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Tips & Safety

The following information is provided in order that you enjoy a fun, safe skating experience.  Areas of interest include the physical benefits of rollerblading, information for beginners, a sample learning/training regimen, and equipment and information necessary to skate safely and without injury.

FITNESS RESEARCH
Between 1993 and 1996, the University of Massachusetts Exercise Science Department conducted four separate in-line skating research studies.  A summary of their studies included the following:

     1. In-line skating produces less than half the impact shock to joints that running does.

     2. In-line skating targets the hips, thighs and buttocks.  It offers a comparable muscular workout to running and cycling because the muscles work for a longer period of time during in-line skating stride than on a running stride or a cycling crank cycle.

     3. In-line skating produces more aerobic benefits than stair stepping and nearly as much as running.

     4. An in-line skating workout will burn nearly as many calories as asimilar running workout.  A person weighing 150 pounds can burn nearly 360 calories in a 30-minute in-line skating workout.  Also, skaters tend to work out for longer periods of time because it is more fun.

BEGINNER TIPS
For those with little or no experience skating, it is best to walk and or simulate the gliding stride on carpet or grass to get the feel of the boot and get an idea of the balance that is required to remain upright.  Because the width of the wheels are somewhat wider than the blade of an ice skate, balance is easier and less ankle strength is required of beginners.

The first time you skate, try to find an area that you would consider to be a controlled environment.  It should be controlled from the standpoint that there is no traffic, a smooth surface, and little or no interference from onlookers.  Since many people are very concerned about falling and "looking silly" the first times that they venture out in their skates (we all have been there and had our moments), it's usually a good idea to build one's confidence by skating in areas where there will be few onlookers and detractors.

In those first skating experiences, familiarize yourself with the skates and get used to thinking of this as ice skating rather than roller skating.  The wheel frame should be at a slight angle (inside-out) in order to push off into each stride, not a straight forward-stride motion as done with rollerskates.  A slight bend at the ankles, knees, and waist, with the torso low and slightly forward with chest over the knees will ensure good skating posture.  It may take several skating experiences before you become comfortable in the this forward-leaning posture.

The key to maintaining balance and avoiding road hazards is to skate within your ability and always under control.  You will find as you get better and faster that it is more difficult to stop and avoid hazards than it is to actually skate!!  Most falls occur as a result of out-of-control skating.  Therefore, it is necessary to spend a proportional amount of time learning how to stop and being able to do so in an under-control manner.

If your skates have a standard heel brake, the skater should discontinue strides and bend even more deeply in the needs with arms and hands extended slightly out in front.  At the same time, the heel of the braking skate should be placed in front of the skater, and pressure should be applied slowly and firmly until stopped.  Stopping under control is just as important as skating under control.

To avoid most sudden and emergency stopping, the skater should anticipate possible hazards and reasons to stop by looking ahead on the skating path.  As the skater learns the approximate amount of time needed to stop, they will discontinue their strides in enough time to be able to stop safely.  New skaters will be surprised at the amount of time necessary to stop safely.

SAFETY
Protective equipment is recommended even for the most experienced skaters.  Helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads should be worn when skating.  The slightest fall in an unusual manner can cause serious injury to bones, ligaments, and cartilage -- not to mention lacerations and scrapes on hard, rough surfaces.  Most protective equipment can be purchased inexpensively at large retail stores that handle sports and recreational equipment.  As previously stated, most falls can be avoided by maintaining a low stance and under-control stride along with paying attention to the skating surface immediately ahead.

The more erect that the skater tries to remain, the more opportunities there will be to fall as a result of imbalance.  In these falls, the skater most often falls on their buttocks and elbows with their skates out from under and in front of them.  Road hazards usually cause the skater to fall forward on hands and knees.



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