How to Rollerblade Downhill

Don't skimp on the safety gear -- especially when skating on hills.

Don't skimp on the safety gear -- especially when skating on hills.

While it's thrilling to roll down a hill on your inline skates, hills are not for the beginner skater. Once you let gravity take over, you're subject to every bump, rock or other obstruction in your path -- increasing your risk for taking a high-speed tumble.Unlike a bicycle, your skates do not have brakes that will stop you on a hill. Approach hills with caution once you've developed some strong basic skating skills, then position your body to ensure you stay stable and safe.

Wear all the safety gear you can. This should include a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and open-finger gloves. It's not just common sense, -- it's also one of the "Rules of the Road" set forth by the International Inline Skating Association. Additionally, you can wear crash shorts -- essentially padded shorts -- to help pad your falls and prevent a bruised backside.

Slow down at the top of the hill -- before you are on the downward slope -- by placing your brake foot in front of your other foot, and press down with the heel brake to adjust your speed.

Start rolling down the hill with your feet parallel but about shoulder-width apart. According to pro skater Kim Perkins, this stance gives you the most stability as you head downward.

Bend your knees slightly and place your weight on your heels. According to Perkins, keeping your weight on your heels is the most important step in skating downhill safely. When you're doing it right, your toes may even rise off the ground a bit, since you are placing almost no weight at all on them.

Place your hands on your knees. This lowers your center of gravity and makes you more stable. If you feel that you want a little more speed as you descend the hill, place your elbows on your knees and try to flatten your back to make you more aerodynamic.

Roll through the hill without making any sudden moves. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and forget braking as you head downward -- you likely won't be able to stop with your heel brake once you get going. By maintaining your safety stance, you should be able to weather almost anything as you head down the hill, but don't be surprised if you fall at least once during your training.

Items you will need

  • Inline skates
  • Helmet
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Open-finger gloves
  • Padded shorts, optional

Tip

  • Select a spot that has a patch of grass next to the sidewalk or road. That way, if you start to go out of control, you can head toward the grass and a much softer landing. In the best-case scenario, you'll be able to get onto the grass and run in your skates as you slow down, thereby avoiding a crash all together.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

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