Some Basic Rollerblading Tips
If you’ve never really given rollerblading (aka inline skating) a try, you’ll be pleased to know that it has very positive health benefits and is on par with bicycling and running as a great way to exercise.
While the idea of putting wheels on your feet may be a bit intimidating, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. In fact a little practice in how to ride, stop, start and even fall and get up, can help you perfect your skating skills.
History of the Inline Skate
Known for his eccentric inventions such as self-operating machines (known as automata), John-Joseph Merlin invented the earliest form of what could be considered rollerblades, in 1760. These were basically boots, fastened with small metal wheels that he wore while demonstrating his numerous scientific inventions. While Merlin’s design wasn’t patented, other inventors would toy with the concept over the years until Louis Legrange created a type of inline skates in 1849 for an opera in which the characters were to appear skating on ice inside of a theatre. By all accounts the opera was a disaster, as the actors didn’t know how to stop or turn.
While other variations would follow over the decades, it wasn’t until 1953 when Ernest Kahlert patented an early inline skate that resembles today’s model. It wouldn’t be until the late 1980s that these skates were marketed as ‘Rollerblades’ and became incredibly popular. Rollerblades look a bit like ski boots with four polyurethane wheels mounted onto a frame in a single line (or inline). Rollerblades feature a hard rubber brake, usually on the heel of the boot, which allows skaters to stop or help negotiate turns.
Rollerblading and Health Benefits
Rollerblading is great for your heart as a cardio exercise. For example, if you were to skate for just 15 minutes you can burn close to 200 calories, whereas within an hour you can burn off up to 650.
Despite what you may think, inline skating is a low impact exercise that, according to some doctors, is more beneficial than bicycling and running. As you’re constantly moving your legs and arms, skating also helps to improve your hip, thigh, arm and back muscles.
If you tend to be on the klutzy side, rollerblading can help you get a hold of your overall coordination. Balance is the key (the same as riding a bicycle, ice skating, skateboarding, etc.), and it may a little time to get used to, but skating will generally improve your flexibility as well as your coordination. Once you manage your balance you’ll be able to blade with a seamless flow.
Different Types of Rollerblades
There are many types of inline skates, with varying wheel sizes that are available for different applications, such as roller hockey, aggressive skating, freestyle slalom and speed skating among others. As the wheels come in different sizes, it should be noted that the smaller the wheel, the greater the acceleration and ability to maneuver, while larger wheels gradually take more energy to get going.
Whatever type of skate you choose, be sure that they’re comfortable and fit properly; any extra space on the sides and in the toes and heels, where your feet might have a tendency to slip, can cause problems. At first, gaining some sort of balance may be problematic, but that’s part of the challenge, especially learning how to move your feet and legs. If you’ve done a fair amount of ice-skating, then this should come as second nature.
If you’ve managed to master the basic movements to get you going, then you should move on to the next phase: Falling down and getting up.
First things first: get kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet, because falling is part of the game. You’re better off falling forwards than backwards, because the pads can help with any potential shocks; falling backwards will cause problems for your back. If you feel that you’re going to fall backwards, try to grab onto your knees, which will help you lean forward. You may want to practice this a few times on a carpeted surface, to have an idea of what you’re doing when you actually take it on the road.
Practicing how to brake will also help if you find yourself in a tricky spot. The best way to brake is to move one of your feet forward (it doesn’t matter which one) and slightly bend your knee so that you apply pressure on the heel of your skate until you make a full stop.
In addition to these basic tips, you should start out slowly, probably in your driveway, if you have one. Having a proper understanding of how to balance, move and stop will eventually help you have a fun skating experience.