Your Skates After Injury
Some of the greatest blog post inspirations come from your questions and this week, we're talking lower body injuries. Oh no, don't talk about injuries, no one wants to hear about that. Well, the reality is that most of Neon Skates' fans play a contact sport, and as with any sport, let alone one that involve hits, injuries can occur. Not talking about it doesn't make them go away and it certainly doesn't help us deal with them.
The first and most important point we'll make about injuries is that you need to listen to your doctor and/or physiotherapist regarding when you're ready to get back at it. Don't just do what Mary Jo Skaterpants did when she got injured; talk to a professional about YOU. In this case, you are a unique flower and your medical needs are specific to what you've gone through.
Okay, bleh, serious stuff aside, now you've been given the green light to return. AWESOME, just strap on those skates and go right? Whoa Nelly, let's take a second to really think about how skates work!
Yup, I said it, they roll. Captain Obvious here is reminding you that they are not stable. But, as you need to gain the confidence to get back on them, there are some baby steps to fake it 'til you make it.
The two best ways to test your skates without them rolling out from under you is to put them on on carpet, or to tighten the wheels right to that initial point where they don't roll. Don't turn too far—no need to bust your bearings—just enough so that you won't move forward or backwards when you put them on. Need some more lateral stability? Dig up those Flat Out wheels that they came with. There is a very good reason that newbie skates come with them: they help stabilization a ton. Stand in them, squat in them, try taking a few steps and see where your challenges are going to be. Better in your living room than in the middle of a cold, hard arena.
Your skates are meant to turn based on changes in your weight distribution. This is the major difference between quads and inlines, which have a fixed frame and no moving trucks. This seems to be what returning skaters often take for granted. As you learn to skate, you develop new muscles, flex your toes, and bend and shift to get your skates to move the way you want them to. Returning to skates isn't just about healing, it's about re-learning how to replicate those movements you may never even have noticed AND most importantly, rebuilding muscles that may very honestly have atrophied. The best way to build those muscles again is to start from scratch. Tighten your trucks to the ridiculous setting they were at when you got them. You know, the setting that made you ask "aren't these supposed to turn?" Get 5+ threads showing on the kingpin. If you've put marshmallow soft cushions on them, switch them out for the hard ones because you may not be able to tighten them enough to prevent movement. If you've set up your trucks so that they're looser in the front, consider equalizing them again front and back for more stability. As you start building those fancy muscles of yours again, loosen those puppies a quarter turn each time so that you make gradual gains. "Should I do it to both skates" you ask, even if you've only injured one side? I would. Just because your right foot can still skate like a boss doesn't mean your left can keep up.
THEY BREAK IN
Your skates took your shape a long time ago. They stretched in all the right places, conformed to your feet and based on your posture, wore in the insoles just so. But, injury makes you change. Maybe you have to wear a brace now or your bone structure is different. I remember a skater friend of mine getting so frustrated on skates after her first pregnancy and I had to remind her that her hips were LITERALLY in a different place. Yup, that will affect your posture and subsequently how you stand in your skates. Flexibility is a factor too. If you can't flex your ankle as far because of a sprain, you will stand taller and your center of gravity will tend to move back when you try to squat, forcing you to compensate moving up onto your toes. For this, try out new things, stuff that worked before may not work now and don't let it frustrate you. Find what does work. Change insoles, try barefoot booties, lace your skates differently. Be adaptable so that your skates can suit the new you.
In the end, sometimes you have to go back to principles that got you skating in the first place. There is no shame in this, and it will be a lot faster to get you back up to your full potential if you don't try to skip steps that may cause you more harm. Trying to use your skates that have been set up for advanced usage may be the worst thing you can do. Be patient. Ask us for advice if you need a few pointers on how to adapt your skates. That's what we're here for!