I've been working with my coach Denise on camel spins. I love Denise. She can explain anything ten different ways, she can demonstrate anything you need or want, and she's very good at emphasizing proper body alignment from the minute I step onto the ice. Yesterday, we went over camel spins, which has been the bane of my skating existence for a while.
I've always warmed up for the camel spin by doing several forward spirals down the ice. Off the ice, I like to practice the camel and spiral positions as well (see above right). Whether on or off the ice, when I hit the position, I'm putting a lot of pressure towards the middle-to-back of my skate/foot. I'm usually thinking, "Press on the heel, arch and chin up!" Denise agreed that doing forward spirals was a good warmup to stretch out the back and the arms in preparation for the camel spin, but also made me aware that a forward spiral does not put the proper emphasis on the part of the blade that I'll be spinning on once I'm in the camel position.
Instead, practice the camel position from a back spiral on a shallow back inside edge. She explained that that is the part of the blade that I will ultimately be spinning on, so why not get used to the feel early on. I tried a few during our lesson and it was a completely different feeling -- for one thing, I was pressing on the ball of my foot and not the heel. I'll continue to practice the camel position both ways -- forward spirals and back spirals (on a shallow back inside edge) now that I'm more aware of all the elements that go into it. For those of you attempting this, please please make sure to try this at an empty session. It's hard to keep looking back!