Better Me

Roll On! 5 Tips to Stay Safe on Your New Roller Skates

They say fashion is cyclical, and they must be right. Macramé is hanging on walls, keyboard players are rock stars again, and just about every 1980’s movie classic has had a remake. Is it any surprise roller skates are a top trend in 2020? Whether you’re scrolling TikTok, Instagram or Facebook, you’ve surely seen teens ordering roller skates and lacing up to hit the sidewalks in style.

Roller skating (and rollerblading) is a great way to get moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. And once the pandemic is over, there’s no reason to throw your wheels to the back of the closet. Lafe Harris, DO, a sports medicine specialist at the Banner Health Clinic – Queen Creek in Arizona, offered a few helpful insights for first-timers and experienced skaters. Glide the neighborhood safely and get a great workout with these 5 tips.

1. Find the Perfect (Smooth) Skate Spot

Roller rinks are popular for a reason – nothing feels better than skating on a perfectly smooth surface. If you’re looking to find that perfect, no-friction cement in your neighborhood, you might have a harder time. But it does exists. Dr. Harris recommended, “During the pandemic, you might have an easier time finding an empty tennis or basketball court. These are great places to practice skills and dance moves.”

If you want to get a few miles in, a paved pathway through a greenbelt or along a canal is another great option. The pavement outside your house is great in a pinch. But, be sure to treat your feet to a smooth surface once in a while, especially if you’re just learning.

2. Wear Your Protective Gear

Falling while on your skates is just part of the experience. Dr. Harris warned, “Your wrists are most at risk on your body. While some falls are gentle, wrist fractures are very common. Wear wrist guards to protect yourself from these falls.” Dr. Harris also explained that “head injuries only make up about 5% of injuries. But any head injury carries a risk of concussion or worse. A helmet should be worn whenever you’re skating.”

Treatments for these injuries could range from a few days of rest to casting a broken bone. In the case of a concussion, the injury could take months to properly heal and require physical therapy. Dr. Harris reminded athletes, “Sports are fun. Injuries aren’t. Wear proper protection and take precaution so that you can stay skating rather than nursing a fractured wrist.”

3. Make Your Workout Fun

The best kind of workout is the one that makes you sweat without realizing it. Roller skating can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be. Dr. Harris recommended about 30 minutes of exercise every day and roller skating is an excellent way to earn those minutes.

4. Skate Together… Apart.

In a time when contact sports have been paused, roller skating is a great way to get moving. In fact, it is an excellent way to stay active with friends. Dr. Harris said, “It is completely possible to practice social distancing while roller skating with friends. It’s a great way to flex your social and physical muscles while maintaining a consistent smile the entire time.”

5. Say No to Hills

Roller skates have brakes, but have you ever tried using them? Especially when you’re just getting started, it’s easy to get out of control when skating down a hill. Pick routes that stay relatively flat. You can get a great workout cruising on level ground.

Have Fun!

Roller skating is a great way to express your creativity. Whether you’re just getting your first pair of skates or reigniting a fitness flame from your childhood, be safe, hydrated and happy. If you have questions about exercise, contact a Banner Health physician to start the conversation.

Sports Medicine COVID-19