Summer Skate Fun: Rollerblading Inline Wheels

Thinking about summer skate fun? Rollerblading (or inline skating) on inline wheels is a fast, exciting way to play in the sunshine or at an indoor rink. To help get you started, here is what you need to know about equipment, techniques and ways to stay safe on inline wheels.

Equipment

As a beginner, don't start with the fastest skates. Get wheels of 72 mm diameter or less; on larger wheels, you may skate too fast without realizing it. The skate itself should support your ankles so they do not flex easily. Your feet should be comfortable, and your heels and toes should not slip when you move sideways. Get professionally fitted skates if you can.

Quality, used skates are fine for beginners, though. They probably won't go as fast as new ones, which is good when you are getting to know the sport. Buy used inline skates from a knowledgeable dealer, or take a friend with you who already skates. Another option is renting, which helps you be sure you enjoy the sport before you buy equipment.

A helmet is actually more important than the skates, because it helps protect your brain. A safety-certified bike helmet works well for blading. It may save you in a fall.

Wrist guards are designed to protect skaters from a broken wrist, a common injury among those who don't wear them. Be sure to wear your wrist protection correctly for it to be effective.

Knee pads and elbow pads specifically made for blading glide with you, rather than coming off with impact. They may also save you from broken bones, as well as from road rash, which describes painful abrasions that take a long time to heal.

Learning to inline skate

You may not need professional lessons if you know someone who can take you through the basics. Ask him to watch you skate and make suggestions, and don't rush yourself. You can also find many instructional videos on YouTube.

One way to begin is on carpet or grass, with a chair or fence to grab if you need it. Start out by walking in your skates, and then gradually turn each step into a glide. Don't worry if you fall at first; everyone does. Try to fall forward, and try to make a glancing impact, so that you slide rather than coming to an abrupt halt.

Also on carpet or grass, practice stopping, at first by turning up your toes so the pad on the heel end of the skate end gradually stops you. Just as in snow skiing, there is more than one way to stop, and you will learn other stops as you progress.

When you feel you are ready, move to a flat, uncrowded strip of concrete, preferably with a sturdy fence or railing beside it in case you need a handhold. Don't make your first smooth surface asphalt, because you'll go much faster than you would on concrete. Avoid hills, too, until you have more experience.

Start out slowly, and enjoy the scenery. You will pick up the pace with practice. Speed is exhilarating, but stay in control.

Safety

Check your equipment each time you skate. Always wear all of your pads, because the one time you don't is often the time you fall. Make sure your helmet is properly fastened.

Choose safe locations. You want smooth concrete with few cracks and no rocks or glass. Avoid asphalt, and avoid automobile traffic.

Most paved bicycle paths are open to inline skaters, too. On a path, skate on the right, and pass on the left. Always announce that you are about to pass, and leave plenty of room, just as you would when you're driving.

Keep looking ahead as you skate, and be prepared to stop. Always give pedestrians the right of way. After all, strollers are slow and poky creatures ,while you are flying along.

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