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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Skating with an old body

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!


  1. Hey, Matt from SOLE here - Do you have any suggestions on how we could improve our footbeds to work better for skateboarding and/or more minimal shoes like vans?

  2. Matt, thanks for writing! I have put some thought into your request. I would like to share my thoughts with you here:

  3. Thanks I'll check it out, by the way, what model of footbeds were you using that we're too tight? I actually have the same problem with my vans and our footbeds.

  4. ~Curiously, I'm a 38 yr old skater and regular yoga practice is crucial for my skating. Just as you said it keeps the body limber and skating fluid. Yoga also has much improved my balance, flexibility, and mental focus, so in fact while i'm not a teen skater with 'pop', i'm a better skater now than i ever was thanks to yoga.
    I recommend it to all skaters.

  5. We're in the same boat. I'm mid 30s and skate several times a week after not skating for probably 15 years. It's hard enough to get real tricks back (though I often wonder if I used to think I was better than I ever really was), let alone keep them. If I ride ramps for a week, skating street is hard, and vice versa. All our bowls are iced over, so I'm looking at learning all over again in the Spring...

    I'm going to write a blog post myself listing out some of the stuff I do to stay in the game longer...

  6. 23 years old here, and your line "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. " is something that I've believed in for a long time. These days I feel pressured by myself to go and get consistent at as many tricks as possible before I turn 30.

  7. Any advice for an old lady who wants to learn to skate? I'm 39 years old and I want to skateboard so badly! I never really did much of it as a kid - broke my wrist while riding my sister's skateboard and that was that - but I've always been envious of those who could skate.

    1. Thanks for writing! I would say that the best advice is to listen to your body, but don't forget that we feel a lot more pain now that we're older, so it's really a matter of how much any particular pain differs from our normal aches and pains. Sharp pain is misleading, I've found. It's the dull aches that persist beyond a week that you have to watch.
      For equipment, softer wheels are awesome, like around 90-95A in durometer.
      Take things at a comfortable pace, learn movements and motions that feel right to you. Don't be afraid to experiment with equipment, remembering that it's about what you like. Bare minimum protection is helmet and suitable footwear. The G form protective padding are pretty nice and low bulk.
      Have fun! And keep us updated on your progress if you wish.