5 WAYS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ROLLER SKATING BENEFITS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
Updated: May 23, 2019
If you have relapse-remitting forms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), you know that fatigue, balance and muscle spasticity is a real struggle! Those are the common symptoms in people with MS and the ones that make or break the amount of physical activity we receive. Well, after I was diagnosed in April 2017, I thought my physical activity days were limited, if not over and I was never going to cheer, tumble, dance or work out again, let alone pick up roller skating in my past time! As I mentioned in a previous post, roller skating had presented itself to me again since childhood and it sparked a match and lit a fire inside me that I knew I had to confront. No balance and all! Since I've started skating and documenting on my skate skate blog, I have discovered some interesting and beneficial ways that skating can improve symptoms of MS and consciously improve overall skill! Let's get into it.
Stretching is all-around a good thing to do for everyone! For those who are affected by Multiple Sclerosis, your muscles tend to get stiff and "spazz out" causing pain and tightness. Stretching can be especially beneficial because it eases the discomfort caused by spasms, it prepares your muscles before and after a physical activity, and aids in the flexibility and range of motion to reduce the chance of an injury. For skating, it is important to stretch the calves, hamstrings and hip flexors for an easier and better performance. If you're roller skating in Dallas, or any place that doesn't have many flat areas to skate, stretching is a major key to a successful and pain-free skate! Going up and down hills really takes a toll on your ankles and shins, and trust me, you don't want to get shin splints because you were too lazy to stretch!
2. BALANCE PRACTICE!
If you're like me, your balance is trash! Surprisingly my balance is decent when I'm wearing my skates. And how did I manage to get this down? Just wearing my skates! That's literally it. I put my skates on in the house where there's carpet and casually go about my day. Wearing your skates forces you to be mindful of your feet and ankles and puts a focus on your mind to keep your body upright. If you pay close attention, you can feel your ankle muscles flexing and relaxing as they try to stay steady and keep you balanced. If your balance is relatively decent and you're up for a challenge, try squatting and standing! Another easy thing to do for practicing balance is to roll forwards for a while (no tricks) and maintain a mindfulness of where your center is on your skates and what feels most comfortable. If your balance is quite awful, have no worries. Definitely hold on to a chair or the wall while you get comfortable. It's about strengthening the muscles in your legs and core, of which I will go into in a sec. I've practiced most of my balance technique in my Candi Girl skates because the ankle of the boot has so much padding and support, unlike my Moxi skates, which I now use for flow and looking cute! HAHA.
3. CORE TRAINING.
It took me a while to figure this one out. BUT! Roller skating humbly asks you to engage your core. (I say "humbly" because if you skate without engaging your core, you're in for a sore back and a hard time.) The core is your powerhouse, the foundation of your stomach, back and pelvic muscles where your balance and stability lies. Engaging your core during a skate will not only improve your balance and stability but also help to avoid stress and injury to the spine, where most MS complications stem from.
Roller skating, like walking and jogging, is a good source of cardio and an awesome way to exercise while having fun. Skating can provide a workout by just trying to maintain balance, because let's be honest, maintaining balance when you have none is a full-time job! Going out and skating the neighborhood, a trail, a park even, are all safe locations to skate, do your own thing and get your heart beating and your blood pumping. If it makes it easier, bring a friend along for support while you get your skate on. After all, everything is better with friends! Just make sure to wear your safety gear (helmet, pads, etc.) while you practice so you don't get hurt. (Unlike me lol)
One thing I found to be most useful from roller skating is the strength training! As I mentioned before, wearing your skates can help to strengthen your calves and hamstrings as well as your core and pelvic muscles. Strengthening the muscles helps to combat the fatigue and muscle weakness we all know too well. When these muscles become stronger, you will be able to execute skate moves much more easily and have the strength to continue to push yourself over and over again.
Starting a new hobby that goes against your limited abilities can be tough, I get it. But trying something new that challenges you doesn't have to be scary! (Just like starting this skate blog!) These are all things that encouraged me to continue to skate and become a better skater as well as keep the symptoms of this illness at bay. I hope this post inspires you guys to continue to skate, or learn to skate because it benefits your body, sick or healthy!