How to Rollerblade on Rough Ground

Inline skating on bad roads and poorly maintained sidewalks can be tough. And it’s easy to tumble over. Below is a rough road rollerblading video tutorial I put together to show you how I do it.

Rollerblading is complete freedom and boundless adventure. But what happens when you encounter uneven terrain, rough roads, bumpy paths, and rugged urban streets? I’ll show you how to rollerblade on rough ground like a champion.

Also read: How to rollerblade for the first time

In this tutorial, you’ll learn tips and techniques that will help you inline skate safely and with confidence. Even when the road is of terribly bad quality.

Honestly, though, you will never skate cracked, bumpy, and rocky surfaces at the same level of smoothness as you do on smooth surfaces. But at least, you won’t have to take off your skates every time the riding gets tough.

Also read: Best novice-level inline skates

Rough-surface rollerblading is one of the 11 inline skate tricks demonstrated in the video above (published on our YouTube channel).

Embrace the Tough Ride; Don’t Complain

If you’re like most people, you’ll likely complain and whine about the deplorable state of the roads where you’re at. But that’s not productive if you want to become a badass inline skater.

Here’s what to do instead. View the rough road or surface as a challenge that you can conquer.

As you master how to rollerblade on rough terrain without toppling over all the time and likely hurting yourself, your balance will get better. Also, your riding ability will improve…with time and practice. I speak from experience here.

Instead of allowing roughness to intimidate you, take it on and defeat it. That’s how skaters with a can-do attitude react when they encounter crappy sidewalks, cracked streets, and other bumpy surfaces.

Wear Protective Gear, Because You Might Go Down

There’s no way to eliminate falling over when rollerblading. Falls are a fact of life that you have to accept and even embrace if you intend to inline skate for a while.

But falling is never fun; I don’t know anyone who enjoys a tumble. Certain skating situations increase the odds of a spill. Rough ground rollerblading happens to be one of those scenarios.

I fell onto my hands and knees a bunch of times back in the day when I was learning the art of skating on uneven surfaces. I got nasty knee pain and lacerations on my palms. And these occurrences forced me to get good skating knee pads and wrist guards.

I don’t always wear a helmet, but I always do when battling rough road skating challenges such as rugged streets with traffic. Because…head-on collisions! I love the (our video review) Triple 8 Gotham dual-certified helmet.

Get the Stance and Weight Distribution Right

The staggered position (shown in the picture below) fosters stability and makes face-planting way less likely. If you forget everything else I said, remember to stay in the scissor stance when inline skating on uneven ground.

a person riding inline skates over a rough stretch of a road in the scissor stance
Bujie of riding rollerblades across a rough patch on a low-quality road. Scissor your rollerblades, and you won’t lose balance easily.

Weight distribution: Place your weight over the two middle wheels and not on the rear or front wheel. Too much weight on the right wheel, and you faceplant. Too much weight over the heel, and you fall backward.

To inline skate on rough roads safely…

  • Get in the scissor stance and hold that position, especially when transitioning between rough terrain and a smoother surface.
  • Shift your weight away from the front wheel so that obstacles will not trip you up all the time.
  • Don’t transfer your weight to the rear wheel. Instead, shift your weight to the center of the skate. 
  • If you can avoid the obstacle, avoid it, like when you skate around a pothole instead of riding through and risking instability.
  • Lean a skosh bit forward, but not too much, lest you fall headlong.
  • Bend your knees deeply enough to keep your center of gravity low enough, boosting your stability and overall balance.
  • Skate fast, not slowly.
  • If you begin to lose balance, adjust your stance to ward off a crash. Your body is intelligent enough and knows what adjustments to make to get you back in proper posture.
  • Use bigger wheels
  • If the skating surface is extremely rough, walk on your skates. Walking on rollerblades may be similar to walking in sneakers, but there’s a spatter of weirdness about it. And people might gawk, so embrace that, too.

That’s a summary of what to do when faced with a rough road or other low-quality surface. Let’s now add some meat to this quick-and-dirty guide on rough-road inline skating.

This Advice Never Grows Old: Stay Low

In inline skating, this piece of advice never gets old: stay low. One more time won’t hurt, so bend your knees deeper and stay low. It improves stability and minimizes the chances of going down. Also, keep a somewhat wider stance for the same reason: stability.

Your Chest Should Lean a Bit More Forward

Your back shouldn’t be super straight, though. I know this conflicts with the standard rollerblading advice of ‘‘keep your back straight up.’

But if you follow that advice when rolling over large cracks, rocks strewn all over the surface, and potholes, you won’t like what might happen.

If you don’t bend over a little and have your chest over your toes, you’re likely to fall backward, hitting the back of your head. Helmeting up certainly helps, but making backward falls less likely makes perfect sense.

Have Most of Your Weight Over the Center of the Skates

How does weight distribution change when skating on rough ground? When doing regular skates on smooth streets or sidewalks, your front wheels bear a little more weight than the rear wheels.

But when rollerblading on rough roads, you don’t want to have the majority of your weight on the front wheel.

Why? Because if you encounter a pebble while skating on a cobblestone surface or a rocky dirt road, you could easily trip on it and eat it (crap haha). Instead, have the bulk of the weight over the center of the skate.

Before I learned this trick, a small rock would always trip me up. And I’d fall over and kiss the pointy edges of the terrible surface with my palms, which hurt like hell.

Use Bigger Wheels

Bigger skate wheels perform better than smaller ones when it comes to rolling over rough ground. With the right technique, you can conquer any tough landscape with any wheel size, but bigger ones make the ride remarkably easier.

In the video above, you will notice that my wheels are pretty small. But I’m still able to use them on a really bad road.

Skate fast; Slow is Unsafe!

What’s the recommended skating speed on bumpy surfaces? When inline skating on bumpy terrain, going slow is a bad idea. To power through roughness, speed helps a lot. So, skate reasonably fast and maintain a staggered stance.

More on Using Protective Gear

peter of skating magic with a helmet on as well as elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards

We get it. Many skate helmets give you that dorky look. Plus, it’s not unusual for some skaters to joke about padding up.

Some skaters, especially skateboarders, are notorious for not wearing any kind of protection. No helmet and no pads. But someone takes an extremely bad fall every once in a while. And the wise take notice and change their ways.

We at take a dim view of anyone who thinks helmeting up and wearing wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads is silly or uncool. The gear-ain’t-necessary attitude is plain stupid. It’s the quickest route to the Emergency Room.

Inline skating on rough ground can (and does) increase the likelihood of crashing phenomenally. We strongly recommend wearing a certified skate helmet and wrist guards designed to make fractures less likely to happen.

We’ve looked around, and no wrist guard protects better than the Demon Fleximeter Wrist Guards. Skaters on this subreddit have praised these pads heaps. We’re thinking of ordering them and putting together a video to explain how they differ from their competitors.

How to Inline on Rough Roads: Conclusion

Embrace rough terrain as a challenge to conquer on your rollerblading journey. Maintain the right stance, distribute weight strategically, and wear protective gear to skate confidently and safely. But if you’re looking at an extremely rough stretch, walking on your rollerblades may be best.