How to Rollerblade (Inline Skating)

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Introduction: How to Rollerblade (Inline Skating)

This Instructable will teach you the basics of urban skating with rollerblades. I started rollerblading as a way to exercise my high energy Siberian Husky. Rollerblading is a faster and lower impact sport than running, and more portable than biking. Now I have been rollerblading for 6 years. Rollerblading is sometimes considered a "retro" sport, but during a time of social distancing, it can be a fun way to get exercise and learn something new. Let's get started!

(Please use common sense and be safe! I cannot be responsible for any accidents or injuries resulting in following this Instructable.)

Step 1: Equipment and Safety

To begin rollerblading, you will need the following equipment:

  • Roller blades: If you don't already have a pair, you can find them at most sporting stores or online. Second-hand rollerblades are a good place to start if you don't want to spend a lot. Check that they match your shoe size.
  • Tall socks: The rocking movement of rollerblading can lead to chaffing, so wearing tall socks may be more comfortable.
  • Helmet: Always wear a well-fitting helmet when rollerblading! You can use a skating helmet or a bike helmet.
  • Wrist guards: These will help protect your wrists and palms if you fall.
  • Knee and Elbow Pads: These are also a great idea, especially for beginners.
  • Water: Its important to stay hydrated when exercising!

Step 2: Putting on Rollerblades

Put on your helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads before putting on the roller blades.

Sit down and put on your rollerblades. If you're wearing long socks, pull them up so there are no folds or wrinkles. Loosen the straps on the rollerblades and put them on just like you put on boots. Adjust the tongue so its centered and not folded. Many rollerblades will have laces, Velcro straps, ratchet straps, or a combination of these. Tighten all of the straps so that the rollerblades can provide ankle support.

To use the ratchet straps, (1) put the strap into the buckle so that it clicks as you tighten it. Then (2) push the lever on the strap against your leg. To release the ratchet, (3) push the button on top of the buckle.

The rollerblades should be tight enough that your feet can't slide inside the boot, but loose enough that they're not cutting off circulation. Try bending your ankle side to side. You shouldn't be able to see a gap between your leg and the rollerblade boot.

Step 3: Getting Started (in the Grass)

Start by finding a soft grassy area where you can get a feel for your rollerblades. If grass is not available, mulch or gravel will work too.

It may be helpful to hold onto a wall, a railing, or friend during these exercises.

Stand: Begin by moving from a sitting to a kneeling position. Get to a squatting position, using your hands to steady yourself. Now slowly stand up the rest of the way. Keep your knees slightly bent and position your feet shoulder width apart.

Lean: Keep your knees bent and look straight ahead. Using your arms for balance, practice leaning side to side, then forward and backwards.

Sliding/Walking: Now try walking forward in the grass, taking small steps to get comfortable with moving. If lifting your feet is intimidating, you can also try sliding one foot forward at a time. Alternate feet to practice moving forward.

Step 4: Moving to the Pavement

Now it is time to move on to the pavement! Select a location with a flat, smooth surface, such as an empty parking lot or flat driveway. Avoid places with traffic or other pedestrians. Practice the three exercises (standing, leaning, sliding/walking) on the pavement this time. Again, it may be helpful to hold onto a wall, a railing, or friend.

Build Speed: Now stand with one foot pointing forward and the other angled slightly out in a V shape. Keeping most of your weight in the leading foot (pictured as line with arrow), use your angled foot (plain line) to propel yourself forward. When the stroke is complete, bring your angled foot forward again, parallel and shoulder width apart from your other foot. Balance your weight evenly between both legs. Try alternating feet.

Coast: Walk or slide a little faster and build up enough speed to coast. When you're ready, bring your feet shoulder width apart and let your momentum carry you forward. Make sure to keep your knees bent and look where you want to go. (If you look at the ground, that's where you'll go!)

Step 5: Stopping

There are many ways to stop on rollerblades, but the heel brake and T-stop are some of the best for beginners. You can also bail by running in the grass if you need to :)

Heel Break: Many urban skates have heel brake (see picture 1 and 2). Start by coasting, keep your knees bent and your feet parallel.

    (1) Slowly bring your braking foot forward and transfer your weight to your back (non-braking) leg.

    (2) Slowly bring your braking foot heel to the ground, and allow the friction between the brake and the pavement to stop you.

    To brake faster, apply more pressure to your forward braking foot. This braking method will not work downhill.

    T-Stop: If you do not have a heel brake or would like to brake faster, the T-Stop is a good option. Start by coasting with your knees slightly bend and feet parallel. Shift your weight into your non-braking foot but keep this leg bent. Pick up the braking foot and put it behind you perpendicular to your non-braking foot (like a T). Make sure the braking foot is centered behind you (avoid an L shape). Drag the braking foot to stop. To brake faster, apply more pressure to the dragging foot.

    • If this position is difficult, try practicing in the grass first.
    • If you find yourself turning while trying to stop, make sure your shoulders are pointing forward and you are looking straight ahead. Do not apply pressure to your braking foot until it is behind you in a T shape.

    Step 6: Turning

    There are many ways to turn, but here are the simplest:

    Leaning: Start by coasting with your knees slightly bent and your feet parallel. Look where you want to go, following by turning your head, shoulders, spine, and hips in that direction. Slowly lean in the direction you want to turn and lead with your outside foot. To turn faster, while moving your outside foot forward, move your inside foot back.

    Regular Turn: Coast with your knees bent and feet parallel. This turn is similar to a T-Stop. Shift your weight to your leading foot and pick up your trailing foot. Place your trailing foot behind you perpendicular to the leading foot in an L shape (your heels will point towards each other, like a ballet plié). To make a wider turn, keep your heels further apart at an obtuse angle; to make a tighter turn, bring your heels closer together and use a 90 degree angle.

    Toe Turn: To achieve a very tight turn (almost a pivot), use a regular turn, but instead of putting your trailing foot behind you, point your trailing toe and only let the front wheel touch the ground. Just like in the regular turn, make a wide turn by keeping your feet apart and your toe at an obtuse angle to your leading foot. Make a tight turn by bringing your trailing toe closer to the heel of your leading foot at an acute angle.

    • Make sure you look in the direction you want to turn and allow your shoulders, spine and hips to turn.

    Step 7: Longer Distances

    Now that you know the basics, it's time to take your skills to the street! Here are some final tips before you go:

    Supplies

    • Water: You can carry a water bottle, or hold it in a backpack or hip pack. If you carry a backpack, make sure it is light weight and snug, so it doesn't throw you off balance
    • Lubrication: You can apply dry or semi-dry bearing grease or bike chain lubrication to keep your bearings rolling smoothly. Avoid wet lube, since this will retain dirt and grit.

    Location

    • Paved bike paths are idea since they are wider than side walks.
    • Rolling the in street is not advised especially on busy roads.
    • Follow all pedestrian rules and etiquette in your area. Make sure rollerblading is allowed before going out.

    Weather

    • Check the weather before you go out: getting caught in the rain or rollerblading on wet or icy pavement is difficult and dangerous!
    • You can roll through small puddles, but wipe down your wheels with a rag after your ride, so the bearings don't rust.

    Have fun and good luck!

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