Pushing off one foot then the other while skating requires you to use your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves every time you lift one foot to move. Alternatively, when you slide with both feet on the ground, your lower body is still working, but it stabilizes you rather than pushing you forward. This type of movement is similar to using an elliptical trainer or other cardio machine at the gym, but it’s even better because your body is working with both feet stationary and both feet moving. Additionally, the stability required in the ankle, calf, and foot to balance on an elevated skate each time you stride is more intense than having your foot flat on the ground while running or on a cardio machine.
Before heading outside with your skates, there are a few things to consider besides the benefits of skating. Read on for tips on getting started safely.
Roller skating and inline skating build core strength and improve lower body stability. Skating also improves upper body strength and mobility due to the pumping and swinging motion of the arms. When you rotate your torso using your abdominal muscles, you are using your shoulders and arms to propel yourself forward. The legs and glutes also push you forward. Not only do you move forward, but you also move side to side, which improves mobility and hip strength. Your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes and hips work in unison to start skating, stop skating, speed up and slow down.
As a fitness trainer, I always recommend having the right equipment before starting a new workout activity. Whether you rent skates or buy them, test roller skates and inline skates to see which ones you feel most comfortable with.
Roller skates have four wheels aligned like car wheels: two in the front and two in the back. The wider base makes these skates a bit easier for beginners. When you are stationary, you will feel more stable thanks to the base of the skate. However, it is more difficult to accelerate with roller skates than with inline skates.
Most inline skates usually feature four wheels inline fore and aft and a break behind the rear wheel, and the top boot of the skate fits snugly. The wheels allow you to have a smoother ride and skate faster.
As a child, I learned to skate with roller skates. I twisted and turned around the indoor rink and practiced skating in my driveway. As an adult, I switched to inline skates because I could skate to my friend’s house a mile away and show off my speed in the indoor rink.
I recommend these steps for adults as well – a testament to the design, structure and stability of the different types of skates. Start out on roller skates for fun, then switch to inline skates once you feel comfortable on the wheels.
Helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads – they are all necessary for skating. Falling and scratching your knee is one thing, but falling sideways onto your wrist or landing on your head can be a traumatic injury. The most common reasons for falling are loss of balance or trying to swerve to avoid a collision or an object in your path.
As a kid, I was always embarrassed to wear so much gear. But as I got older, I realized I looked more serious with my gear. Also, I felt more confident going fast, knowing that I had taken protective measures to stay safe.
For beginners, find a safe place to skate. Start on a smooth, level surface, like an empty parking lot or even a tennis court. Be sure to choose a well-lit area with no traffic or obstacles in your way. Avoid skating in the rain as the slippery surface can cause you to fall more easily.
Skate forward and aim for stability, not speed. Get used to starting and stopping. Next, start skating to the right for a few meters, then change direction to the left. Continue this deviation pattern as a practice.
Ultimately, listen to your body and do what’s best for you for your current fitness level.