How To Roll: Part 2 - Gear Up For Fun and Exercise!
Whether you're taking up rollerskating or skateboarding for fun, exercise or both, it's important to equip yourself with some essential safety gear. It's even more crucial for older skaters, whose joints, muscles and reflexes may be a little rusty.
You're going to need a helmet and pads, at the minimum.
Helmet: Look For ASTM or CPSC Certification
The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set minimum standards for helmet safety and durability. In order to be certified, helmets must survive certain drop, roll, and strap strength tests without breaking or significantly shifting position, and must cover most of the top and back of the skull. Helmets that meet the standards will be clearly labeled as such. Look for that certification label to ensure you're getting a helmet that's been tested and proven to protect the skull from shock, and the brain from concussion, in the course of typical use.
A helmet that meets one or both of these standards will have a hard plastic, shock-resistant outer shell with a thick, rigid foam filler like styrofoam. It will have a sturdy strap that's securely affixed to the helmet, and an under-chin buckle that won't open accidentally. It will also most likely come with some additional, soft foam strips for the buyer to apply to the inside of the helmet for a more custom fit.
When the helmet fits and is positioned properly on the head, it should not slide out of position easily. Test this by putting the helmet on, adjusting the strap as needed, and then pushing on the helmet from left to right, right to left, and front to back. It should stay put. If it doesn't, try adding additional padding strips to the inside of the helmet, adjusting the chin strap, and if the helmet has one, adjusting the interior headband.
It's worth investing a little extra in a quality helmet, because it's never a good idea to skimp when it comes to protecting your brain.
Pads: For Knees and Elbows
Bruises, sprains and even breaks can be prevented with pads. Quality pads are constructed of two parts: the first part attaches the pad to your body, and the second part is a hard plastic shield that's permanently attached to the first part. The shield absorbs shock and protects your joints from bangs and bruises.
Some pads have an elastic sleeve type of construction, others have a hook and loop or strap system for attachment. A pad that allows for adjustment to a custom fit is best, since it will be more comfortable and you'll be more likely to actually wear it. For that reason, elastic sleeve style pads are best avoided. A custom-adjusted pad also won't be as likely to slip down during use, and a pad that's slipped off your knee or elbow can't protect you.
Optional, But A Good Idea: Wrist Guards
Those who are new to skating or haven't skated in years are going to fall down from time to time when they're just starting out. Most often, they'll try to brace for the fall by putting their hands out in front of or behind them. If their hands are the first thing to hit the ground, their wrists will be absorbing most of the impact of the fall.
Don't risk a sprained or broken wrist: add wrist guards to your skater safety shopping list. As with knee and elbow pads, look for guards that are adjustable. The guards should include a hard plastic shield that covers the palm and extends across the wrist, making it impossible for your wrist to bend. A high quality guard will offer a plastic shield that's reinforced with a metal plate or bar that's bent to conform to the shape of the shield.
Optional, But A Good Idea: Gloves With Leather Palms
If you're not going to get wrist guards, at least consider picking up some gloves with a leather palm covering. The gloves won't do anything to protect your wrists but they will prevent painful palm scrapes, and the "road burn" that can happen if you fall on a rough surface like asphalt.
Optional, But A Good Idea For Skating Outdoors: Sunglasses
Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays, and will prevent any momentary blindness that can occur as you're moving around and happen to catch direct sunlight in the eyes.
Properly equipped, you're ready to roll!
- Outdoors Staff