Can your body still handle a hard fall without injury?
My main worry for women over 50 is bone density, because it's not really a matter of if you fall, but when you fall. If you do have brittle bones or have not been exercising regularly for a few years, the impact of a fall is more likely to lead to injury.
Many of my summertime students are in their mid to late sixties and some do astonishingly well. I think it's because of the active California lifestyle but also because they've had a lifetime to develop the cumulative balance that is such an asset to the beginning skater. Occasionally, though, being rigid with fear has prevented some of my students from ever relaxing enough to enjoy the stride and glide, even on a flat surface.
Besides always wearing a helmet along with knee, elbow and wrist guards, you will have more chance for success if:
- You have past balance experience. Ice or roller skating translate wonderfully to inline skating (many other activities help too, and it doesn't matter how long ago or how well you did them).
- You are steady on your feet and have decent balance standing on just one foot.
- You can get up off the floor by yourself without help from furniture or another person.
Inline skating is a really great low-impact exercise for our aging joints. But do try and find a lesson for your first time out. To find a qualified instructor in your area, go to the Inline Instructor search page and enter your state abbreviation. Another option is Camp Rollerblade, which specializes in 5-day learn-to-skate instruction for mature adults--I loved the five years I spent teaching skate camps!
I am morbidly obese. As a child, I loved to skate. In efforts to reduce my weight and live a healthier lifestyle, I decided to take up skating again. My calves are enormous and at 5'0", I weigh 225. Are there any skates that you can recommend?
First, to determine if skating is a realistic goal, kneel on a carpeted floor far enough from any furniture that you must arise without any support. If you can accomplish this key test, and can imagine doing it with wheels on your feet, you may consider skating as a fitness activity, although your extra weight means you will struggle more than other beginners. But please get the OK from your doctor first!
You need skates sturdy enough to support your weight securely. If your calves are too large to close the buckles on a standard pair of inlines, consider purchasing a pair of Quadline skates, which have a lower cuff. Four inline-style wheels set in a square (as opposed to standard roller skate wheels) deliver the same smooth and stable ride as inlines. Here is an excellent video introducing Quadlines with some good close-ups of the rear brake and frame. There are many Quadline models to choose from, including a strap-on model.
I admire your interest in your child's physical development! While I know of parents who successfully got a child into skating as young as four years old, the parents themselves were avid and competent skaters, able to deliver constant coaching when the time was right.
I do not teach children below the age of 7 because before that age, they lack the coordination and attention span to learn much from me and my adult-oriented teaching style. (I have never had kids of my own.) Other instructors I know do teach youngsters quite successfully, however.
Motivated kids who don't take lessons at all still develop good skills by skating with friends their age or by chasing after a tennis ball with a hockey stick. The stick adds a third point of balance, sort of like training wheels on a bike.
Here are some tips to help you get your child started:
- For any kind of outdoor skating, it's very important to get your child outfitted properly with a full set of safety gear: helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads. They are not wise enough to fear the speed of out-of-control downhills. See my photos of how to put the wrist guards on correctly.
- For very young kids, here is a popular Fisher Price model to get them started for the first couple of years. When the time comes to try real inline skates, here's a selection of adjustable-size kids' skates. I use and recommend Rollerblade brand to all my students.
- To prepare your child for future skating, I suggest you find ways to stimulate his or her balance and coordination with game-like activities. Standing Yoga balance poses are good for this. You can also buy a balance toy/aid such as a wobble board (see www.fitter1.com).
- Request a free copy of my "classic" first edition of Get Rolling. Send $2 and your snail mail address and child's name to Get Rolling PO Box 1115 Danville, CA 94526 and I will send a free autographed book ($2 covers my shipping cost). The lessons will help you teach your child proper techniques and the line drawings turn it into a pretty good coloring book.
If you're big, you want good, sturdy ankle support in the cuffs to handle your weight. Fortunately, the manufacturers I like best all make large-size skates. Because there was no 2000 retailer catalog, I can only quote from the 1999 buyer's guide, but their sizing trends are likely to continue. Salomon (http://www.salomonsports.fr/us/inlineskating) goes up to size 15.5, although they are no lonter sold in the USA. Roces made several models in 1999 up to sizes 15 - 16. You can depend on Roces for good quality skates. There was only one size 15 Rollerblade model in '99, the e2 (www.rollerblade.com). I've had two pairs of Rollerblades and still find my old the TRS Lightenings extremely comfortable, even though it's a plastic boot skate.
I got my skates about 5 years ago and I still can't brake!!! And I am athletic and strong. I am so frustrated with myself for never being able to get this!
If only I could help you out face to face! It took me 9 months to finally learn how to stop with the heel brake. Looking back to 1993, I believe it's because 1) I had nobody to show me the correct technique, 2) my balance just wasn't ready yet, and 3) I gave up trying.
But let's see if I can give you a liberating e-lesson! First, I keep all my best stopping advice in an Orbit article called Learn to Stop, Now! If you have Quicktime, carefully watch my body in the video on that page.
I recommend that you print out the article and take it with you to a safe, flat practice area. First, learn to coast in the ready position (described in the article) so you can roll at least 10-15 feet in an upright crouch, chest pointing forward and lower back loose. Then learn the scissors coast (requires balancing with most of your weight on the non braking, back support skate). Take your time because this narrow stance always feels awkward at first. Try to get your feet close together but scissorsed so the brake is next to the toe of the other skate. THEN try to learn how to pick up your toe and lightly engage the brake, and straighten you braking knee to push the pad a couple of inches ahead of the toe of the support skate.
The most important concepts for braking are:
- Get your hips low (bend the left knee a lot) so that most of your body weight (center of gravity) is BEHIND the brake so it can compound the friction on the pad. If your weight is ABOVE the brake pad, you'll feel yourself toppling forward when your feet stop but your body doesn't.
- Try to put your body in a "horizontal," stretched out position with the brake in your line of travel, and your hips centered directly behind it. The narrower your stance (feet should be no more than 6" apart at the start) the less likely you'll spin out. Make sure both toes are parallel and pointing forward, not angled out.
- Don't try learning to stop from too slow a coast--it'll only make you fall down. You need a bit of speed so that your balance is better. Remember that bicyclists can't stay up unless they're moving.
By the way, that screech is a good noise! Some rubber types are louder than others and screech more. See if you can make that brake pad scream AND smoke!
Two stance tips from skate camp
If you tend to bend forward or stick your behind out when you try to brake:
Get vertical! Imagine your helmet is the flat head of a nail and that the rearmost heel wheel of your support skate (usually the left) is the nail's point, making a straight line through your center of gravity. When you stop correctly it is as though a big hammer has hit your helmet and forced your weight down onto your left heel, driving the nail straight and true. By forcing your left knee to flex more, this movement "squirts" your brake pad forward with more pressure, not you leaning forward over it with your chest.
Try learning to brake with your hands on your hips behind you, fingers pointing down. To keep your torso vertical when stopping, push your hips forward with your hands and at the same time sink down over the support heel.
Shift your gaze from your feet to a point on the pavement at least 10-15 feet ahead.
It is crucial to know the answer to this question before your first time on skates, because it has a lot of impact on your confidence and ability to quickly learn how to use the brake for stopping and speed control. In general, the brake goes on the right skate for right-handed skaters and on the left skate for lefties. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though. Sometimes circumstances such a slow-healing injury or simply being different from the norm will cause folks to consistently favor the "goofy" side. Basically, you want the heel brake installed on the foot you would naturally use to kick a ball or begin ascending a flight of stairs.
Try this balance test: Stand barefoot with good posture on a firm surface. Shift your weight to one foot and push the other ahead so just the toe is touching. Close your eyes and raise the forward foot. Count the seconds you can hold the foot off the floor. Do the same thing to count the seconds on the other side. If you are more successful with your right foot raised, the heel brake belongs on that skate. But if the left foot is easier to keep off the floor for a long time, consider putting the brake on that skate, even if you are right handed.
When I teach braking, we assume a narrow scissors stance (brake foot about one skate's length ahead of the back foot). Coasting this way makes it very clear which foot is the better support (back) foot and which is your dominant, action foot, which should be the one with the brake.
For more information, see Lefties, it Does Matter, and the pictorial tutorial on my blog showing how to swap most heel brakes from the right to the left skate.
This is a very common complaint for my beginning students. Your arches may tingle or even cramp if your feet are tensed up inside the boot, or if the boot is laced/buckled too tight, or if you haven't skated for a few months and those muscles have gotten out of shape. Foot muscles need to get used to this new activity.
Also, as a beginner, your knees may be too straight (very common) and that results in a tendency to bend forward at the waist, which forces your lower legs to work harder to support that weight. Get your upper body upright and drop your hips towards your heels to keep your weight lined up over your arches. Crouch, don't lean. This helps you bend at the hips, ankles and knees instead of your waist.
Try to tuck your tailbone forward rather than arching your back and sticking your rear out. Tenseness and keeping your upper body weight too far forward also affects your calves. The muscles on the fronts of your shins are unaccustomed to this new activity. Bending forward at the waist tips a lot of weight over your toes, and the fronts of your shins must work along with them to support you. Other calf muscles may get a bit sore at first, too.
My last bit of advice is take a deep breath and PRETEND like you're relaxed. Imagine good skaters you've seen, and BE them in your mind as you skate. This does help for short moments, really! The more time you can skate with a relaxed body, the less your feet and legs will burn so you can build up the muscles and the confidence to help you maintain the proper ready position.
Miller Sports makes a heel brake that may be used on Miller frames and also fits most Mogema, Force, Ultimate and Boen frames that use a single axle system. See a photo and details in the hardware section of the Miller Sports web site at www.miller-sports.com. The assembly plus a brake sells for $50, with replacement brake pads available for $16. The brake adaptor attaches to the rear two axle holes using specially threaded axle replacement inserts. It can accommodate an almost infinite variety of axle hole spacings, as long as they are between 78mm and 100mm apart.
Cuff-activated brakes are currently not available on new skates. Rollerblade was the only manufacturer and they felt there was not enough interest to justify continuing with it. Even though their ABT brake won the 1994 product of the year award, they don't believe skaters need them as much as skaters do.
The DXS disc brake mentioned on my home page is still not in production but may come out in Spring of 2012.
The cuff-activated brake is still a "scraper" technology, but because it's at the bottom of an arm that is mounted on the boot's hinged cuff, when the cuff tips back (because the braking foot slides forward), it pushes the arm and brake downward. As with the standard brake, you still have to have well-bent knees, and start with more weight over the left hip/heel, with legs and feet close together. To engage a cuff activated brake, you slide the brake foot forward, toe ahead of the knee. Otherwise, the calf will remain perpendicular to the ground, the cuff will stay upright, and the brake won't engage.
In my experience, beginners using the cuff-activated technologies learn to stop much sooner and easier because they can remain balanced over all 8 wheels while engaging it, rather than putting most of their weight on one leg while lifting the toe of the other skate. I also like it because when I'm doing ski cross training, I can control my speed mid slalom by engaging the brake lightly without lifting my toe.
A skating aid is now available for people who want a little extra safety on the trail: the Skaters Coach.
Where can I order padded shorts?
Go down to your local sporting goods store and buy a pair of padded hockey shorts to wear under a pair of baggy shorts. If you want something more formal, do a Google search on the phrase crash pads.
Do you have suggestions on preventing falling?
Yes, but there's no guarantee you'll never fall when skating. Unfortunately, we can't plan on successfully dealing with ALL the surprises out in the world. I always guide my first-time skate students gently to their first fall before we do anything else, by having them reach forward toward the ground from a toe-touch position. It's a comfort for many to discover how soft good pads feel when you land on all fours. (And I said "good" pads--don't go cheap here!)
For beginners, the most common fall is a backwards hip or tailbone bruiser. There are two reasons for this: they are skating with the knees too straight or they have allowed their hands to get behind them. The big goal when you begin to feel unbalanced is to try to get your hands in front of you and reach toward the pavement so you do land on the pads, rather than on your unprotected backside. Keep those hands somewhere in your peripheral vision at all times so they won't get you into mischief. To get into the proper bent-knee skating position, your head and shoulders should be upright, not leaning forward, but your hips, knees and ankles should be flexed into a crouch. Glancing down, you should see knee pads, not toes. I hope this advice keeps you on your feet!
I truly want to learn how to in line skate. I tried it once two weeks ago and fell, hurting my head. I am a nurse, and I should have known better, since I wasn't wearing a helmet. I have tried to find videos or books on the subject of "HOW TO" to no avail. Do you know of any videos that are available so that I could purchase one?
I'm sorry you had a bad fall, but glad you didn't crack your head! Do you have access to the Internet? If so, visit my website at www.getrolling.com where you'll find ordering information for Get Rolling, which I humbly believe to be the best beginner's book on the market. For more help in learning to skate, call the IISA (International Inline Skating Assn.) at 800-567-5283 and request their free booklet, "Gear Up! Guide to Inline Skating" which describes the sport, safety, and a variety of programs. To find an instructor who lives near you, go to the IISA Inline Instructor search page. Rollerblade has a video called "Skate Great; 8 Easy Steps to Better Inline Skating" with some pretty good footage about the basics. Unfortunately, for many skills that take at least 15 minutes for me to teach, the announcer suggests "just [do this]" as the skater demonstrates a perfectly executed move, implying first-attempt success. Call the consumer hotline at 800-232-ROLL (7655) to order a copy.
I am a 58 year old retired woman and I'd like to learn in-line skating. Currently, I have confidence doing it in my garage, I am no longer scared. However, as soon as I get to my driveway, I become tense and so scared that I start falling. I'd like to be out in the street like other skaters. Do you have any suggestions to help me? Is there a good skate I can use to avoid falling and one with a good brake?
My heart is full of hope for you! It's a good sign that you are building enough confidence to relax as you roll around in your garage. It's important that you learn to trust the skates for stability.
In my experience almost every driveway is sloped! Your next place to skate should be 1) an indoor skating rink if available, 2) a park with wide, grass-bordered concrete sidewalks or 3) a VERY empty, very clean parking lot (which will probably have a slight slope for drainage. Once you find this ideal spot, be sure and go back to that place several times in a row, to build up your confidence.
My best advice for you is to get a copy of Get Rolling. It's full of very encouraging words and tips for a safe start. I wrote this book for people like you, because I know we're not all young and we're not all naturals, but we DO want to have fun and get fit in a non-impact way!
As for skates, if you are ready to purchase the best one for beginning skaters, look for Rollerblade brand skates that are equipped with the ABT brake (Active Brake Technology). This skate allows you to engage the brake without requiring you to have good one-foot balance first, because you get to keep all wheels on the ground. One more confidence builder: get a pair of padded shorts.
Where can I find a good inline skating instructor in my area?
Use the IISA Inline Instructor search page. The International Inline Skating Association has an Instructor Certification Program (ICP) branch that certified me and many others. Simply enter your state and press Enter to get a listing.
As a former ice dancer I am interested in doing off ice inline skating that allows me some if the agility I get on ice. Can you recommend some of the new off-ice in-line skates as well as any resources that you know of?
One option is the PIC skate made by Harmony Sports. The boots look exactly like ice figure skating boots and they feature a rolling toe stop that functions the same way the toe pick on ice skates does. I've seen these used successfully (and even gleefully!) by pro ice skaters on pavement. Call 800 882-3448 for more information. Harmony Sports (PO box 219) is located in Malden MA 02148. The Governing body for competitions is USA Roller Sports.
To learn how to transition your ice figures to the pavement, I recommend you get a copy of How to Jump and Spin on In-Line Skates by Jo Ann Schneider Farris and Larisa Gendernalik. It's the only book of its kind. Jo Ann started out on PIC skates but now uses and sells her own Jump-Spin Skates.
I'm just learning and am looking for information about the number of calories you burn and which muscles you work when skating.
I've noticed that beginning skaters burn lots of calories and gain an elevated heart rate because they're not efficient yet (or sometimes, fear elevates the amount of energy spent!). As they get more coordinated and comfortable with the heelbrake, they have to skate faster and/or harder to burn more calories (or do sprints or skate uphill). Fast inline skating is a better workout than cycling, but not as good as running due to the coasting factor (you can't coast when running). According to studies done by Rollerblade in 1991, during a 30-minute period, a skater going 8-10 miles per hour expends 285 calories at an average heart rate of about 148. Put differently, a 120-lb skater going 10 mph burns about 14 calories per minute. The following Question and Answer has more information on this topic.
Can you tell me how many mph I am going if I am skating a mile in 6 minutes? Would that be roughly a 10mph rate? I'm trying to figure out how many calories I would be burning. Thank you for your help.
In order to calculate your average speed, use this formula found in Suzanne Nottingham's book Fitness InLine Skating:
60 divided by total skating minutes times distance in miles = mph
Therefore, 60 divided by 6 minutes (10) multiplied by 1 mile = 10mph. Rollerblade's web site has a calorie burning chart that shows calories burned per minute by speed (mph) for different body weights.
How can I get a good workout if the only safe place for me to skate is on a 1/2 mile track?
You can get a good workout on your inlines, no matter how cramped you are for space. First, make sure you are confident in using the heel brake so it doesn't unnerve you to go fast. If you need help, see Learn to Stop, Now! Then, if your 1/2 mile track is a loop, start bending deeply at the knees like a speed skater and make long, powerful strokes straight out to the side while swinging your arms as front-to-back (not side-to-side) as possible. (See my article "Ramp up to Roll-aerobics.") If you can't work up a training heart rate that way, learn to do the swizzle (where your skates draw an hourglass, in and out), which is the staple of inline fitness videos. You can also work up a sweat with half an hour's work attempting to perfect new skills: crossovers, backward skating, hopping, one footed slaloms, etc. (detailed in "Get Rolling, the Beginner's Guide to Inline Skating"). For some good fitness resources, visit the Fitness section of the Get Rolling bookstore, where you'll find Carolyn Bradley's "Skate Fit" video and Suzanne Nottingham's book, "Fitness Inline Skating." I have and love both of these. I also got a pretty good glow last week trying to learn the steps on Richard Humphry's video "Rollerdancing: A Workout on Skates," available from Movement in Motion (415) 469 0909.
I skate almost 5 days a week (weather permitting) - usually for 1 1/2 hours and I cover about 13-15 miles. How can I calculate how many calories I am burning?
Here's a calorie burning chart, courtesy of Rollerblade.
To calculate your average speed, use this formula:
60 divided by total skating minutes times mileage = mph
For example, if you skated one mile in six minutes: 60/6 minutes x 1 mile =10mph
I would like to be an inline skate instructor. How does one go about getting certification? Will insurance eat me alive?
For information about what's expected of you and the dates and locations of this year's certification sites, contact the International Inline Skating Association's Instructor Certification Program at 216-371-2977 or visit the ICP page at www.iisa.org/icp. You'll get a Level 1 certification first, over a 3-day weekend where both your basic skills and teaching methods will be examined on a pass fail basis. You must be proficient at and able to teach stroking and gliding, turns, stopping with a heelbrake and the T-stop, among others. You'll also have to demonstrate (but not get certified to teach) backward skating, lunge turns, slaloms and crossovers. There is a separate Level 2 certification for teaching those skills. The annual liability insurance and ICP membership dues are $125.00 per year. When I went for my Level 1 and 2 certifications, I believe the workshops cost a couple hundred dollars plus the first year's insurance.
My husband (child) has so many excuses for not wearing a helmet. How can I change his mind?
During my skate lessons, besides talking about the obvious safety benefits and telling my worst "brush with death" story if needed, I make the following points to skaters of all ages.
There is only one bone in your body that you can never bruise or crack without serious, life-threatening problems, and that's your head. (If I'm teaching kids, I first ask if they ever signed somebody's cast or broke a bone of their own.)
Sometimes I drop loudly down to my knee pads from a standstill. Then I ask people how they think my unhelmeted head would have survived a simple zero-speed drop like that.
Wearing a helmet acts as a visual signal to motorists that the wearer is moving faster than pedestrian speed. I mention the dreaded cell-phone users in cars (I have met the enemy and it is I!) who are driving on "auto pilot" behind the wheel. To them, a bareheaded person within peripheral vision to the right of their car window is just another pedestrian moving at pedestrian speed. If car and skater meet at an intersection and the car turns right, guess who loses.
There is no parent-child double standard for wearing helmets. In fact, adult heads are more brittle, land from greater heights and hit the pavement with much more impact than those soft, young skulls. Besides, parents have the added responsibility of staying alive long enough to give their kids the best shot at a good life.
I am allergic to latex, and have gotten to the point where I am reacting to my safety equipment even through clothing. I don't want to give up skating! Can you think of any solutions?
A nursing friend suggested you could order a box of extra large non-latex surgical gloves and use them to either wrap the gear or your elbows and knees before putting it on. Do you think that might work?
Follow up (success!):
I doubted that tape would hold if I sliced the gloves and wrapped them around my tube-style guards, plus I can react to some adhesives. I was also concerned that the velcro would tear the glove material. So I ended up snipping off the fingers and thumb of both extra large and large gloves and then slipped first the extra-large and then the large tubes over my hands and up to my elbows. I had to use both per arm because one tube wasn't long enough on it's own. There are gloves that have extended cuffs, but I didn't have any on hand (or elbow as the case may be). By using both sizes, I was able to "downsize" with my arm. My elbow guard then goes over the top. This is working great except that I have the world's sweatiest elbows when I'm done skating. I'm not a bit uncomfortable while skating - probably because I'm having so much fun! The gloves aren't rubbing, so I'm not getting any blisters or anything.
There are some downsides to this, other than being incredibly sweaty and having people stare at me funny when I'm pulling big blue tubes up my arms. First, the gloves tear easily after having the fingers removed, so they have to be pulled on and off gently. Secondly, since I'm already using the extra-large for my elbows, you can guess that there aren't any gloves large enough for my knees. Gloves *do* come in XXL, but I didn't think they'd be big enough. I'm able to tolerate my knee pads over leggings, but I still react on occassion through the cloth. Hopefully most latex allergic people are not quite this sensitive, so they can still get away with this. If I figure out a way to make this idea work for my knees, or find another solution, I'll let you know. As for the glove idea for elbows, this should work for anyone who is my size or smaller -- I'm an average size woman (5'6", small to medium frame with fit arms). Anyone larger will be uncomfortable as the tubes will be too tight.
Thanks again for helping me out! It's really made a difference. :)
Why are my knees so stressed out learning parallel turns? I do a mean A style turn... now I can't even TRY parallel turns because they hurt my knees so much... any ideas?
At its purest, you should be able to do the parallel turn with no knee involvement whatsoever. It's simply a result of leaning and looking over your shoulder with the feet scissored properly. Try sneaking up on parallels with this progression: Do a few left-turning A frame turns with the left toe wheel lifted off the ground. Each time, try to narrow the width between the two skates a bit more, until you can make the turn pretty much on one foot (the right) with the left skate's heel wheel almost directly in front of the right toe wheel. Now see if you can put that left toe wheel down. This will be easier if you remain very upright over the right skate--THINK about leaning back, but not so far you risk falling backward. As you practice, don't forget to turn your head to the left. The harder you look left (e.g., looking over your left shoulder), the tighter the turn. The more upright you are, the more likely your whole body will tilt and make the turn happen, rather than forcing it with your hips, knees and feet.
My left foot is always on an angle. I blade on the inside, and then it gets sore after awhile. Do you have any suggestions about how to break this habit?
I'm not so sure it's a habit you need to or even can break. Here's what usually makes that happen:
- (Probably not your problem) You don't have the top buckle snug enough. Easy to tighten, but don't go so tight you get pain and bruises!
- Your boots are made from light weight plastic or other materials that don't give you enough support to properly hold your ankle straight. Or if really inexpensive, the wheel frame was mounted off-center on the sole of the boot. The only correction is new, better skates.
- You have always had a tendency to stand on the outside (or inside, depending on which way it tips) on that foot--check your street shoes and see where the most worn out side of your sole is. This can be corrected if it's not too bad by using shoe inserts from the drugstore, sports-oriented footbeds from a recreation store or orthotics from a podiatrist (in order of expensiveness).
- You have decent skates but you tip to one side anyway, due to the way the boot fits your foot. Fix with the same correction described in #3. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting an "odor eater" cheap foot bed and folding it lengthwise to slip under the edge of the existing foot bed to prop your foot higher and reduce the tilt.
- If it only happens after half an hour or more of skating, you are tiring your ankle muscles and they will always tilt more. Correction? Stop when the tilt gets bad but skate several times a week to build up ankle strength, balance and endurance for skating.
That's my best advice. I hope it helps!
I live in a town where the streets are rough so I can't ride smooth and fast because my wheels were designed to go on smooth surfaces (I usually play roller hockey). What kind of wheels should I get and where can I get good prices if I decide to buy new skates for outdoors?
Soft wheels are best on rough pavement because they vibrate less. That means you want wheels with a low durometer rating. On the wheel sidewall, that's the number that ends in "A." You want something less than 78 (the range is from 74 to 101). I'm happy with the selection and service at Weber Sports (www.webersports.com) or Skates.com (www.skates.com) for my skate parts mail orders.
I have an old, hand-me-down pair of skates (I'm a beginner). My problem is that the wheels are wearing down on the inside of the wheel on each skate. They are a pretty cheap pair so the wheels are probably cheap too. I was wondering if I am skating on them wrong by putting too much weight on one side?
No, you're skating like a normal recreational skater. The inside wheel edges always wear out first because that's the edge you push with. The best way to make them last as long as possible is to rotate them regularly. Almost all new skates come with a skate wrench (Allen wrench 5/32 size). If you didn't get one with your skates, you'll have to buy one. It fits into the holes on the bolts that hold the wheels in the frame (you may need two wrenches, depending on the skates). Either rotate the wheels yourself or go to a nearby skate specialty store--they might even do it for free.To rotate, take out the wheels and flip them over so when you reinstall them the worn side faces outside. If you notice that the toe wheels are wearing more than the back wheels, reinstall them at the back while you're at it. Also take an old T-shirt and wipe the sandy grit that collects around the bearings, so it won't slow you down. You can upgrade your skates by buying new, better wheels and bearings. There's also a plastic spacer inside the wheel between the bearings that can be upgraded to aluminum. Doing all of this could cost about $50, but it results in a skate that would have cost $100 more new.