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Skaters Guide to Hills

written by: Sylvie Colette • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 6/29/2011

Consider this Skaters Guide to Hills a crash course in how to avoid crashing.

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    Hills should be avoided by beginning skaters. Be sure to skate to your ability. Hills are not for the wobbly or faint of heart. Even minor hills can cause major injuries when the pull of gravity takes over and you suddenly find yourself going too fast to stop. Study this skater's guide to hills for good tips to use when you are faced with a hill.

    Protective gear, wrists, knee pads, elbow pads, and a snug fitting helmet should always be worn when skating. They will prove to be invaluable once you take your first major spill on a hill.

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    Hills do not have to be steep in order to be considered dangerous for skaters. In fact, hills that sneak up on you without warning are common causes of injuries.

    If you find yourself on a slope picking up speed first try to gently brake. Apply light pressure and simply try to slow yourself down to a manageable speed.

    The next option is to jump into the grass on the side of the trail, if there is any. In order to properly execute stopping on grass, start running on your skates. Skating into the grass at a high rate of speed will only cause you to fall hard and fast. The wheels will suddenly stop as they hit the grass and your body won't be ready.

    If you decide to stay the course, bend your knees and lean a little forward. Tuck your arms and hands in, in front of your body. This stance, also known as "derby stance" will stabilize your core and give you a better center of gravity. Standing straight, leaning back, and flailing your arms is only asking for trouble.

    Watch for debris. A stick or stone can break your bones when one causes an accident on a hill. Be ready to run off into the grass if you see a large piece coming up.


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    Avoiding Hills

    A good way to avoid hills is to scout out the trail that you are planning on taking ahead of time. Consider driving the route, ask others who have taken the trail, or try it out with your bike first.

    When you see a hill, go the other way, especially if it is way out of your comfort zone. Loop back around and get your workout on flat ground if you can.

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    Fitness Benefits

    Incorporating hill training into your skating workout routine will quickly increase your performance, calories burned, and overall confidence. If you are considering signing up for a marathon, knowing how to successfully navigate hills is very important. You will most likely be faced with several over the course of a marathon.

    Find a good hill with a long, flat ending. Starting from the bottom, skate up about a third of the way, or a portion that you feel comfortable with. Turn and skate back down. Do this several times, eventually skating to the top and back down. Your large muscles will be working hard on the way up, while your inner stabilizing core will be working just as hard on the way down.


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