>>>Skate Saftey: 10 Tips to Keep You Safe on Skates
Skating is a fun and exciting sport. But with the excitement comes dangers that many skaters are unaware of. Uneven pavement, hills, pedestrians and traffic are all obstacles that skaters deal with on every session. We have a few tips to help you avoid injury and keep you safe on your skates.
>>>Protect Your Neck!
Helmets are the most neglected piece of safety equipment, yet they protect the most important part of the body. Head and neck injuries can easily be prevented if simply wear a helmet. Helmets, in the past, have been bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Helmets, today, are sleek, light-weight, breathable, and form-fitting. There is no excuse for not wearing a helmet.
>>>Wrist-guards, Wrist-guards, Wrist-guards!
The importance of wrist and hand protection cannot be stressed enough. One of the most common (and painful) skating injuries is a broken wrist. This happens when a skater falls forwards or backwards, and uses their hands to catch themselves. Wrist-guards will prevent you, in most cases, from a broken wrist and other injuries since we have the natural inclination to catch ourselves with our hands when we fall. Even if the fall is not "bone-breaking", it is always good to have wrist-guards to prevent scrapes and cuts to the palm of the hand.
>>>Pads - Break Your Fall, Not Your Bones!
A full set of pads is great insurance for a skate injury. It may sound strange, but the best protection from injury is to learn how to fall. Falling the wrong way, even if you are wearing pads, can be dangerous. If you know you are going to fall, commit to the fall and prepared yourself. Position yourself so that the brunt of the force is directed towards your padded areas. This is where wrist-guards will come into play. Since you will naturally try to catch yourself, use your (protected) hands to take some of the fall. If this is not possible, try to position your other padded areas(knees and elbows) to cushion your fall.
>>>Caution - Hills Ahead
Speeding down a hill is an exhilarating experience. But there is a flip side to the fun. Hills can be extremely dangerous. The slightest crack can catch your wheel and cause you to lose control. When you confront a hill, ask yourself: "Do I have the skills to take this hill? How much speed will I gain and can I control that speed? Is the bottom of the hill clear of traffic/pedestrians? Is the pavement smooth enough for breaking? etc..." Know your terrain. Know where the bottom of the hill leads and if there is enough room for breaking. Control your speed with a heel break and do not skate past your abilities. If you find yourself loosing control of speed or balance, look for a grass or dirt and try to fall into softer ground. Be weary of hills, especially if you are new to skating. They look like fun but hills should not be taken lightly.
>>>Foot Traffic Safety
Boardwalks, lakeside trails, and urban centers are perfect for skating. But these paved surfaces are mainly populated by pedestrians. Skating through pedestrian traffic can be fun but also dangerous, not only for you as a skater but also the guy walking his dog. If you crash at speed, you can cause serious injury to yourself and the pedestrian. Always slow down around foot traffic and give walkers the right of way. Avoid heavily trafficked areas if you are not able to maneuver through the crowd. If you run into a crowded area, a skating technique called snaking works well to maneuver through the people. By placing one skate in front of the other(so that the your feet are in line), you narrow your skating stance and are able to "snake" through a crowd. Try to anticipate where people will step and try to see what's coming. Give fair warning when skating behind pedestrians, let them know you are coming.
>>>Get the Right Skate with the Right Fit
Before you buy a new pair of skates, ask yourself the following: "What type of skater are you? What is your skill level? What type of skating do you want to do?". If you are a novice skater, you don't want to buy a speed skate with large wheels and low cuff just because it looks cool. You will want a skate with smaller wheels and ample ankle support. Start off with a skate that will be easier to control and give more support. As you progress, you can easily upgrade to a sleeker faster skate. The next thing you want to consider is sizing. Sizing is different for all companies and everyone's feet are different. Your skates should be snug and should respond to your movements. If you are developing blisters or sore ankles, you probably have the wrong size. The rule of thumb is this: When you put on your skates, your toes should lightly touch the front of the boot when you're legs are straight, but should NOT touch when your knees are bent.
Talking skates? That's right. Your skates can tell you a lot by just listening to them. If your skates start making a strange noise, it usually means something is wrong. The bearings may be rusty or under-lubricated. A nut or bolt maybe loose. Always check your skates before putting them on. Flip them over and give your wheels a spin. Watch to see if they are spinning freely and listen for strange sounds. All bearings are not created equally so some inexpensive bearing brands are louder than others. Make sure you skates are in tip-top condition before going out on the next skate session. Check the brake pad for wear which brings us to our next tip...
>>>These are the Brakes
Breaking is the first thing you should learn and master. There are many methods of breaking but the heel break is the best and easiest way to stop. Some inline skaters tend to remove their breaks once they master different breaking methods. But it is always recommended that you alway have a heel break for safety. Always stay alert and anticipate the amount of time and space you need to brake. Most quad skates do not take a heel brake. Skates.com has engineered a break that will attach to most quad roller skates. Click here to watch a video of the Quadstop in action. Always make sure your brake pad is not past the wear line. Would you drive your car with worn-out brakes? Then you should never skate with over-worn brakes.
>>>Never Overestimate Your Skills
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Something that looks easy may not be so simple in reality. Take it slow and you will progress. Even if you have been skating for years, you are not impervious to common skate injuries. So always wear a helmet and pads.
>>>Skate Smart! Skate Safe!
With all the pads and protection, you should be ready to hit the streets safely. But the fact of the matter is that wearing a helmet will do absolutely nothing to prevent you from getting hit by a car! The best way to avoid injury is to use your head and common sense. Always assess the situation and stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Plan your route and take trails that you know. Use the buddy system when you are skating. It's a lot more fun than skating alone and it is safer, in the case one of you takes a tumble. Remember, when you skate smart, you skate safe!
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