If you’re like me, you love to skate. A two to three hour session at your local park is not uncommon and leaves you feeling amazing. People skate for all sorts of reasons, but it goes without saying that the health benefits you can get from skateboarding, like feeling amazing after a workout, and the challenge and rewards available keep us wanting more. The problem I face, and many other skaters face, is the pain and soreness after a session. This may be especially apparent the next day. Some skaters handle it differently than others. Some people seem immune to pain and can wake up every day and skate like crazy, no matter how beat up they were the day before. For the rest of us, here are some solid tips to get the most out of your skate sessions without feeling beat up the next day.
Skate more often: It may seem counterintuitive at first, but skateboarding is just like any physical activity. If you don’t do this for a while, it will be harder for your body to get used to the abuse. Some people live in a cold and rainy climate during the winter, so they stop skating for a few months until it warms up again. Then, when spring comes, your body isn’t used to all the beating and goes through a sore phase for a while before it can adapt again. If you skateboard more often, your body will stay adapted to abuse and won’t hurt as much after a session. This does not mean going out every day to jump a step 20 because you will improve in that. This kind of abuse can lead to serious injuries, but if you skate a little every day and work to progress through your learning curves while keeping a positive attitude, you’ll have a better time and enjoy it more.
Stretch before and after sessions: It’s easy to feel a few toe touches and butterflies right after you start skating hard and right after you stop skating. In fact, if you don’t make time to stretch, you’ll have to make time for injuries and pain later on. Professional skaters do it all the time. They have to compete, film and jump huge things all the time to earn money, so they learn from the best fitness trainers in the world. Those fitness trainers will first teach you that in order to avoid injury while exercising, you must learn to stretch. If you haven’t stretched much recently, that’s fine. Start now and take it easy. Stretch in the morning when you wake up, in the afternoon right after you warm up skating and right after your skating session, then stretch again before bed. This much stretching throughout the day will make your body looser and more flexible, and help blood and oxygen flow through your muscles and joints, repairing them faster. It’s also a great idea to stretch your upper body like your neck, back, and arms.
Do a warm-up: Just as warming up is important in skating to ensure you don’t fall over when you start skating, warming up is important to ensure your muscles have a moment to decompress. To warm up, do some brisk walking. I usually walk around the skate park after I’m done skating. This can be combined with filming your friends or taking pictures if you are a photographer. It will help blood flow to your joints for additional recovery.
Eat or drink lots of protein after a session – I’ve read a lot of blogs and forums about people looking for the best recovery methods, and this one is the same every time. You should eat or drink a lot of protein, 30-50 grams, immediately after a workout, along with coconut water or Gatorade. Your body needs protein to rebuild muscle, and the energy drink will replenish glycogen levels and raise insulin levels. Insulin can help restore muscle protein by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis. Since I’m vegan, I recommend a plant-based protein shake. You can find them at your local sprouts, whole foods, or online at Amazon.com. Granted, they’re not cheap, but if you really don’t want to feel so sore after a skating session, they’re worth a try. Also, eating or drinking potassium-rich substances after a workout will help replenish spent stores. Coconut water is high in potassium, which makes it a great post-workout drink. I buy mine at the local 99 cent store to save money. Make sure you get the one without added sugar. Your body also needs things like sodium and calcium to recharge muscle energy. Bananas and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of potassium, sodium, and calcium. Add them to your meals after your skating session and you’ll feel better in no time. Also, grapes and cherries contain antioxidants that help your body relieve joint pain. Another tip is to take fish oil or flax seed oil pills. Omega-3, 6, and 9 do wonders for lubricating joints.
Get better sleep: Sleep is essential for rebuilding muscles, joints, and tendons. If you stay up late partying or watching TV after skate sessions, you won’t get the benefits of sleep. To get the most out of your Zs, get at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night. If you’re like me and have trouble falling asleep, you can try taking an herbal supplement like melatonin or valerian root (I found a supplement called ‘relax and sleep’ at my local Dollar Tree). Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea will also help. Also, committing to a “tech blackout” after 9 pm every night will help you get to bed easier. Whatever it takes, get the sleep you need to recover and you’ll be able to skate every day to your fullest potential!
Reduce stress: Acute stress, like the kind you get from exercising, is good for you. Chronic stress, like when you don’t get enough sleep or when you have to turn in a paper at school, isn’t good for you. To fully recover from your skating sessions as quickly as possible, take time to do stress-relieving exercises such as short walks, hanging out with friends, and biking. These are all things known as active recovery, and they can go a long way in helping you mentally recover from a tough skate session. Socializing with good friends and laughing are the best ways to relieve stress.
Ice, then take a hot bath: Ice your ankles after a skating session for 10-15 minutes, then soak in hot water will relax your muscles and make it easier for you to recover the next day. The icing reduces the swelling that might occur if you land hard on your ankles, and the hot water relieves tension in your muscles, making it easier for blood to move through them. Combined with a post-workout stretch, icing and a hot bath can be a great way to recover after a skating session.
Bodyweight squats: Squatting with the proper bodyweight throughout the day and between skating sessions will strengthen the connective tissue around your joints and actually have more stability around your ankle, hip, and pelvic joints . First, you’ll want to learn how to squat with proper body weight.
I hope these tips will help you have more fun with skateboarding. Sure, it can be very painful at times, but it’s overcoming our personal challenges and getting the reward of rolling out of a trick that makes it all worth it. I love skateboarding, and I’m sure you do too. That’s why, if it were up to me, I would skate all day every day. However, as we get older, our bodies don’t recover as quickly, but if you take these 5 tips to heart, maybe your recoveries will be faster and you’ll be back skating in no time!