Are you also one of those people standing on the sides and watching with envy as people wiz past you on skates?
You’re reluctant to get on skates yourself because it seems incredibly difficult. But is rollerblading hard to learn?
Before we answer the question, let’s distinguish rollerblading from roller skating because they are not the same.
Rollerblading is done wearing roller skates with wheels that are in a line. Roller skating is done wearing roller skates that have two wheels side-by-side.
This article is about rollerblading, also called inline skating. Both rollerblading and roller skating saw a revival during the pandemic because it was a way to spend time with others while keeping a social distance.
Which Is Harder, Rollerblading Or Roller Skating?
To answer this question, we must look into the particularities of the respective blades.
Both activities involve moving forward on skates, but the skates are not the same, so managing movement while wearing them also differs.
Roller skates are basically shoes with two rows of four wheels, making them relatively easy to balance on.
Rollerblades have inline wheels, that is, wheels arranged in a single line. This design makes them harder to stand in, so your need more balance and coordination for rollerblading.
In addition, the center of gravity of roller skates is higher, so beginners find them more stable to balance on. The stability of roller skates means one is less likely to fall.
So, on the whole, roller skating is probably easier for most people.
Learning To Rollerblade
1. Choose the Right Place to Practice
Choose a surface that is smooth and flat. You don’t want bumps, a rough surface, or many people walking about when you first try your rollerblades out.
A skate park, long driveway, roller rink, or indoor parking area are good places to start.
2. Get the Right Gear
Many people who never learn to rollerblade, do so because they are afraid of falling and hurting themselves.
Well, you can’t avoid falling. You will fall and you will get hurt. The best you can do is to do your best to minimize serious injury.
Fit yourself out with the following for your rollerblading adventure.
Selecting Your Roller Blades
Purchase a good pair of rollerblades that fit snugly on your feet and provide proper support for your ankles.
You can hurt yourself seriously if you skate without any protection. Make sure you get the right safety gear.
Helmet: Buy the best helmet you can afford to ensure your head is protected in case of a fall.
KneePads, Elbow Pads, Wrist Guards: Buy pads made from thick material specially created to protect elbows, knees, and wrists. Don’t skimp on price.
Padded Shorts: You will save yourself a whole lot of hurt with these.
Mouth guard: You may think this is overkill, but you’ll be glad you got one.
3. Practicing Your Stance
You must learn a proper stance so you can balance on your roller blades. The ideal place to learn to balance on your rollerblades is to walk with them on a patch of grass.
Not being smooth, the grass will prevent you from falling while giving you a feel for walking wearing your blades.
Next, try walking on a carpet in your house while wearing them. When you do this, try bending your knees and go as low as you can. Bend in such a way that your knees don’t go over your toes and hide them.
This is how you should skate until you balance well enough to stand up. It may take a while to feel comfortable walking on your blades. Don’t worry, take your time. Practice until it feels natural, even if it takes a few days.
4. Learn How to Fall
You will fall, so you might as well practice how to fall so you don’t hurt yourself too much.
For beginners, always wear all your safety gear and practice on flat surfaces when you are learning to fall safely.
Take A Knee
In the beginning, you will often feel that you can’t keep your balance and are going to fall.
When this happens, bend your knees and slowly drop down on one knee. This will eventually stop your movement. Do wear your knee guards for this exercise!
It is common to fall forward on your hands, knees, and elbows in the beginning. That’s okay, because you are wearing your safety guards.
You need to practice this before you go out on the road and start skating fast, so your body can learn to do it automatically.
What you want to do is to try to fall on both your knees simultaneously. Also, focus on keeping your elbows bent when you fall. This will prevent you from extending them and falling on your hands.
You want to avoid falling backward, so when you skate, keep your knees bent and move your weight slightly forward, so when you fall, you likely fall forward.
5. Falling Backward
You want to avoid falling backward as that can cause serious injuries. To avoid falling backward, remember to lean forward and bend your knees.
If you do find yourself falling backward, try to remember to turn your body slightly so you fall on a bum rather than on your back, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Consider wearing padded shorts. They can prevent serious injury and can be hidden under a roomy pair of sweatpants.
How To Stop On Rollerblades
It is just as important to learn how to stop skating as it is to learn to skate. You don’t want to be at full speed heading straight for a tree and not be able to stop.
There are many ways to stop on rollerblades.
Use The Heel Brake
You will notice a small rubber stop on one or both of your rollerblades. When you want to stop, tilt your brake foot until the brake makes contact with the ground. This action will stop the blade rolling.
Be sure to practice using the heel brake on a safe surface like indoors on a carpet, before you go outside to do some serious rollerblading.
Use Your One Knee
As mentioned earlier, you can take a knee. Simply lower your knee until it touches the ground.
As you move forward, place one blade behind the other at a 90-degree angle. Because the blade at the back is not rolling forward anymore, it will drag behind the other one, slowing it down, and eventually bring you to a stop.
Note: it is crucial to practice breaking and stopping before you begin skating. Being able to break or stop when needed can prevent serious injury.
6. Start Rollerblading!
Now you are ready to take a ride on your blades. Stand in the skating stance you have learned and move off the grass or carpet you have been practicing on.
Your first attempt should be on a smooth and level surface.
Do what you did on the carpet. Put your one foot forward and you will start rolling. Push with your other foot off to the side.
Continue doing this, taking a step and pushing with the other foot. If you manage to keep your balance, you are skating. Congratulations!
In the beginning, start slowly, bend low, using your quads to help you keep your balance. Maintain a duck-like position in the beginning to help you balance and get comfortable on your rollerblades.
In the duck position, your heels are slightly turned out and your toes are turned inwards so you don’t roll too fast and lose your balance.
You can graduate to a proper form of skating when you are comfortable.
Later, when you are able to keep your balance, you won’t skate in this position. You will stand more upright, slightly bent forward, and gently push your one foot to the side. Keep your balance and carefully push out on the other foot. Continues skating by repeating these two actions.
Take your time to become familiar with how it feels to rollerblade. Practice until it becomes natural for you to do.
Is Rollerblading Dangerous?
Rollerblading is an extreme sport. It can be very dangerous and you can get seriously hurt if you don’t take care.
According to Brainline, inline skating is responsible for
- More than 100,000 injuries each year
- 11,000 head and face injuries each year
- The likelihood of visiting the hospital is 1 in 25 every year for inline skaters
Inline Skate World reports that research in 2001 found 3.4 out of 1,000 inline skaters had severe injuries.
Most of the serious injuries were injuries to the wrists of skaters. Others suffered injuries to their lower arms and elbows.
Can Anybody Learn To Rollerblade?
Well, anybody can certainly learn to rollerblade, but it doesn’t mean that everybody will be able to rollerblade safely.
The reason is the need for body strength. Rollerblading requires muscle strength, core strength, and stamina.
Spending time riding on blades works hip and leg muscles, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
These muscles must be strong, so you can balance and change direction when needed and not fall when you have to stop.
Note: If you are serious about rollerblading, it is advisable to do additional workouts to develop your muscles and build up your stamina.
How To Stay Safe On Rollerblades
You can avoid accidents and injuries by taking the following precautions.
- Always wear proper safety gear
- Stay alert
- Be aware of children and animals
- Check your rollerblades regularly
- Skate only in safe areas
- Do not skate in the dark
- Don’t hold on to moving vehicles
- Do not use headphones while skating
Is Rollerblading Good Exercise?
Rollerblading is excellent exercise. It is a form of cardio exercise, and just like dancing or running, it raises your heart rate.
Not unlike swimming, inline skating uses a lot of muscles to keep you upright and balanced. In the process, it tones the quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thigh muscles, and abdominal muscles.
A special benefit of inline skating is the development of deep core muscles that are used to keep you upright and balanced. Strong core muscles
Strong core muscles help improve posture. These days, many people have poor posture from constantly looking at their phones and computers, which can cause neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Inline skating can correct posture over time and counteract the effects of constantly looking down.
Low Impact Exercise
Rollerblading is low impact, so it doesn’t put strain on joints. In this sense rollerblading is more beneficial than activities like running.
Rollerblading is also a great way to lose weight. The aerobic workout it provides burns many calories – between 400 and 800 calories an hour, depending on how far and fast you skate.
There is no getting away from the fact that rollerblading is an extreme sport that can lead to serious injuries.
However, if you take it slowly and follow all the safety precautions, you will have a load of fun and won’t suffer much more than a few scrapes and bruises.
Hey there, my name is Tommy and I have to admit that rollerblading and roller skating are in my blood. I have been skating since I was seven years old and I have tried many different roller skates during my skating career.
I hope my knowledge and passion for rollerblading and skating comes across and that you’ll find the product reviews insightful.