Inline Skates

Total Newbie

I bought a pair of inline skates last week as I felt the need for additional exercise aside from the weekly weights session at the gym. I bought a pair of K2 FIT 84 from Slick Willies in Kensington.

These are my first pair of skates, and it was a substantial outlay for a beginner. I could have purchased some el-cheapo skates for £50 with which to learn. I mulled it over and decided I was pretty serious about skating and decided against wasting £50 just to learn. These are fast skates, the bearings are free-rolling and move so damn fast.

As a complete beginner you have balance problems, which is obvious to an observer. What is not obvious, is the need for muscle strength in your lower legs and particularly in your foot muscles. Upper arch muscles get worked hard. When skating, you start using foot muscles you have little used before, to remain vertical. You're standing on a single narrow strip of wheels instead of your flat foot base. You feel those foot muscles working. After 20 or 30 mins skating, my foot muscles fatigue and staying upright becomes a challenge.

If you ride a bicycle, you'll understand. The bike falls without forward momentum. Same applies to skating. You need forward momentum for balance, to overcome the gravitational pull, though ya can remain stationary locking your skates into a 'T'.

Moving forward can be okay, but stopping is a big problem. Most beginner boots come with a heel brake. I don't use it. I concentrate on and practice the 'T' brake. Pulling the right foot behind the left foot and dragging wheels to act as a brake and slow ya down. I relentlessly practice braking. If there is one thing more important than going, its stopping.

After one week, I can feel foot strength developing. Still not good enough, but some progress. I can stay upright without support for 20 or 30 mins, then my foot muscles flake out and I start to wobble. I need to stop or I'll tumble. Foot muscle fatigue has set in.

If you're a newbie you can practice raising and lowering on one foot, without skates. That will help a little, but not 100%. When you raise and lower your foot without skate, you're using a wide flat surface area for support. When you're on the skate, its a thin line of 1/4 inch wheel blades. Balancing on skate blades is somewhat more challenging.

Every morning I skate in the living room, back and forth to strengthen foot and leg muscles and slowly "get" my balance. It seems to be working. I'm not 100%, but its way ahead of the first day when I kissed the deck half-a-dozen times or more.

As your overworked foot muscles tire, you lose balance, cannot maintain good posture, and eventually fall. Be patient. Give your body the time it needs to strengthen those foot and lower leg muscles. It takes around a week for a muscle worked to exhaustion to fully recover.

See how you are in a week. You will improve.