Most skaters can remember at least one instance when their brand-new inline skates hurt their feet really bad. I’ve encountered such boots myself. I’m talking about my beginner rollerblades that did all they could to crush my feet every time I hit the skate park.
We all know that skates of all kinds aren’t supposed to feel like the softest wool or velvet ever woven. But if your foot pain is too much during rollerblading, you certainly have a problem. And that’s why I put together this brief resource.
Also Read: Best Inline Skates
In this post, we’ll explore why you’re experiencing pain while inline skating. Most importantly, I’ll share a few ideas on what to do to alleviate the pain or at least lessen the pain and discomfort.
Note: the opinions given here aren’t professional advice in any way. I’m just a girl that loves skating. And all I’m trying to do is share what I’ve learned over time in the hopes it might help someone.
Why Do Inline Skates Hurt the Feet, Killing All the Fun?
I’ll cut to the chase and give you a summarized answer to one frequently asked question in the rollerblading world.
Why do my inline skates hurt when I skate? Your inline skates could hurt because they’re too big or too small. Or they’re new skates and you’ve not broken them in, yet. Or your rollerblades are shaped differently than your feet. Or you have a bad skating form. Or it could be some medical condition. Or your leg muscles aren’t strong enough. Lastly, hard skating impacts and design flaws could be the culprit.
Only you know where your skate pinches. And you’ll have to determine what could be causing the pain at that spot. Hopefully, you’ll find this post helpful in your pursuit of pain-free inline skating.
Related: Tips for carrying Rollerblades
I’ll now take a closer look at each of the possible pain-causing factors above.
5 Reasons Your Inline Skate Hurt You
Let’s dive right in…
1. Maybe Your Rollerblades Are Too Big or Too Small
Fit is undoubtedly the most important aspect when choosing any kind of skates. If your skates are too large or fit too tight, you won’t skate that well in them.
How Should Inline Skates Fit?
When standing, your toes should almost touch the front of the boot. And when skating, knees bent slightly, your toes may somewhat feel the front part. That said, well-fitting inline skates fit snugly — they’re neither too tight nor too loose.
Also, during skating, fitting boots don’t let the feet slide back and forth. Nor do they allow heel-lift. Plus, properly fitting skates don’t cause pressure points.
Additionally, they don’t cause blisters, calluses, bunions, soreness, cuts, and whatnot. One more thing, well-fitting rollerblades shouldn’t be too wide to be a safety hazard during blading.
When Your Inline Skates Are Too Small
Boots that are too small squeeze your feet and cause multiple pressure points. Wearing skates that are too small is a surefire path to nasty blisters, cuts, bunions, cones, calluses, bunionettes, backache, heel problems, and ankle issues.
*In children, rollerblades that are extremely tight can lead to foot malformation. That’s why buying adjustable size kids’ skates makes sense.
I’ve worn boots that cut off my foot circulation completely. The pain and discomfort were so bad that I had to return them.
When Your Rollerblades Are Too Big
If your inline skates are too roomy, they just won’t offer you adequate support. Being too big (too loose) also diminishes power transfer as you stride around. Additionally, being too spacious messes up your balance and speed control. That’s because your foot keeps sloping around, sliding back and forth.
But that’s not all. Skate boots that are too roomy tend to foster foot pronation. Your feet might roll inward or outward, causing uneven wheel wear. Unevenly worn rollerblade wheels negatively affect your balance and increase instability during skating.
Lastly, boots that are extremely big naturally crease in certain areas. With time, the creased spots become weak and might tear. One way to cut the lifespan of your rollerblades is to buy them too loose.
But, what do you do if your boots are too big or too small? Read this post: What to Do If Your Inline Skates Are Too Big. You can heat-mold your inline skates to improve the fit, whether the boots are too small or too big. Heat molding may help reduce volume, but it works best if your boots are small or tight.
2. Do the Work and Break in Your Rollerblades
One common reason skates why skates may feel too tight is them being new. Even if you sized your rollerblades right, new boots will always feel a bit tight. And that’s not a big problem.
In most cases — unless there’s an underlying issue design-wise — wearing skates for a couple of sessions breaks them in. And yes, every inline skater should put in the work and give their skates that worn-in comfy feel.
Wearing the same socks while skating hastens the wearing process. Heat-molding inline skate boots is another great way to soften boot liners and make them comfier. And comfortable boots rarely cause pain while skating.
3. Skates Maybe Shaped Differently Than Your Feet
Two skaters of the same foot size and skating ability may have a starkly different experience while skating. One may have a great time bombing hills and rolling down pavements while another may experience foot pain.
In that case, the culprit is usually the shape of the skate not matching that of the foot. The boot may be designed for skaters with high arches rather than flat-footed skaters. If you wear such a skate and you have flat feet, you’ll likely quit your skating session in 5 minutes.
But using properly shaped insoles can help correct or at least improve fit issues emanating from a skate/foot shape mismatch. If you’re unsure what insoles you can use, have your feet fitted by a skate fitting expert.
4. Maybe You Have Bad Skating Form
One of the main problems in inline skating especially for beginners is bad skating technique and posture. If you remain in the wrong skating form for long, you’ll likely experience lower backache.
In this case, it’s not your skates hurting your feet. It’s your bad skating form causing issues. You want to unlearn your bad skating habits and start cultivating the correct skating stance.
I’ll describe what bad skating form looks like and then help you correct it. If you’re in the wrong stance, your bum stays back, your weight over the heels, and the body leans forward. If you stay in this position for just 5 or so minutes, you’ll experience lower backache.
*If your posture is incorrect, there’s always a noticeable gap/space between your lower shin and your skates’ powerstraps.
And here’s what a good inline skating posture looks like. Your knees remain bent forward and your weight stays over the front half of your skates. As for the upper body and back, they stay straight up.
*If you’re in the correct posture, your lower shin presses against the power straps because your knees aren’t properly bent.
How to Deal With Lower Backache After Inline Skating
There are at least 3 post-rollerblading stretches that can help you relieve backache. Below I describe those three stretches.
3 Easy Post-inline Skating Stretches to Relieve Your Backache
1. The seated-forward fold/bend: Sit down on the ground with your legs stretched out forward. Then, bend over forward for about 5 minutes. But you don’t need to overstretch your back.
This simple stretch curves and arches your back, resolving the pain. You can do this with your rollerblades on or off.
2. Do a couple of half-reclining press-ups: Sit down with your legs stretched out forward. Then, turn to the side and press up against your weight. You’re twisting around your waist to perform each movement.
3. The reclining lumbar twist: First off, lie down on your back with your arms stretched out to the side. Next, bend your knees. Then, twist on your waist until your bent knees touch the ground. Stay in that position for 3-5 minutes and take a few deep breaths.
Next, twist your bent knees to the other side and repeat the rest of the process above. This simple exercise should help loosen your stiff lower back.
5. Design Flows Can Also Cause Pain While Skating
I’ve not come across anyone that mentioned this, but design flaws can cause serious fit-related problems. I once bought a pair of inline skates from a certain brand (can’t remember which exactly), but all I got were problems.
I measured my feet accurately and calculated the correct size based off of the skate brand’s size chart. The skates arrived from Amazon, and I tried them on and hit my local skate park.
I had not even skated for 5 minutes before I noticed discomfort around my ankles. The area over my ankles seemed to have some material that made skating in those boots super uncomfortable. And the skates hurt my feet really bad.
I asked a skater I met at the park what they thought the issue could be. And they said the brand I’d purchased my skates from used a bit of plastic around the ankles. That’s what was causing the pain and discomfort in my ankles.
So, what did I do? I dropped in a pair of comfy insoles that raised my heels a little past the trouble spot. If you’ve tried everything and your skates are still crashing your ankles, it could well be a design flaw at work there.
Different Types of Pain Skaters May Experience
Skaters experience all kinds of problems around their feet. Ankle issues, lower back issues, heel issues, bunions, corns, calluses, and more.
Let’s now look at some of these problems.
Ankle Problems in Inline Skating
Ankle issues are the most common problem that skaters encounter.
If you have weak ankles, you won’t be very steady while skating. Also, your weak ankle muscles won’t give your upper body enough support.
The result? Rolled or twisted ankles and excessive pressure on your foot soles. You may also experience fatigue in your legs after skating.
Overuse causes the majority of ankle issues (overuse ankle injuries). Overuse your ankle tendons, and you’ll likely get Achilles tendonitis. Overuse can also lead to stress fractures that affect the ankle bones.
Wearing poorly fitting inline skates can also cause ankle issues. For example, twisted or rolled ankles because you wore boots that are too loose.
To solve ankle issues, use properly fitted rollerblades. Also, develop stronger ankle muscles. Avoid overuse by skating less often.
Heel Discomfort While Inline Skating
I’ve suffered heel pain. The pain was at the back front of the heel. Other times the pain occurred at the bottom of my feels. For me, skating less after experiencing pain to avoid overuse and using heel inserts helped.
Excessive pressure and stress on the heel for long periods of time can cause heel issues. Overuse (skating too much) or a poor skate fit can also cause heel problems.
There could be other causes of this issue, but I’m no authority on that so I’ll leave that to feet experts.
Calluses and Corns on the Skin of Your Feet
Though not a big problem, I’d rather not have calluses and corns. If you have either of these situations, some areas of your feet or hands become hard and rough. You can see them on skaters’ feet or a musical instrument player’s hands.
If it’s corns, you’ll notice small, cone-shaped skin lumps. And if you spot areas with rough thick skin, that’s most likely calluses.
Constant rubbing, pressure, or friction is the most common cause of these two situations. Wearing extremely tight rollerblades or skipping socks can give you corns and calluses. So, size your skates correctly. And always wear skates while blading.
Bunions on Your Big Toe and Bunionettes on the Small Toe
What are bunions in skating? Bunions are a kind of deformity typically found around the base of the big toe. Wearing skates or other kinds of footwear that are too tight can cause bunions. Too much stress on your feet can cause problems. And having arthritis can cause issues as well. Also, bunions can be a structural issue you inherit from your parents.
Bunionettes usually occur at the base of the small toe. And they’re pretty much like bunions. So, wearing well-fitting skates can keep bunions and bunionettes at bay. See, doing proper skate fitment is critical.
Lower Back Pain After Skating
As a beginner rollerblader, I used to experience lower back pain after skating for a few minutes. Reading around revealed that many inline skaters out there suffered the same problem.
I learned that I need to improve my skating form to address my back pain. Usually, having weak-ish lower back muscles coupled with not having a strong core causes this issue.
My skating position needed some work. I needed to start bending my knees slightly more. Plus, I needed to learn to arch my back a little forward and relax it a bit instead of skating with my back perfectly straight.
Staying too low can also exert pressure on the lower back, causing pain. So, keep shifting your skating position until you find that sweet, comfortable, painless spot.
Final Thoughts on Why Inline Skates Hurt Your Feet
Overuse can cause all kinds of foot pain for skaters. A poor skate fit also causes a whole lot of issues. If skates are too small or too big, you’ll get bunions, bunionettes, blisters, calluses, cones, and more.
Not having a good skating form can also cause trouble. Design flaws and skates being shaped differently than your feet can also be problematic.
You can heat-mold your inline skates, use orthotic footbeds (insoles), use heel inserts, and more to improve the fit.
But the best way to address fit-related issues in rollerblading is to choose properly fitting skates.