Inline Skating and Growing Up In Prospect Park

inline skatingI’ve been going to Prospect Park, one of my favorite places on earth, since I was a little boy. I learned to ice skate on the big outdoor rink when I was six years old with my floppy ankles splaying out towards the ice. The new rink just opened a week ago and I will be taking my kids sometime before their winter break is over.

I spent days and nights of my teens making mischief in the park and started inline skating endless laps around the loop in my thirties. My dogs and I have traversed an endless number of miles in pre-dawn hours and my daughter has already had a couple of birthday parties in the Nethermead so to say it has a well rooted home deep in my heart doesn’t begin to cover how I feel every time I enter its stunning expanse.

Yesterday morning, the day after a wonderful Christmas, we sat around playing Monopoly and The Game of Life. After that my wife and I couldn’t convince them of the value of a walk; they wanted to move on to Lego instead of using their legs. So I strapped on my blades that have been gathering dust of late, and skated out towards my little slice of heaven.

Leaving my house, skating to the park and doing a loop gets me back home in less than forty minutes. The weather was crisp, the road relatively empty and I was free to reflect on how wonderful and lucky my life is.

I haven’t written much about inline skating technique which mirrors my walking and posture work. It is all of a piece. One of the standing cues I use most often is to sit into a chair as little as possible. The act of beginning to sit down rotates the pelvis correctly and softens the backs of the knees. If you don’t go too far—and 3/8 of a inch is too far—than you will be standing very well.

Inline skating follows the same path except you are sitting slightly deeper.

Most recreational skaters tend to skate too upright with the blades turned out too much. For me the idea is to sit into a chair which helps to achieve which allows you to skate from the heels. The skate of the front leg should always be towards parallel just like in walking. Alternating the arms and legs—again like walking—is the way I skate though most serious skaters keep their hands behind their backs until they look for maximun speed.

Here is a link to some good classic technique. While my technique is pretty good I overuse my left leg. It almost always goes wider out to the side than my right. As much as I have worked on this, it is a habit that I find hard to break.

For more advanced skaters, there is a technique called the double push which is an amazing thing to see (check out the video) though incredibly difficult to achieve. In this technique you skate through both the inside and outside edge of the wheels. I am not that type of skater. Though I have done some seriously long distance inline skating in my time, I don’t do anything quickly, so speed skating has never been my thing but it is a thing of beauty.

If you have never tried inline skating, which is not nearly as popular as it once was, it is a great, and highly recommended form of exercise and fun. I am getting ready to go out for another skate this morning through Prospect, the world’s most wonderful park.

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