Inline Skating: A Low-Impact Way to Build Strength and Burn Calories
Inline skating can provide all the health benefits of ice skating without the limited rink size and cold temperatures.
Inline skating is like ice skating without the limits or cold temperatures of an ice rink, its fans say. That’s just one reason it has become so popular. Inline skating can also give you the aerobic benefits of jogging or running on a treadmill, but with only about half the impact on knees and other joints.
A 160-pound person who skates at 8 mph burns about 183 calories in 30 minutes. Raising the workout speed to 16 mph burns 558 calories.
Inline skating is more than just fun. It helps build hamstrings, buttocks, hip and lower back muscles. The action of skating, which can include brisk arm swinging, can help tone biceps, triceps and shoulder muscles.
If you want to pursue inline skating for fitness, your first pair should be recreation or fitness skates. Other speed, hockey or aggressive skate models are made to let you skate faster. But these upgrades can overwhelm some newer skaters, who may not be adept at braking.
Recreational skates usually include boots with firm ankle support and wheels that give greater control. Fitness skates are similar, but with larger wheels and a lower-cut boot. Both models have attached brakes.
The cost of good inline skates can vary. More expensive skates may have more features, and lower-cost ones may have lower-quality plastic boots with less ankle support. Cheaper models may also have hard plastic wheels or brakes that make stopping more difficult.
Protective equipment is a must for inline skating. Skaters who end up in the emergency room are often beginners who wear little or no safety gear. Many fall due to:
- Loss of balance
- Hitting road defects or debris
- Lack of braking skills
Skaters should always wear proper-fitting gear, including:
- A helmet designed for inline skaters
- Knee and elbow pads
- Wrist guards
The typical fall usually involves an outstretched arm hitting a hard surface. This can happen due to your speed, obstacles in your path or landing on a hard surface. Injuries from equipment failure or hitting motor vehicles are rare.
Most injuries occur in the shoulder or arms, with wrist and forearm fractures leading the way. Leg, head and trunk injuries also occur, but it is rare to suffer multiple injuries from a single fall.
Skating lessons can help you to cut down on injuries and build confidence. You should learn about safe practices, as well as how to stop and fall.
To avoid serious injuries, newer skaters should:
- Wear bright or reflective clothing
- Skate on smooth surfaces without traffic
- Avoid skating on streets, driveways or surfaces with water, sand, gravel or dirt
- Learn to stop safely with brakes
- Avoid skating at night
You may help reduce physical stress from inline skating by warming up, cooling down and stretching. This may improve the range of motion in joints and elasticity in muscles. Stretching exercises can be done for your calves, hamstrings, hips and back.
Most people who suffer injuries during inline skating have no formal instruction. Many have learned to skate by trial and error. By learning how to avoid errors, you have the best chance to avoid injuries.