Whether you do it for fun or take it up as a recreational activity; roller skating serves as an extremely good exercise and a beneficial training regimen for overall fitness and sports pedagogy. However, roller or inline skating is an extreme sport and requires proper gear for the utmost protection.
So, how can you buy the right equipment for roller skate protection? First and foremost, you should know what gear you require and why do you need that. Once you know what you need to buy, you can search and compare for quality before you buy equipment that is right for you and within your budget.
Most skaters suffer injuries when they lose balance or fall nastily over a hard surface. Wearing appropriate protection can reduce the likelihood of getting an injury or straining a muscle. Most common injuries occur in arms and hands; however, abrasions may appear on other parts of the body. Skaters who do not wear proper safety equipment or a helmet are more likely to suffer serious head injuries. This article provides a buying guide for roller skate protection.
Roller Skate Protection Gear
Roller skating is one of the safest forms of extreme sports. Roller skaters rarely achieve speeds as high as the bicycle riders do and they have better control while skating in comparison to the bike riders. Additionally, many of the injuries people suffer during roller skating can be easily prevented by wearing the proper protective gear.
Protective gear is absolutely essential while skating. Proper protective gear can eliminate major injuries and improve the safety and amusement of your overall skating experience. The only thing to remember is to always wear your safety gear while skating and wear it correctly. Here is a list of the equipment you should have for roller skate protection:
A complete set of roller skate protective gear includes four primary pieces, the most important of which is a helmet. Always invest in a helmet suitable for inline or aggressive skating because they are precisely designed to offer maximum protection when you fall backward on your head. These helmets cover the base of the skull and prevent any potential injury during a fall or slamming against hard surfaces.
Many of the skaters, who skate for fun, often use a bike helmet for skating. Although it is absolutely fine to use a bike helmet while skating, you should remember that the design of these helmets is different from that of a skating helmet. The helmets suitable for bike riding do not come down far towards the base of the skull. It is less likely that you fall backward while riding a bicycle, which is the primary reason for the difference in the design of the respective helmets.
Remember to fasten it well and position the chin strap snugly around the chin while wearing a helmet. A loose helmet with an improper fitting may not snug properly on your head and may slip off while skating or during a fall. The plummet may result in severe injury because your primary instinct will force you to grab your helmet in place of bracing for your fall. As a result, your head will be exposed to sudden injury. A properly fitting helmet is essential to prevent common concussions and severe head injuries.
Further, a helmet that does not fit properly defeats the purpose of wearing it in the first place. Make certain that you wear it correctly. Follow these guidelines on helmet positioning to measure your head and size your helmet correctly:
- Get a soft tape measure and wrap it around your head slightly above your eyebrows. Ensure to keep the level of the tape from front to back.
- In case, a soft tape measure is not available, you can grab a piece of string and use it in the same fashion as described above. Once you have the sized piece of string, you can measure it using a ruler to find the circumference point for your head.
- In case, you are purchasing the helmet for someone else and you do not know a measure for the head of that individual; take a measure of the inside of a current helmet the person is using. If even that is not possible, you can take a measure of the baseball hat that the person wears frequently for a perfect measure of the roller skate helmet size.
Once you have a measurement for the head, you can use it as a guide for selecting the proper size of your roller skate helmet. Kindly note that different companies and brands may have a slightly different range for helmet size. Remember to acknowledge the size variances that exist before finalizing a helmet according to your specific requirements.
Ideally, for adults, small size varies between 20-21.75 inches, medium size varies between 22-22.75 inches, and large size is between 23.25-24 inches. You can grab a one size fits all helmet that is suitable for 20.75-24 inches. For youth, toddler size is 18.5-20.5 inches; small/medium size is 20.5-22.5 inches, and medium/large size is 22.5-23.75 inches. You can get a one size fit all kids helmet for 19.5-22.5 inches.
Remember to ensure that you buy a helmet that meets all safety standards applicable for inline or roller skating. Ensure that the helmet is appropriately certified for use in roller skating. Make sure it fits and does not move around your head. Keep it well-maintained. Also, buy a helmet appropriate for the age of the skater. Make certain to wear it correctly and consistently during every skating session. Replace your helmet every five years or earlier when it seems worn out.
My recommendation would be OutdoorMaster check pricing on Amazon. As this helmet has ASTM & CPSC certificates. Has really good ventilation system what is essential when you skate at warm day and it is lightweight.
The second must-have important piece of protective gear is the knee pads. Inline skaters have a constant danger of getting cuts, sprains, scrapes, or broken knees. The soft, cushiony, inside layers of the knee pads under a hard, shell exterior prevent your knees from getting injured and scrapped when you fall.
You can find a whole variety of knee pads in the market. While they primarily serve to protect your knees, the materials may vary to allow maximum protection. The newest range of knee pads protect your knees without being heavy, bulky, or making you feel hot.
Best quality knee pads have additional cushioning behind their plastic shell casing. Wicking material is added on the inside of the knee pads to keep moisture locked and prevent it from causing any discomfort. You can fasten your knee pads by the two Velcro straps. These straps help in securing the pads snugly around your legs.
Usually knee pad, elbow pads, and wrist guards are sold all together. If you are looking protective gear for kids I want to recommend Innovative Soft Kids on Amazon.
For Adults my recommendation would be JBM check price on Amazon.
The third essential piece of protective gear is the elbow pads. These pads resemble knee pads in construction with the exceptions of size and area of application. You wear these pads around the elbows. You can fasten them by the two Velcro straps to fit them snugly on your elbows. Elbow pads have also evolved and transformed in variety over the past few years. Multiple layers of additional cushioning inside the plastic shell provide ample protection. Inside wicking material reduces sweat and moisture.
The final but extremely important piece of roller skate protective equipment is wrist guards. Many of the common skating injuries occur on the wrists. Furthermore, the majority of wrist injuries can be prevented by wearing a good pair of wrist guards.
You can find many different styles of wrist guards in the market. Some have a hard plastic casing on the bottom and top, others use a soft pad with plastic inserts to protect the palms. You can choose whatever type suits your skating requirements. You can also find wrist guards with inside wicking material for reducing sweat and moisture.
Some new skaters may witness a hard time wearing wrist pads. Here are some pro tips on how to correctly put on your wrist guards:
- Locate the hole for the thumb on each wrist guard.
- Locate the plastic panel which is specifically designed to guard your palms. You can easily locate this piece on the wrist guards without a plastic casing on the top and bottom. In the wrist guards that have plastic casing on the bottom and top, you should look for an area with a bulge. This bulging portion serves as a protective cushion for your palm.
- Make sure that the protected area for the palm is facing down while you put on the wrist pads. In case, the thumb holes do not face each other, you must have placed the wrist guards backward. Flip the guards so that the thumb holes for the two face each other.
- Gently slide in your thumb in the respective wrist guard. Remaining fingers will slip through space next to each thumb hole. Snugly secure your wrist guards around your palm by pulling the Velcro straps. Press the Velcro together gently to fasten it properly and tightly in place.
Apart from these roller skate protective equipment, some skaters prefer wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts as an extra step of protection against bruises, cuts, and scrapes. You can wear a pair of light gloves to keep your fingers safe. Also, wearing fitted mouthguards is recommended for activities like skating which involve falling and colliding.
Safe Places to Learn Roller Skating
Roller skate protection is not limited to protective gear but also where and how you skate. It is advisable for beginners and first-timer to skate in obstacle-free spaces such as empty parking lots, sidewalks, unused tennis courts, and flat, smooth pavements with grass by the side. It is often recommended for beginners to skate near grassy lands because grass provides a soft spot to fall when you are taking up initial skating lessons.
Further, trainers advice new skaters to avoid parks and well-traveled trails at the beginning of the skating sessions. This practice will give you enough time to hone your skills and maneuver safely before you hit the rink or roll down crowded pathways. You can always skate indoors or practice at an outdoor skating rink located in the neighborhood. These areas are regularly maintained and kept clean despite being busy. Also, the traffic flow in these areas is controlled enough to help you work on your skills and learn the intricacies of roller skating.
Roller Skating Safety Tips
Just wearing appropriate protective gear is not enough for roller skate protection. The following tips can help you ensure better safety when skating [source]:
- Prevent the urge to skate in the dark or during the night. Such an environment has low visibility and can make it difficult for the skaters to see obstacles or other skaters and passersby. In case, you have to skate in dark or the evening, you should wear reflective clothing so that you are appropriately visible even in the dark.
- Stay attentive to your surroundings. You should be aware and stay conscious of the vehicles, people, peer skaters, and bikers driving around you when you are skating outdoors. As a rule of thumb, you should check over your shoulder every 20 seconds. Keep your head moving left and right to survey your surroundings now and then.
- Do get some instructions and tips from experienced skaters before you initiate your skating sessions. You can consult peer skaters, family, and friends. You can approach a local skating rink for more formal training lessons. Trained instructors and experienced skaters can help you learn how to turn, balance, stop, and control speed on your skates. Learning the correct stance is essential to safe skating.
- Select a skating location that is safe and devoid of debris, uneven surfaces, and unsafe neighborhoods. Also, practice falling on gym mat or grass to learn how to fall gracefully if you cannot avoid it completely while learning.
- Always warm-up for 5-10 minutes before skating. This practice helps in conditioning your muscles and prepare them for a skating session.
- Avoid skating with headphones in crowded areas. Headphones or earbuds can restrict your ability to perceive pedestrians or hear traffic noises. If you want to put on your headphones, make sure the skating premises are free of obstacles and have controlled traffic. You can wear such items when skating along a skate trail or bike trail where peer skaters know the rules, and you do not have to worry about moving traffic.
- Skate with a partner. Skating alone can be fun, but skating with a partner is safer and equally enjoyable. With a peer skater, you get an additional pair of eyes to watch over you and two more ears to listen to you. If you ever get into trouble, you will have a reliable person to count on.
- Watch for cars and other vehicles. Stay on the lookout for vehicles especially when you are skating in the neighborhood where traffic comes down the street and around the corners. Use a crosswalk to cross the street on skates.
- Look for debris, cracks, and rocks in your path when you are skating. Even the smallest of stones can induce the risk of injury or cause a wreck to your skates.
- Never push your limits. Steadily progress through each skating level. Learning to skate involves patience, practice, and time. Learn and master the basic skills first, before you proceed to a more advanced level. Do not skate on hills until you are comfortable. Remember that you can quickly gain high speed on even a small hill. Avoid such locations for skating until you have mastered balancing in speed.
- Always skate in a single line when you are skating with friends or in a crowded area with other people. Stay towards the far-right of sidewalks, trails, and bike paths. Let other people know beforehand when you try to pass them. Indicating before helps other people avoid any unfortunate collisions and mishaps that may hurt you, or someone else.
- Stay courteous and civic-minded while skating. Keeping a friendly and helpful attitude helps in avoiding being a victim of bike-path skate rage. Further, it will prevent skating from being banned in your area.
- Watch out for altering weather conditions. A path that looks smooth in the beginning may not remain so a yard ahead. Never tow-ride behind vehicles and take permission before skating on private property.
How to Choose a Protective Equipment?
A little protection helps a lot in roller skating, especially when you are getting started. You cannot accomplish your skating journey without falling or getting hurt. Protective equipment helps reduce the risk of severe injury. You can find a whole variety of roller skate protection gear in the market. Many times new skaters rush to discount retailers or buy the very first pair they witness. This is not the right way to purchase protective gear for roller skating. The following considerations can help you purchase the right gear for your skating journey.
What Type of Skating Do You Do?
Not every type of skating is essentially the same. The type of skating you perform can impact the potential risk of injuries you may suffer. For example, recreational skating is not the same as roller derby or rolling and flipping in the local rinks and skate parks. Your activity and moves will decide the padding equipment you may require.
What Type of Padding Do You Require?
You may witness some trade-offs in terms of roller skate protection padding. It is observed that big, bulky pads provide more protection, however, they also restrict the range of motion and free movement. Artistic skaters prefer nit to wear any pads while roller derby players wear large, bulky pads to protect against potential fall which is a part of the game.
Experts recommend most protection for the starters irrespective of the skating type as they are more prone to falls and knee injuries as a part of their training program. Protective gear is essential for the long-term health of the muscles and joints. Sports markets are flooded with a variety of pads and protective gear. You should look for equipment that is good in quality and not so cheap.
If you buy cheaper equipment just to save money, you may end up buying a gear that does not serve the purpose and does not offer enough protection. Further, they will not last long. Good quality pads may be a little expensive but provide proper protection against injuries and falls. They are manufactured using quality materials and state-of-the-art techniques. The more you pay for them, the better protection they offer.
Make sure your pads fit properly. Consult the sizing chart of the retailer for the brands they offer. Do not buy large pads as you may fall in them. Larger pads reduce protection capacity. Again, do not buy pads that are too small. They may restrict circulation. Also, their shell casing will not cover the joints to offer proper protection.
Survey Before Purchase
You can find many good brands that offer nice protective gear at fairly affordable prices [source]. They are manufactured using high-quality material and are extremely durable and comfortable. A proper lacing system provides great fit and comfort while skating. You can also find a variety of pads and guards with a permanent splint to prevent slippage and ensure extra protection. There is a wide range of durable, slim fit protectors that are less bulky and comfier.
You can find knee pads from different brands made of tough, military-grade ballistic nylon in various sizing options. These are suitable for outdoor skating where you need extra care for the knees. Some knee pads are specifically designed for rigorous skating activities and offer high-level protection. Some have removable foam pads for easy washing and maintenance.
Most of the latest protection pads include a seamless interior to provide a streamlined shape and offer the utmost comfort. Industrial stitching makes them even more durable. You can also buy entry-level combo packs that have a set of basic protective gear under budget. These are suitable for beginners. Whether you pick a combo or buy every piece of the protective gear individually; always rely on a reputable brand that is known for designing skating equipment or other sports gear. The right protection will make your skating journey even more fun.
How to check for protection gear?
It is important to check your gear before you start skating. Here are some points to remember:
- Check that the position of your helmet is correct. Ensure that you can see the rim of your helmet. It should be about two finger-width above your eyebrows.
- Ensure that the straps are buckled correctly to form a V under your ears. Make sure the straps fit comfortably.
- Try to open your mouth as widely as possible. Tighten the straps if loose and ensure that the buckle fits flat against the skin.
- Check for signs of wear and tear. Discard or change old gear before time.