weight distribution, moving weight opposite the direction we start to fall. But of course that would have the opposite effect if motions faster than the rate of free fall, so we must do something else to keep balance in the short term.)

Ankle motions, pushed quickly in the direction you start to fall? Sideways knee motions, same thing? Or do you rotate at the ankle, and rotate your knee at the same time? Arm, Shoulder displacements or rotations? Does the knee move at all?

Answer with straight and with bent knees, if it is different.

It seems I bend the knee and rotate at the ankle, knee and hip, in such a way that the knee comes out of line with the head, hip and toes. Perhaps that's bad, from a health perspective, though the displacements are small.

Offline jjane45

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 08:02:25 PM »
I usually feel windmill arms, everything else goes on unnoticed.

Offline irenar5

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 10:50:07 PM »
When I balance on one leg, I really feel the ankle doing most of the work.  This ankle motion becomes very apparent when I balance with my eyes closed.

Offline Query

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 09:27:13 PM »
JJane, I just tried it eyes closed. OMG, it's so hard. I rely on my eyes so much!

Should be fun to try it eyes closed while gliding on the ice. Have to wait until the next time I find an essentially empty ice sheet.

This test started because my coach says I sometimes don't maintain the head/hip/knee/toe line, or proper forward back balance, or proper arm/shoulder alignment, even on straight strokes, let alone cross-rolls and jumps. I literally can't feel my precise body alignment. She is trying to make me able to feel such things, through practice.

It is so frustrating that she can see things in my body position and alignment that I can't feel or tell are there.

Offline taichiskater

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 11:50:34 PM »
I practice Tai Chi diligently. One day I went back onto the ice after not skating for about 15 years. I found that I could glide on one foot for a very long time. I attritbute it to the good balance that I've learned through Tai Chi. The keys to balance in Tai Chi include the following:

Pushing your head upward, imagining that it is suspended on a string, like a puppet, and "sinking" your pelvis. The combined effect straightens up the spine so it doesn't flop around.

Developing a sense of balance by noticing the pressure distribution on your feet. Balance is not just about how you control it, but also about how you sense it.


Offline Skittl1321

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 09:54:42 AM »
I know you are an analytical person Query, but I think you are over thinking this.  You need to let your body do the work and not let your your brain get in the way.


However, to answer your question I just tried it.  I crossed my arms over my chest, so they couldn't help me, just my leg (and closed my eyes to make it more difficult).  The majority of the correction was done by my ankle.  If your torso is way off, you might need to correct in the hips to distribute the weight correctly, but once it is there, I think it is up to the ankle.

Offline supra

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 09:23:19 AM »
I don't know if I quite understand the question, but I'll try to give my input. My "coach" when I first started skating kept telling me "It's up and down, it's all up and down." He said I basically needed to "pump" more with my leg that I'm skating on. He also told me my biggest problem with 3 turns is I basically "kung fu" them, and try just jamming my whole body through the turn instead of going up and down in the "pumping" motion with my leg to get through the turn gracefully.

What struck me about the up and down was, there was this Asian skater, who was faster than me on one leg than I was on two, just doing 3 turns or power pulls, because what she'd do is, she'd be able to drop down to almost 90 degrees and go back up with power coming out of the squat. It was pretty amazing to see, she was a pretty high level skater, but yeah.

So as far as your original question, I use the ankle, and not just the ankle, but the foot muscles, to keep balance on one leg. Then the balance "chain" goes up from ankles to your core and to a point your arms and shoulders. My biggest balance issue, though, is I have my weight too far forward, and balance off the balls of my feet, and this hurts me skating as I can't get as deep as I want for pistol squats. So I have to learn to be able to balance back off my heels more, and less off the balls of my feet. One way I've learned to sorta solve it is looking up, but it's gonna take a lot of time to solve this balance issue.

I am pretty OK at one foot glides, I managed to do some 2/3 of the length of the rink before losing momentum. Olympic sized rink, too.

Offline CrossStroke

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2012, 10:16:26 AM »
My biggest balance issue, though, is I have my weight too far forward, and balance off the balls of my feet, and this hurts me skating as I can't get as deep as I want for pistol squats. So I have to learn to be able to balance back off my heels more, and less off the balls of my feet. One way I've learned to sorta solve it is looking up, but it's gonna take a lot of time to solve this balance issue.

Here's an exercise one of my coaches had me do to learn to balance further back on the blade when skating forward: from good speed, push off onto one foot, with the free leg extended behind you (like in stroking, for example), with good posture, on a bent knee.  Glide.  Rise up in the skating knee, hold for a bit, then rebend again - don't change *anything* in your posture!  You should feel your balance point shift a little further back.

Offline supra

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2012, 01:55:29 PM »
I try to do something like that when I skate. I can usually get down to about 90 degrees knee bend when I try to shoot the duck, but past that I flop. But I'll try to remember consciously to not change my posture. I think it's something just in the way I walk, too. That and I have the same problem with barbell squats, though barbell squats I've learned to drive off my heels more, but initially I'd drive off my toes, because people said I'd injure my knees by driving off the toes. Oddly enough my knees click now that I'm doing it the "right" way and driving off the heels. Heh. Who knows.


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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2012, 04:25:43 PM »
I practice Tai Chi diligently. One day I went back onto the ice after not skating for about 15 years. I found that I could glide on one foot for a very long time. I attritbute it to the good balance that I've learned through Tai Chi. The keys to balance in Tai Chi include the following:


I have to say I have the opposite "problem" in that for the life of me I cannot do the balance poses in yoga very well.  I always say that I have absolutely no problem staying on one foot if I am standing on a 4mm blade and gliding on the ice but staying on one foot in a stationary position is really hard for me.

Obviously I have skated a LOT longer than I have been doing standing balance poses in yoga (but actually have been doing yoga for about as many years as I have been skating... hmmm....
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Offline VAsk8r

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2012, 05:36:03 PM »
I definitely use my ankle. If I begin losing balance, the ankle goes out or in, and then it corrects itself.

I tried crossing my arms and it didn't make much difference. But then I closed my eyes, and wow, it was hard from the get-go to maintain balance.

Offline hopskipjump

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2012, 10:53:51 AM »
Since dd has to relearn it in therapy, she is supposed to pull up with her core and bum.  It doesn't come from the ankle.  If the core is tight, the balance happens.

Offline nataxa

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2012, 09:44:25 AM »
I think it's my knee who helps me to balance on one leg. I need to straighten it out as more as possible and then I feel confident.

Offline Skate@Delaware

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2012, 07:50:56 PM »
JJane, I just tried it eyes closed. OMG, it's so hard. I rely on my eyes so much!

Should be fun to try it eyes closed while gliding on the ice. Have to wait until the next time I find an essentially empty ice sheet.

This test started because my coach says I sometimes don't maintain the head/hip/knee/toe line, or proper forward back balance, or proper arm/shoulder alignment, even on straight strokes, let alone cross-rolls and jumps. I literally can't feel my precise body alignment. She is trying to make me able to feel such things, through practice.

It is so frustrating that she can see things in my body position and alignment that I can't feel or tell are there.
If you need more "feedback" from your body, try using Champion Cords. They provide enough tension so you feel where your body parts are in relation to each other.  They helped me retrain my body after nerve damage caused numbness on one leg.
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Offline Query

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 10:20:01 AM »
If you need more "feedback" from your body, try using Champion Cords. They provide enough tension so you feel where your body parts are in relation to each other.  They helped me retrain my body after nerve damage caused numbness on one leg.

Great idea!

I bet one could make do with the cheaper bungee cords from camping, hardware or marine stores.

Offline Skate@Delaware

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2012, 10:55:53 AM »
Great idea!

I bet one could make do with the cheaper bungee cords from camping, hardware or marine stores.
I'm sure one could-I saw clips (for hooking to skates) there as well. An other option would be to carry small hand weights, but that only helps for your arms (good for young ones with wiggly arms though).
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Offline Skittl1321

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2012, 11:27:29 AM »
Since dd has to relearn it in therapy, she is supposed to pull up with her core and bum.  It doesn't come from the ankle.  If the core is tight, the balance happens.

I agree with you that balance happens from the core- but I don't think you can make minor corrections with a major muscle group.  So I'm sticking with corrections coming mostly from the ankle.  The ankle doesn't control the overall balance though.

Offline iomoon

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Re: How do you balance on one leg?
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2012, 08:50:45 PM »
I straighten my spine into the correct posture, but in a relaxed manner. Then my ankle takes over. I don't lock my knees, either. I also practice in front of the mirror.  :)

This will be easier over time since your core will be stronger.