Many people are nervous initially to in-line skate because of a fear of falling. But if you spend some time working on your balance, you can feel confident strapping on a pair of skates and cruising to an awesome workout for your hips and thighs.
Get your leg and buttock muscles conditioned beforehand, and you’ll be able to skate for miles along the Columbia River, Salmon Creek, Discovery or Padden Parkway trails before you get fatigued and have to stop. Here are a few activity-specific exercises and balance drills to help you gain confidence in a unstable sport.
• One legged stance: Begin by standing on one foot. Slowly bend your knee, lowering your body a few inches and then raising back up again. Make sure your knee points straight ahead and maintain proper, upright posture throughout the entire exercise. If your balance isn’t very good to begin with, you may want to have something sturdy close by to hang onto in case you lose your balance. Perform 13-20 reps on each leg. You can do this exercise while brushing your teeth, talking on the phone or making dinner — that way, you’ll easily fit it into your day. As you get better, try this exercise with your eyes closed, which would display a more advanced level of balance (not while cooking, though).
• Upper body + One legged stance: It’s also easy to implement balance training while doing traditional upper body exercises. Replace any exercise that you would generally do standing on both legs with standing on one leg. For example, bicep curls or lateral shoulder raises on 1 leg.
• 2 x 4 training: Head down to your local hardware store and pick up a long piece of wood. You can walk across the board like you are on a tight-rope, then do it up on your toes, and then try it walking backwards. You can shuffle side-to-side across the board. You can catch and throw a ball to a partner while maintaining balance on the 2 x 4. Your options are endless. You can also do this along a curb or a log at the beach or park.
• Exercuff Side Steps: This is a great exercise to strengthen your hips and outer thigh — very important for the push-off phase of in-line skating. Wrap an exercuff or tube around your ankles. Step side-by-side, not allowing your legs to cross the midline of your body. Repeat for 1-2 minutes.
• 1-leg Airplane Hinge: This exercise is a great one to strengthen the entire posterior part of your body, which is critical to the tucked position associated with in-line skating. Start by standing on one leg while holding a medicine ball or hand-weight at your chest. Slowly bend forward at the hips while one leg extends backwards as you press the ball/weight toward the ground. Keep your abdominals contracted throughout the entire exercise. Your goal should be to achieve a horizontal body position. Focus on lengthening your body — lengthen your legs, point your toes, hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position. Continue for 13-20 reps on each leg.