Q: I’d love to try inline skating, but I’m afraid of falling. Is there any way I can get over this fear?
A: Absolutely. I know many people – including me – who were apprehensive about inline skating. Here are some ways to boost your confidence and decrease your risk of a fall:
Take a lesson. Learning the basics, such as how to stop, will greatly improve your confidence. Plus, you’ll learn tricks such as putting your hands on your knees to steady yourself when you become wobbly. Check with stores that sell inline skates to find out whether they offer lessons. Or try health clubs, Y’s or recreation centers in your area.
Improve your balance. Simple balance-training exercises can improve your stability. Do each exercise one or two times a day:
- Rock and roll. Stand next to a wall, facing sideways, your feet about hip-width apart. (Use the wall if you feel yourself losing your balance.) Without bending your knees, slowly shift your weight to your toes, leaning slightly forward as far as you can without tipping or letting your heels come off the floor. Then shift your weight back to your heels, tilting backward without lifting your toes. Then sway to the left and the right. For more of a challenge, bring your feet closer together to do the exercise. Then try it with your eyes closed.
- Have a ball. Do this exercise near a wall or piece of heavy furniture in case you need to catch your balance. Sit upright on a fully inflated exercise ball. (The ball should be big enough so your knees are in line with your hips.) Maintain your balance as you extend your legs out in front of you on the floor, and cross your ankles so that only one heel is on the ground. Then rest both hands on your hips. For a challenge, raise your arms overhead with palms together.Choose the right course. Don’t skate on busy streets or in areas where there are lots of hills. My favorite places to skate are parks that are not too crowded, are relatively flat and have grass on at least one side of the path. (When I get nervous or start going too fast, rolling onto the grass slows me down.) This way you can focus on what you’re doing instead of worrying about cars or speed demons weaving around you.
Dress appropriately. Wear protective gear such as wrist, elbow and knee pads and a helmet. If you do fall, you’ll be less likely to be injured.