One of my fondest memories of growing up in Canada is ice-skating with my dad. Every Wednesday night, we would attend family skate hour. My dad would just skate the perimeter while I tried to emulate my favorite skating idols. Back crosscuts are a speed gathering transition that all skaters use and when I finally figured out the trick to these smooth glides, I was joyous. As the skater is speeding up, back crosscuts look, from the outside, like the skater is using the front foot and stepping over the back foot, but rather it’s the back foot adducting (moving towards the midline and beyond) that is propelling the action – and then the front foot seamlessly glides across.
The group of muscles that are the agonists, or action muscles, in back cross-cuts are known as the hip adductors. One of the hip adductor muscles is the Adductor Magnus, and is known as the “floor of the adductors” and lies anteriorly to the hamstrings. Its actions are to first, adduct (or pull together) the hips. While on the ice, this is the action in the body that draws the back leg towards and across the midline. Secondly, the posterior fibers also join in in the extension of the hip (they draw the leg behind the body). At the end of the adducting movement, the back leg is in extension, so that the front foot has clearance to float across. During this fancy skating move the back leg is also slightly turned outward, so that the blade of the skate can catch on the ice’s surface. This is accomplished by the portion of the Adductor Magnus that is attached to the shaft of the femur, posteriorly, acting as a lateral rotator.
An adductor strain is a common injury in ice skating. In Yoga Tune Up®, Adductor Slides #2 is a great adductor exercise that offers Adductor Magnus muscle strengthening to prep you for skating season, so you too can trick out your back cross-cuts!