NEW YORK (AP) – Before hitting the ice, it’s important to warm up. That’s the advice from skating instructor Rikki Samuels, author of “Kids’ Book of Figure Skating: Skills, Strategies and Techniques” (Citadel/Kensington).

The first steps toward making your body do all the complicated things it needs to when skating are off-ice exercises that loosen up your legs, back and sides, Samuels writes. Warm-ups are even more important to skaters than most other athletes because the environment is cold, which can cause muscles to tighten up.

Here’s part of Samuels’ rinkside mini warm-up:

Start with walking. If you come to the rink by car, get out at the far end of the parking lot and walk briskly to the entrance.

Before you lace up your skates, warm up your ankles by sitting on a bench or chair with one leg stretched out so it is parallel to the floor. Rotate your ankle in circles, both direction. Do the same on the other side.

After lacing your skates, walk around with your ankles and knees deeply bent. This looks funny, and it feels funny, too, but you’ll feel the benefits.

To warm up the bending and inner muscles, stand on the rubber mat with your feet about 2 feet apart. Bend deeply on one side, so that your bent knee is over your toe, and the other leg is stretched out. Feel the inner muscles of the free leg pulling slightly. If you can’t feel a slight pull, bend more or separate the feet more. Do on the other side, and then repeat three to 12 times on each side.

For your upper body and back, reach up and lift your torso away from your hips. Lower your arms until the fingertips are at hip level. With your legs stationary, twist your upper body (from the middle of the hips upward), pulling against your lower body (from the middle of the hips downward).

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