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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Fine-Tune Your Skates
How to fix common inline skating problems by adjusting your skate and frames

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By Miguel Jose

Properly aligning your frames beneath your skates (as outlined here) fixes a lot of common technical problems for skaters. But if it doesn't fix yours, try fine-tuning your setup with this troubleshooting guide.

Unlock your shins

When you lean back too far in your skates, your toes tend to rise up, causing your shins muscles to flex and eventually cramp. This is what usually causes shins to lock up.

One solution is to lean further forward, so that your toes are no longer rising off the bottom of your boots. But look out. Leaning forward can damange your technique, and lead to all kinds of problems, including toe-pushing!

Instead of leaning forward, try placing shims in the back of your skates. This will raise your heels and get your toes down, taking the strain off your shins.

Shimming your skates is easy. Just buy some plastic washers (about 1/8 of an inch thick) and position them between the back of your boots and frames.

Straighten those pronating ankles

Pronation can be caused by weak ankles or poor technique. But ill-fitting boots and misaligned frames can also cause your ankles to fold in.

If you've got this problem, try remolding your boots to give your ankles more support. Heat your boots using a heat gun (my preference) or an oven until they feel pliable. (You may want to do one at a time.) Then, without putting the skates on, tie the laces. Next, put on some gloves and apply pressure with your hands to both sides of the boot simultaneausly. As you do this, cup your hands around the ankle portion of the boots so you don't change its shape.

The goal is to make your skates fit more snuggly without distorting their shape.

After you've reshaped your boots, put them in the freezer. They'll be more likely to retain their new shape if you cool them quickly. And remember: when molding your boots remove the frames — or a least loosen the frame bolts.

If after you remold your boots, your ankles are still folding, re-evaluate your frame set up (see Part 1). Skaters often position their frames too far to the inside of their boots to try to prevent pronation. But this sometimes has the opposite effect: it can cause pronation. The moral here is don't move your frames too far from your pressure points. Be patient. Take a day to experiment with your setup. Try things you wouldn't normally do. You just might find some magic.

Fix faulty crossovers

Some indoor skaters have a hard time with crossover turns, although they usually do them better than outdoor skaters. When they cross their right foot over their left, they touch down with their heel, rather than landing with all wheels on the floor at the same time. This ruins their effeciency on the turns.

To fix this, try moving the back of the frame of your right skate away from the corner ... in other words, move it to the right. This will help you get more "on your toes."

Get your hip "in a corner" on turns

The problem here is the position of your left frame. Go back to Part 1 of this tip and make sure you've positioned your frame under your pressure points. That should fix the problem.

July 17, 2009

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Miguel JoseMiguel Jose started speed skating when he was six in Seattle, WA. "Back then we raced on quad skates," he says. "I was very mediocre on quads — dead last at JO Nationals. But in the 1991-92 season, inline skates were introduced and — wow! — did that change things. I went from being the worst kid on quads to being a national champion in one year." Miguel went on to win three national championships before hanging up his skates in 2004 to focus on his career as a mortgage broker. "I went about three years of not skating before I had to put my skates back on. Now I skate to get away from work, stay in shape, and enjoy my friends. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy competing at the pro level, but that is not what keeps me in the sport." Miguel is a member of the Luigino Racing team and the Pattison's West indoor club in Federal Way, WA.

Luigino Racing




Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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