One thing I love about Edge and Figure work is that it throws all of your skating problems into stark relief. You don’t have to guess why the circle on your right side is smaller than the left, you know. Because you can feel your right leg caving in, making it small. So, the remedy becomes obvious: Strengthen the right leg. (I’m working on it. Simply skating on it is making it strong.)
Personally, Figures and Patch has brought my Shoulder issues to the front burner. My left hip might have had problems, but my Right Shoulder is now having issues. I’m imagining myself as backed up against a large pillar while doing a BO8 or BI8, but my right shoulder is refusing to cooperate. It’s refused to cooperate on Back inside edges on my Right side. It simply does not want to go backwards and open up.
I have been forcing it, and in doing so, it became very sore. Bad to where I could not lift things with it. I called my Chiro/Sports med guy, and he had me come in. I explained the problem as best I could, and, standing on the ground, turned my shoulders and head to my right perfectly. “But I can’t do it on the ice.”
He looked me over, moved my shoulder around and determined that, while sore, my shoulder was not the problem simply because I was doing it right there. “It’s gotta be a balance thing,” he got his determined look when presented with a physical mystery. (This guy is like House, seriously.)
So he had me stand on a foam thing. Eyes open, eyes closed, feet together, left foot, right foot, arms out, arms forward, and I was still balancing just fine. He then proceeded to try to unbalance me, shifting my head all directions, eyes closed. Still standing. “Like a rock…” he starts frowning. “Okay, track my finger,” he moved his hands in front of me, and I tracked. “Okay,” he gets his iPad and has it show me a red and white block pattern moving right to left in front of me. “Stand on your right leg, and track my finger,” he moves it to the right in front of the moving pattern going left.
I finally fall over.
We had a clue.
More vision tracking tests, and he sees that my left eye is slower than my right. His working theory is that my vision is a tad screwy moving from right to left, and there’s something going on with my left inner ear. This would explain not only my shoulder/opening up issues, but also my ongoing spin problems. He asks me if I spot during spins. No, I don’t focus on anything while spinning. He thinks about this.
“Your body doesn’t want to move that way simply because your right eye is taking in too much stimulation as it moves,” he theorizes. “So it’s trying to shut you down, but you’re forcing it to do what it doesn’t want to. Which is why you’re sore. So, let’s try and retrain your vision and see what that does.”
Well, most of my skating involves coercing my body to do things it does not want to do, but okay. Armed with a set of things to do throughout the day to try and retrain my vision and balance, I set forth.
Now, honestly, I had my doubts. I still do. But lo and behold, the BO and BI8 seemed easier today. My circles were much more even this morning than they were Tuesday, and the RBI edge felt more like I was actually controlling the blade rather than hoping for the best. Those super tight Patch-Style Waltz 8’s (as opposed to my super huge lazy FS Waltz-8’s) felt more under control as well. Yes, we can ascribe this to just sheer practice, and my shoulder did get tired and sore towards the end of the hour, and perhaps all this “vision/balance” thing and talk about my inner ear may just be a magic feather…. but it worked. And as any performer will attest, if it works, DO NOT MESS WITH IT. I will take whatever Magic Feathers are offered me with relish!