Warm Up and Stretch Before You Skate

Warm Up and Stretch Before You Skate

Cute skate outfit? Check. Skates laced? You’re almost ready. But before you hit the ice to show off your moves at the Seaport Ice Rink, there’s one more thing you need to do — stretch. Here, the experts at the NewYork-Presbyterian tell us why it’s so important, and the best way to warm up to prevent injury.

The benefits of Ice Skating

First things first: Good on you for getting out and about for physical activity even though it’s cold. In NewYork-Presbyterian’s Health Matters story about the unexpected benefits of winter workouts, Dr. Morgan Busko, attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester, says that getting outside for a fun winter activity like ice skating is good for your body and mood. “Studies show that exercising in nature actually increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and natural endorphins that are released through the body,” says Dr. Busko. “If you do the same exact workout outdoors versus indoors, you’re getting a bigger dose of these neuromuscular transmitters that promote a happy mood.”

After dressing warmly and applying sunscreen, Dr. Busko recommends “a five-to-10-minute dynamic warmup indoors just to get the muscles and the cardiovascular system warmed up before hitting those cold temperatures.” If you’ve stretched and worked up a bit of a sweat that means that the body has warmed up and is ready for the outdoors.

Prep the Kids for the Ice

The Ice Rink is an awesome activity for the whole family, as long as everyone stays safe and warm. According to Dr. Alexandra M. Dow, internal medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Westchester, it’s important that children’s outermost layers are waterproof because wet clothing can make them more susceptible to the cold. In NewYork-Presbyterian’s Health Matters story about how to enjoy the outdoors safely in winter, she explains that wet clothing can increase the risk of getting frostbite. “Keep an eye out for ruddy complexions as a sign it’s time to warm up,” she advises.

Stretch Before & After

Because muscles can tighten up in the cold, it’s important to stretch right before you put on your ice skates—and after your time on the ice, to loosen up. “Staying warm, staying loose, staying conditioned, and knowing your limits are all great ways to reduce the risk of injury while enjoying winter sports,” says Dr. Elan Goldwaser, a pediatric and adult sports medicine physician with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Touching your toes, leaning side to side, all of these simple stretches can help loosen up your muscles and help you avoid sprains and strains.”

Stay Strong

The conditioning part of Dr. Goldwaser’s advice is just as important as stretching.

“With a strong core and good hip strength, you’re at a lower risk of falling,” he says. He recommends doing exercises to strengthen your core and glute muscles, such as hamstring stretches and variations of planking. Check out this story for more of his advice on how to increase your ankle and foot strength—and don’t forget those thick socks when you’re headed to the rink.

Warmed up and ready? Come on down to the Seaport Ice Rink, open daily through the holidays. Skating is free with your own skates, and skate rentals are also available. 

For more healthy living tips and insight from the team at NewYork-Presbyterian, bookmark healthmatters.nyp.org