As a new skater, you’re most likely hyper-focused on keeping your balance and not falling. The last thing on your mind is your posture, let alone your skating technique. However, these are some of the most common mistakes beginners make when starting out.
They often find that their legs and ankles lean inwards as they’re skating, which can pose a problem if they’re trying to find their footing in rollerblading.
In this article, you’ll learn what causes this phenomenon and how to keep ankles straight when rollerblading.
Table of Contents Hide
- Why do my ankles hurt when rollerblading?
- Why do my ankles lean inwards on rollerblades?
- How to keep ankles straight when rollerblading
- How to strengthen ankles for rollerblading
Why do my ankles hurt when rollerblading?
In this type of sport, you’re bound to experience some type of foot pain at one point or another. Rollerblading puts significant pressure on your feet and can injure them if you’re not careful. However, it’s normal to feel some aches and pains when first starting out.
Shifting your weight too far back
One of the most common complaints among skaters is experiencing pain along the inner ankle.
Normally, your weight should be on the ball of the foot. When you shift your weight back into your heel, you engage a muscle tendon that goes right along the inner ankle. The tendon is also directly underneath your laces, resulting in pressure or pain around that area.
To fix this, you would need to bend your knees more and get into the habit of correcting your body posture for rollerblading.
Another problem you might experience is pain on the bony part on the side of your foot. This is not a technical issue but rather due to your natural anatomy.
You can help alleviate the pain by heat molding your skates (if possible), add donut padding to the area, and/or finding the right brand of skates that better fit your feet.
Feet are too tense
Try to relax your feet when you skate.
You might experience foot or ankle pain if your feet and toes are constantly tense and gripping. Make sure that this is not a result of having skates that are not the correct size.
Skates are not yet broken in
If you just got new skates, this could be a reason why you’re experiencing some pain while rollerblading.
Unless you heat mold your skates, it will take some time for your skates to adjust to your feet.
The inner skate liner will gradually mold to your feet due to the heat, moisture, and pressure you put them through over time.
You can reduce the time needed to break into your skates by wearing them whenever you’re at home and are able to sit around for a decent amount of time.
Why do my ankles lean inwards on rollerblades?
When you’re first starting out, rollerblading can feel like an extremely foreign activity. After having been on your own two feet for all of your life, you’re now challenged to stand on those same two feet on top of a set of moving wheels.
It feels really awkward, and it shows in the way many beginners position themselves in the rink with their ankles leaning inwards.
We’ve all been there. However, it can be disheartening and even painful if you don’t know why this is happening. Here are some reasons why you might be having this problem:
Incorrect skate size
Incorrect sizing in either the width or length of the skate can contribute to inward leaning ankles.
Ideally, your skates should be hugging your feet on all sides. There shouldn’t be any wiggle room for your feet to slide around. Otherwise, you will not be able to skate properly and potentially form bad habits.
An easy way to check if you have the correct size or not is by checking the length with your fingers.
When you put your skates on, lightly kick a wall so that your toes go all the way to the end of the toe box. Then, slip two fingers into the back of the heel. If you can feel a generous amount of space with your fingers in there, then you should consider getting new skates.
This technique also applies to the width of the skate if you slip your hands into the sides.
While we can normally get away with not tying our sneakers correctly, we pay a higher price if we do the same with rollerblades.
Properly lacing your rollerblades will ensure that your feet are secure and in place inside the boot. Loose lacing can make it easier for your ankles to lean inwards.
To properly lace your skates, first, make sure that the tongue is centered. Then, start tightening the laces beginning from the bottom and work your way to the top. Now, this is an art in and of itself.
You want to lace your skates tight enough so that your foot is secure but also loose enough so that your ankle is able to flex forwards and backwards freely. There should be minimal space at the top of the boot once you’re done.
It takes some time to get used to rollerblading and it can be scary and unpredictable to someone new to the sport.
To avoid ankles that lean inwards, the main thing you have to address is your position.
You want to keep your ankle straight over the boot, your knee over the ankle, your hips over the knees, and your upper body straight and facing forwards.
It is natural to want to lean towards the inside, so in the beginning you have to make a conscious effort to counter this force. With practice, it will feel more and more natural to skate this way.
Even with good technique, you might have a hard time balancing. Currently, you cannot keep your balance on one leg, and your weight is in between your legs. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out of this other than to practice, practice, practice.
Get used to the feeling of skating and practice balancing on one leg when you’re not in skates.
How to keep ankles straight when rollerblading
The best way to avoid the awkward inward curving of your ankles is to fix your technique and increase your ankle strength.
Don’t expect to get this right away, as it is not initially natural for you to move this way. However, you’ll eventually get the hang of it over time with practice.
Fix your body posture
Out of all of the tips we’ll show you in this article, this is by far the most important because it sets the foundation for the rest of your skating career.
You need proper body posture not just to keep your ankles straight but also to be able to perform any rollerblading tricks. Mastering this position will get you on your way to pro status.
The correct posture involves staying low with knees bent and over your toes. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be over your hips and hands by your side.
Try practicing this first without your skates to get the feeling of it, then slowly transition into skates. Again, it might feel weird at first, but it will eventually be locked into muscle memory, so you won’t ever have to really think about it again.
Practice the scooting exercise
If you need some extra practice to reinforce straight ankles, you can try the scooting exercise.
When you’re on a scooter, one foot is on the scooter itself while the other is on the ground pushing you along.
The idea with this exercise is that we will be using the same technique in rollerblading. Instead of a scooter, you have one supporting leg and the other just doing the pushing. Make sure to be aware of your ankle’s position on the supporting leg.
If it’s leaning inwards, push it back out as you’re doing this exercise. Practicing the scooting exercise will make you more aware of your position as you’re skating and help you find your balance.
Practice the push and pose exercise
This exercise is like the scooting exercise, but you’re making longer pushes and staying in a type of “lunge” position for a little longer and switching feet after each push.
As you’re rolling, remember to push your ankles outward. Your knees should be bent on the supporting leg. After a while, you’ll find that you’ll build muscle memory that will hopefully solve your inward curving problem.
Loosen the ankle support strap
This might sound counterintuitive, but hear us out.
By loosening the ankle support strap on your skates, you are forced to just balance with your ankles and the soles of your feet. As a result, you will have to get into a better stance yourself rather than relying on your skates’ built-in ankle support to keep them straight.
If you do this, you should skate slowly initially and don’t skate like this for too long. After skating without the support for a while, put the strap back in its place.
With continued practice, you’ll find that your ankles and balance will be very solid, and you won’t feel the need to curve your ankles inward ever again.
Strengthen your ankles
You cannot rely on the built-in ankle support alone to hold you up forever. Doing this will result in weak ankles, resulting in unstable skating or even an ankle injury. In the next section, we’ll go over some ankle exercises you can do to ensure that you get strong ankles for rollerblading.
How to strengthen ankles for rollerblading
Most of us don’t realize how weak our ankles are until we start rollerblading or skating.
Walking only requires that we put pressure on our knees, while skating puts more of an emphasis on the ankles. Because the ankles are the focal point of skating, having weak ankles can cause several problems, as we’ve discussed previously.
If you are a beginner, you should understand that the muscles you use while walking or running are used a lot differently in skating. Even if you’re proficient in walking or running, it doesn’t necessarily apply to skating.
While it might seem intimidating to have to start from scratch, it won’t take too long to get you rolling along. You can try the following to increase your ankle strength:
Skating more will naturally strengthen your ankles. Just as you practice any other sport, continuing to practice your skating will help you transition into this new form of movement.
It takes time for your body to adjust to the different dynamics of skating.
Ankle strengthening exercises
Besides actually skating, you can increase your ankle strength doing exercises in the morning and before/after skating. There are several exercises out there as simple as standing on one foot to tracing out the alphabet with your feet. Below are some examples you can try out now.
1. Standing on one foot
It might seem silly, but you can try to stand on one foot as you’re doing everyday tasks, such as brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. It’s a simple yet highly effective exercise to get you started.
2. The alphabet exercise
Practice your alphabet knowledge by tracing out the letters with your toes!
This exercise aims to strengthen the ankles by working the muscles and tendon ligaments around your feet and ankles.
First, find a comfortable spot on the floor, couch, or bed to sit on with your legs stretched forward. Start with the uppercase letters and try your best to move your ankle to write the letters out. Then, transition to lowercase letters.
Repeat this exercise as much as you need to.
3. Pistol squats
These are just like your normal squats but are more like a one-legged squat. Pistol squats force you to push your butt and thighs down to your heels.
Start off with an uneven squat by placing one foot on a raised surface while the other is resting on a lower surface. Then, do your squats like normal.
Another exercise is the seated pistol, which requires you to sit on a bench with one leg raised in the air and using the other leg to stand up and sit back down. Alternate both legs when you get up from the bench.
Keeping your ankles straight and having proper body posture are essential for a great rollerblading experience. These skills set the foundation for the rest of your skating journey. However, these are not the easiest habits to obtain in the beginning.
Because rollerblading is relatively new in human history, it’s not expected for your body to adjust to it right away. You are going to have to go through the initial aches and pains before you can get rolling.
Some techniques that can help you straighten out your ankles are skating regularly, fixing your posture, and strengthening your ankles with exercises. Once you put this initial work in, you will never really think about your ankles again, and rollerblading will feel as natural as walking.