Skating with an old body is challenging. I find that I have to practice tricks much more often to perfect them than I did when I was younger. I've also realized that there are some tricks I simply cannot do anymore. I'm not talking 20-stair sets or other feats of extreme height or distance. I'm talking some tricks my body just hits a wall on and won't go any further. I've realized that kickflips, which I could do as recently as last year, are something that has become excessively difficult. When I make an effort to get kickflips back on lock, all my other tricks start to fall apart one by one. I'm not sure why it is. Is it mental? Why aren't I getting a predictable
flip? Is it the sum effect of a left knee injury, coccyx injury, and toe injury? Maybe yes to everything. I'm not sweating it much anymore, because I now seem to be able to land heelflips, something I could never quite master when I was young. Strange. But mostly, it is just the body getting old and changing. In this post, I will share some of the things I do to cope with an aging body.
First and foremost, I use insoles or inserts in my skate shoes. I was using the Sole heat-moldable footbeds, but my footwear preference has changed and my toes feel too cramped with a full footbed. I recently bought a set of Superfeet 3/4 inserts. These inserts have made my recent skate sessions utterly enjoyable and comfortable. They make any vulcanized shoe feel as comfortable and supportive as a cup sole while still maintaining the good boardfeel and responsive flicks of the vulcanized outsole. I highly recommend them. My love affair with thin shoes like the Vans Old Skool has been rekindled thanks to the ability to get good arch support and good heel protection.
Another thing I've learned with an old body is the importance of stretching. I stretch for 30 minutes at night before I go to bed. I do yoga stretches because they seem to work the best. I stretch my back muscles the most, because that's where the brunt of the pain would be. With yoga stretching and breathing every night, my body stays limber and supple and my skating stays fluid.
An old body also requires different techniques. My muscles remember all the tricks I could do as a teenager, even if I can't actually do them anymore because of injuries or mental blocks or whatever holds my body back. So, I want to stress the importance of learning as many tricks as you can before you turn 30 years old. After that, it gets increasingly difficult to learn tricks. But not impossible! You just have to put a lot more thought and practice into learning tricks. I like to listen to my body and watch my skating to see where things are headed, that way the new tricks I learn are building upon or slight variations of tricks I already know. One good thing about getting older, I've found, is that switch stance is a lot easier. I can't explain it, it just is. My mind is more flexible and attentive, and that makes switching stance a lot easier.
More to come!