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Ask Bill Begg!

Skating's top coach answers your questions

 
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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

Find out more about Bill Begg and his column.

July 18, 2007

Does Creatine Help Skaters?

QDear Coach: I have a question about the performance supplement creatine. I have heard runners and other endurance athletes say they get no benefit from it. But I wonder if it might be useful for inline skaters since they require both power and endurance. Do world class inline racers, including those who compete in marathons, use creatine? - Yours, Dan Kahan of New Haven, CT

Hi, Dan: In fact, some top skaters do use creatine. I watched last week at the European Championships in Holland as members of the Italian junior team used the supplement before the marathon. Two Italian officials were mixing what appeared to be two teaspoons of Creatp, an Italian brand of creatine made by Syform, into half-liter water bottles, which were then handed out to the skaters.

However, the the jury is still out on the usefulness of creatine for skaters. Some who have used large amounts of it during weight-training phases have blown up in size. Most top New Zealand skaters who use it, use it sparingly on race days. One thing we don't know is what kind of side effects, if any, will show up in the future.

Positioning Frames

QHi, Bill: I am an outdoor skater with a new pair of speed skates. Would you tell me the best way to position my frames? - Thanks, Joe

Hi, Joe: Many top skaters used to skate with their boots unlaced and loose when they were warming up to get a feel for how their frames (plates) were positioned. But these days, with frame position pretty well standardized, you don't see this much anymore.

If you are an outdoor skaters with no major foot problems, the frame should line up below the center of the Achilles tendon (back of heel) and under the back of the gap between the big and second toe. If you have trouble getting on your outside edges, you could move your frames to the inside. (Skaters with flat feet find this to be helpful.) But wedges are the preferred method for helping you get on your outside edges. Top road racers typically use wedges instead of moving their frames sideways. (See next question for more on wedges.)

Another consideration is the front and rear alignment of the frame — in other words, how much frame protrudes from the heel and toe of the boot. I favor a 50-50 position with the same amount of wheel showing at the front and back. If your setup doesn't allow this, position your frames so you have more wheel in the back.

A factor to consider when buying skates is how long your frame should be relative to your boot. I find that skaters do best with their technique if they have no more than three-quarters of a wheel (one half wheel plus the hub) protruding from heel and toe.

More About Wedges

QHi, Bill: I am not sure which side of the frame to insert wedges. I have been placing leather wedges on the outside of my frame, which has made it almost impossible for me to pronate and has forced me to stay on my outside edges. But this year, after trying to perfect my double push, I found that the knob on my inside right ankle became extremely swollen and tender. Could this be caused by the combination of double push and wedges? I have considered placing the wedges on the inside of the frame to relieve the pressure, but I am afraid that would cause me to pronate. - Jon from Ithaca, NY

Hi. Jon: Putting wedges (packers) on the inside of yours frames would almost certainly cause you to pronate. So don't do that. Your problem may be the result of using wedges that are too thick. My skaters use only a very fine grade of thin sandpaper to build their wedges. Your leather wedges could be too much.

Ankle problems, like yours, are common among World Cup skaters. They put lots of pressure on their ankles in their quest for deep edges. That makes them more prone to pressure points and ankle problems. The double push may make you faster, but you and your ankles pay the price due to the extra pressure.

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