World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
How Do I Prevent Foot Cramps?
Hi, Bill: After a year of inline skating, I still get cramps in my feet. The cramps are usually in my left foot and appear after about 15 laps of skating at the beginning of practice. I've been told that the cause of my cramps is that I push with my toes and not my heels. If this is the case, can you give me some tips on how to heal a toe-push? By the way, I don't get cramps with my quad speed skates. Thanks - Rick in Portland.
Hi, Rick: The first thing you should rule out is a boot problem. Do your boots fit properly?
As you know, most people have one foot bigger than the other. As a result, when they buy skates (or shoes, for that matter), one skate usually fits just right while the other one may be a little too big or small. (The only time this isn't a problem is when you buy custom-molded skates.)
A too-small skate puts excess pressure on your foot, which can cause cramps. As for skates that are too big, they don't hold your foot snug enough in position. As a result, your toes can push forward in your boots, which can also cause cramping.
As you've heard, toe-pushing is a common cause of foot cramps. Make no mistake about it, a proper push starts directly to the side of your body with all the wheels on the ground — and all the wheels pushing. From there, your foot continues straight out to the side until your leg is fully extended. Then all your wheels lift up off the ground together. (The raised heel of your skates makes it possible for you to keep your back wheels on the ground as long as your toe wheel.)
One of the main causes of toe-pushing is skating in an upright position; in other words, in a position that more resembles standing than squatting. Since you are relatively new to skating, I wouldn't be surprised if you had this problem. Many adult skaters do.
To fix this, train yourself to sit low when you skate. In this position, your butt should be down as though you are sitting in a chair.
I know this is easier said than done, especially for mature skaters. But keep working on it. The low skating position will help you develop a powerful "spring-loaded" push.
To get used to the low position, practice it in your shoes or bare feet. Once in the position, try springing up into the air.
Notice how much power you have when you spring up into the air from this position.
When you skate in the low position, you'll have that same power propelling you forward.
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