Whether you used to have fun roller skating as a kid or went on a date to the local roller rink a few years later, your thighs were getting a killer workout as they propelled your body weight forward on wheels. Rollerblading, or in-line skating, delivers similar cardiovascular and leg-strengthening benefits as roller skating. Because your legs move side to side when you rollerblade, you can tone both your inner and outer thighs.
Because you’re moving your entire body weight through space, rollerblading is considered a weight-bearing sport along the lines of running and cycling. However, when you run or cycle, you use your thigh muscles in an up-and-down motion along your center of gravity. In contrast, in-line skating relies on your hip abductors and adductors to move your legs toward and away from the center of your torso, according to the article “Physiology of Inline Skating” on the Skatetime School Programs’ website. This lateral movement particularly works your inner and outer thighs in a way that running and cycling don’t.
Load and Impact
When you rollerblade and pick up speed, you have to lean forward to maintain balance. It’s a similar body position that a cyclist assumes but without a seat to support your body weight. Even when you’re gliding on the blades, your thighs and glutes contract to bear a constant load and keep your torso stable. And, rollerblading is low impact. Every time your foot strikes the ground on a run, it endures forces that are two to six times your body weight, according to “Precision Heart Training” by Ed Burke. Because rollerblading gives you a weight-bearing leg workout with less stress on your joints, runners use it for cross training.
When you run on a regular basis, you work the outer muscle of your quadriceps, or the vastus lateralis. The inner muscle of your quads, or the vastus medialis, is neglected, which can result in a muscular imbalance in the development of the fronts of your thighs. Rollerblading is particularly effective in conditioning the inside muscle of your quadriceps, according to “The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-Week RunWalk Program” by Ian MacNeill. If the strength of your inner and outer quads is balanced, they can provide greater stability for your knee joints.
When you rollerblade, wear protective equipment – helmet, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads. Falling, crashing or slamming into other skaters can cause numerous injuries. If you topple while on wheels, your elbows and knees are typically the first points of contact with the ground and are easily damaged. If you skate at night, wear reflective tape or bright clothing. Avoid streets with heavy traffic. Even if you strap neon-lit pillows to your body, you can’t prevent serious injury if you collide with a car.
- Fitness and Wellness, 10 Ed.; Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger
- Precision Heart Training; Ed Burke
- The Fat-Free Truth: Real Answers to the Fitness and Weight-Loss Questions…; Suzanne Schlosberg and Liz Neporent
- The Beginning Runner’s Handbook: The Proven 13-Week RunWalk Program; Ian MacNeill
- Skatetime School Programs: Physiology of Inline Skating
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.