Rollerblading is an extreme sport that requires stamina, balance, coordination, and physical strength. The sport requires the active involvement of your core muscles and legs. Therefore, anyone who plans to practice rollerblading must develop the required muscle strength and physical stamina before taking up the rollerblading sessions. Despite that, it is not new for roller bladers to complain of knee pain.
Is rollerblading bad on the knees? Well, if your body does not have the required stamina and strength, rollerblading may put some pressure on the knees. With that said, rollerblading is considered an amazing exercise in itself, which is good for overall body strength with the least impact on the knees.
You should consider practicing some strength-building exercises or yoga to develop muscle strength and stamina. If you come from a sports background, building strength and adapting the body for the necessary stretch required by the sport may not be difficult. However, if you are a novice, it is advisable to practice core-building and muscle-training exercises before you plan to take your rollerblading sessions.
Rollerblading and Knee Injury
Many times, we relate rollerblading to a knee injury. Truth is, you may develop a knee problem if you are not keeping the right posture, not following the tricks correctly, fall on your knees, or twist them when you skate. Otherwise, rollerblading does not have a notable impact on your knees. Despite this fact, a report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission on inline skating reveals that over 61,000 people received treatment for inline skating related injuries in different medical institutions in the year 2007 [source].
Many of the rollerblading knee injuries are preventable if you consider the following safety tips:
- Carefully learn the basics. You should know how to tread, stop, and maintain balance before you hit the trails. Further, make sure that you correctly follow the techniques and maintain appropriate stature. An improper form may put undue pressure on your knees when you glide with your skates.
- Keep the correct posture. [source] Do not slouch or bend. Ideally, you should maintain a straight posture with your head above your shoulders and your shoulders above your core. Slouching forward weakens your core and puts additional pressure on your knees. Always bend your torso whenever required by a trick. Learn to maintain a squat position for as long as you can.
- Always wear safety gear. Never rollerblade without a helmet, elbow pads, wrist protectors, and knee pads. Make sure that you wear your knee guards every time you rollerblade. Wearing protective gear can minimize the likelihood of severe musculoskeletal injuries to a great extent. According to research, wearing wrist guards may account for 87 percent fewer wrist injuries; wearing elbow pads reduces potential elbow injuries by 82 percent, and wearing knee pads may decrease potential knee injuries by 32 percent. Similarly, the helmet protects against head injury.
- Make it a habit of wearing your protective gear even before you put on your skates. They may not look trendy at first, but they are extremely important to avoid fractures and prevent bad bruises.
- Indulge in some warm-up exercises before your rollerblading session. These exercises help in conditioning your muscles and core for the pressure required by the sport. You can also perform warm-up exercises after rollerblading to ease out and relax your muscles. You can also include some off-skate weight training exercises to your workout sessions to strengthen the muscles of knees and legs. Equally, focus on your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles to reduce pressure on your knees during exercise.
- Learn the rules of the road and obey them. Stay towards the right side, stop at traffic signals, and do not suddenly change lanes.
- Completely avoid rollerblading in crowded pavements, or walkways full of people and obstacles. Particularly beginners must avoid areas with obstacles, hills, uneven surfaces, or heavy traffic.
- Always buy the correct pair of boots that fit properly. Your skates should not be too tight to put pressure on your feet or cause blisters. Again, they should not be too lose to disrupt your balance and cause toppling over. Wear the same socks you use during rollerblading sessions while selecting your shoe size. Get a feel for the boots for a while before finalizing the purchase. A good idea is too keep your feet towards the back of your boots, buckle up and skate for a while. Make sure that the heels are tight and do not move while skating. It is advisable to select your skates after training for the best fit.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight when you rollerblade. Excess weight makes you more susceptible to chronic knee pain or injury. Try to shed those extra pounds and maintain a healthy BMI to prevent knee issues.
- Know your limits and do not over-train in any case. You may apply picture-perfect techniques to limit the stress on your knees during rollerblading sessions; you may experience an injury regardless if you overload your stamina and push your limits. Your muscles become more prone to injuries when you over-train them.
- Learn the right way to fall if you cannot avoid it completely [source]. Falling on your back may injure your head, hips, and tailbone. Falling on your face may injure your facial features, knees and wrist muscles. For the best fall, you should move your body slightly forward keeping your ribcage, arms, and head away from directly hitting the surface. Try sitting down using one side of the thighs and buttocks to avoid injuring the fragile tailbone. Your strong thigh bones will absorb the impact of the fall. Never use your hands to try to break a fall. You may not completely avoid the likelihood of a fall in an extreme sport like rollerblading. But a good falling technique avoids major abrasions and keeps you conscious and alert without severe injury.
Most rollerblading injuries [source] including a knee injury, sprains, and fractures; are musculoskeletal in nature. Most of these injuries are traumatic and may require the skater to take a break from the sport for some time. For mild injuries, medical practitioners may advice standard initial treatments such as rest, using ice packs, compression wraps, and keeping the injured part at a height to reduce swelling and sprain.
However, severe injuries involving joint or bone deformity suggesting a fracture or dislocation may require proper medical evaluation, preliminary surgery, long term medication and rest. Non-surgical injuries are treated using braces, casts, or splints depending on severity and location.
Helpful Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees
Rollerblading engages the muscles of your legs and core including quadriceps, glutes, abductors, adductors, calves, shins, abs, and back extensors. Therefore, a regular workout is necessary to maintain muscle strength, develop endurance, and ensure stability. The following off-skate exercises help in strengthening your knees and developing required stamina [source]:
- Lunge and Reverse Lunge – You can try regular lunges, side lunges, or walking lunges. However, the reverse lunge is gentle on your knees and helps in building muscle strength without much pressure. Ensure that you sit straight and tall without bending your torso.
- Single-Leg Deadlifts – Most exercises often neglect the back of your legs. Deadlifts can help break the conundrum. Standing on one leg does increase the challenge. Initially, you can start without any weight. Once you are comfortable, you can add some weight to the hand opposite your working leg. You can further increase the difficulty level by combining reverse lunge and single-leg deadlifts for the same working leg.
- Skater Hop Hop – Remember, speed is not a priority in this exercise. Start slow and work out smoothly. Lunge wide and low as you move from one side to the other. Land solidly on one foot and pause for a while before taking a single leg jump. You can add more one-leg hops to increase the difficulty level.
- Step-ups – The goal is to work out your stepping leg. Exhale when you step up to keep your core muscles naturally engaged. You may wobble in the beginning. Once you are comfortable with the movement try adding some weights in both hands to get your step-ups to the next level.
- Calf Raise – [source] Bend your knees at 45-degrees. Maintain position and slowly rise up and down on your toes. Try moving your knees in and out to target calf muscles. You can even perform this exercise with your skates. In that case, you need to bend your knees at 45-degrees and extend your leg to a side with your toes pointing forward. Alternate your legs and pump your arms as you move forward.
- Leg Lifts – Bend your knees at an angle of 45-degrees. Slowly extend one leg to the side. Lift the leg and drop. Change your leg and repeat. Try extending your leg to the back, lift and drop for a variation.
- Lower Back – Bend your knees at 45-degrees keeping your hands-on hips. Gently lower your body to position it to parallel to the floor. Straighten your back and repeat for a while.
Most of these exercises engage your hips, thighs, glutes, and core muscles. You can combine these exercises with a cardio interval workout session. For this, perform fast pace skating for about ten minutes including three easy ten-second bursts of speed skating and intermediate rest periods. Ideally, take 35-second rest in between 25-seconds fast skating sessions. Try at least 20 repetitions followed by 10 minutes of easy skating for relaxation.
Which muscle groups do rollerblading activate? Rollerblading activates multiple muscle groups primarily located in your lower body. [source] Along with a good cardio workout, rollerblading engages the following muscles:
- Glutes – Your glute muscles include gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius. During rollerblading, you perform hip abduction and hip extension that activates these muscles. Hip abduction motion occurs when you move off the ground by laterally shifting your thighs. This movement also engages the tensor fascia latae, a small muscle on your outer hip. Again, hip extension occurs while moving your thighs backward.
- Quadriceps – These muscles reside on the front thighs and include the Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Lateralis, and Rectus Femoris. You activate these muscles whenever you flex your hip or extend the knees.
- Hamstrings – These muscles form the back of your thighs right below the glutes. This muscle group is activated when you flex your knees while lifting the foot off the ground or extend your hips.
- Adductors – This is a small group of muscles in the inner thighs. You work out these muscles while moving your thighs inward.
- Abdominals – Abdominal muscles consist of obliques and the rectus abdominis, which is a large muscle running from the chest down towards the pelvis. Obliques lie diagonally alongside the ribs. You use these muscles in rollerblading to produce force, maintain balance, and stabilize your spine. Skating at a fast pace puts more intense pressure on these muscles.
How does rollerblading affect my body? Rollerblading may have the following effects on your body [source]:
- Improve fitness level – Rollerblading maximizes your oxygen consumption. According to research by the Medicine Science in Sports Exercise published in the year 1996, rollerblading produces a similar increase in the oxygen level as observed in the case of running or time spent over a treadmill.
- Weight loss – Rollerblading burns more calories than running or any other exercise for a similar duration. According to a study, a person weighing 160 lbs can burn around 913 calories in an hour session of rollerblading.
- Better aerobic exercise – Rollerblading puts less pressure on your knees and joints in comparison to other aerobic exercises like jogging or running. As per research by the Medicine Science in Sports Exercise in the year 1997, rollerblading puts less impact than running and accounts for lower joint or muscle injuries. According to the research, rollerblading can be taken up as a replacement aerobic exercise over jogging or running.
- Tones muscles – Rollerblading involves rhythmic eccentric and concentric muscle contractions. Further, prolonged isometric muscular contractions help in developing lower body strength. With a good form and correct posture, you can work out all the muscle groups in your lower body during a rollerblading session. The adductor and abductor muscles help in providing power and stability during motion. In addition, swinging your arms not only helps in maintaining balance and gaining momentum but also gives a good workout to your upper body muscles. You can target your hand muscles by adding weights to your arms.
I accidentally ruptured an external meniscus and suffering from knee pain. What advice do you have for me if I want to continue with rollerblading? [source] The best advice is to train for the sport with lots of leg and core muscle exercises before you restart your rollerblading sessions. You can try some off-skate exercises or yoga to develop muscle strength. Your core and glute muscles help in primarily stabilizing your body during an extreme sport like rollerblading. Therefore, maintaining a strong core is a must.
You can combine your workout sessions with different types of yoga poses to develop strength and flexibility. A combination of strength training and flexibility workout will keep your body in a perfect form required by rollerblading. Yoga styles such as Bikram yoga or Hot yoga work out your legs, glutes, and core, which support your knee joints. It may help you recover quickly and get back to your rollerblading sessions.
You can explore yoga as a cross-training activity to figure out how it fits your condition. Remember to inform your trainers about your injury before you start practicing yoga for recovery. Your trainer may suggest special exercises to strengthen your knees, back, hips, and ankles that may assist in quick recovery.
What are the common to severe knee injuries a person may suffer from a fall? [source] Most of the time, skaters suffer a minor injury during a fall, which may result in a bruise or sore knee. However, a firm blow may occasionally cause severe damage to the kneecap or in extreme cases to put it out of alignment, a condition medically termed as patella misalignment. It can cause further damage to the knee tissue and cartilage leading to chondromalacia patella if not treated on time by the physiotherapist.
In some cases, skaters may injure a knee by a sudden twist. Such injuries involve damage to the ligaments that keep the knee joint in place. You may suffer extreme pain on the inside of your knee because of the damage to the medial collateral ligament. Also, you may experience intense pain at the front of the knee when you damage the anterior cruciate ligament. In this case, the knee is unable to take the weight of the skater and may require corrective surgery.