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Your Skateboard Superpower: The Proprioception Advantage

Updated: 4 days ago

Having 90-degreed my ankle myself more times than I care to count, this blog post is almost a *note to self at this point. And, bearing in mind I won’t stop skating until I’m hopefully in my 80s, I would like to think that being a yoga teacher, I will take my own advice and maintain mobility for years to come. 


Swollen ankle
My personal ankle golf ball!

From a Yoga perspective, your feet are the foundation of the temple of the body and as we know, if the base is uneven then the structure above is unsteady.

Ida Rolf, the renowned bodyworker, stated “A man’s tracks tell quite a true story. They inform quietly about ankles and knees, but they shout the news about hips and pelvis. If one foot is consistently everted [tilted onto its inner edge], the ankle, the knee, or, perhaps more likely, the entire pelvic basin is rotated”.


So how does this impact your skating? 


It’s not just your setup, deck shape, or trucks and bushings that determine how much stability you have; your foot placement, alignment, leg strength, and hip mobility all contribute as well (among other factors!). 


How stability through your feet works: proprioception in action


Picture this: you drop into a bowl, smoothly execute a Coleman slide while bombing down a hill, or gracefully foot-brake while cruising. These manoeuvres aren't just about skill; they're about proprioception – your skateboard superpower.


Feet on a longboard skateboard doing a manual
Danielle's excellent ankles manual-ing before they learnt what proprioception is 😂

Proprioception relies on sensory receptors, or "proprioceptors," residing in joint capsules, muscles, tendons, and fascia. These are your body's ball bearings, constantly exchanging signals with your brain. They're the silent choreographers behind your ability to respond to unexpected changes. A simple example like walking down the stairs where your body naturally adjusts your foot, ankle, knee, and hip to continue your steps is a proprioception win. When we’re skating, you want your body to be able to make split-second adjustments so mastering proprioception is your secret weapon. 


 

Tips for improving YOUR skating proprioception:


Woman at the physio
Danielle working on ankle mobility

I’m on my mobility journey and have found myself having to tend to my left ankle with daily exercises. It's really hard when your body isn't as capable as before, but what I have found harder is the mind game and the trauma held within the body. I highly recommend reading The Body Keeps The Score. I have to give myself a little reminder that “true power is living the realization you are your own healer, hero and leader” (Yung Pueblo).


Here are my other tips to build a solid foundation for your skateboarding:


Foot and ankle strengthening exercises:

Incorporate simple at-home exercises to strengthen the muscles in your feet, enhancing their responsiveness on the board. Boost your ankle mobility with targeted drills such as ankle circles, dorsiflexion stretches, and calf raises. Flexible ankles are key to fluid skateboarding movements. My physio Sally Trussler has some brilliant videos to help you with this. 


If you would like to incorporate these learnings into your yoga practice, you can progress through my online "Foundations and Mindful Movement" course. I walk you through how we can bring awareness to each part of the foot, then our weight and then initialise movement, helping you activate YOUR proprioceptors and all parts of your foot throughout your yoga practice. 


Other tips


Balance board training

Integrate balance board exercises into your routine to simulate the instability experienced while skateboarding. Start with basic balancing drills to gradually advance your skills.



Walk barefoot

Warm up and cool down in a fun way when skating

Hydration station!

Best muscle products I've tried and tested



Alternatively, you can take on my 8-week recorded online yoga for skaters course or practice LIVE weekly online or in-person (in Bristol).





Other helpful resources


  • My friend Annika hosts Skate of Mind, a place for you to relate to others using skating for mental wellbeing and resilience which is particularly important when injuries happen.

  • I have been enjoying following @Skateboardstrength for more mobility tips



Hopefully, this has helped you get started, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


Happy skating, 

Danielle


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