Safety Is Sexy?
Anyone thats watched 'Whip It' will know what I mean. Is safety sexy? Well maybe? But using your noggin & looking after your body & protecting yourself from injury is definitely sensible. Plus if your broken you cant really skate which is definitely no fun! We’ve answered some common questions when it comes to buying & fitting pads.
Do skaters really wear this stuff, won’t I look stupid?
Nah, most people wear pads these days, especially with the growing popularity of roller derby its become second nature for many skaters to wear pads all the time (skating not around the house!) You also become braver when you’re wearing them so it’s easier to chuck yourself into learning new skills.
You have to think long term also, do you want to be active when you’re older? Looking after your body now will make life easier when you get there. Humans aren’t made very well, we break & bruise & we have a tendency to malfunction quite often, so look after your body before shit happens to it. Let’s face it, self preservation is a thing & it just makes sense to look after yourself.
Ok so do I have to spend a fortune & are the pricey ones worth it?
In a nutshell no you don’t have to spend a fortune if you can't afford it, cheap pads are better than no pads, but investing in good pads is definitely worth it. Generally they will last you much longer than cheaper pads will & the more expensive ones go through a better design process & have far better padding & technology to make them which ultimately protects you better when you fall, which keeps you skating far longer. Remember you can't skate & have fun if your broken!
Cheap triple pad sets are ok for the money & are essentially better than wearing nothing but they don’t offer a very good level of protection & rarely fit well either. People aren't often the same size throughout the body so you often find some of the pads don’t fit particularly well. If you like the colours of some of the triple pad sets make sure to invest in some of the decent brands like 187 Killer, Smith Scabs & Triple8.
Which pads should I avoid?
Thats an easy one, mainly cheap ones & the super basic pads that come from sports chain stores, they fit terribly & don’t have good padding & usually way too much elastic causing them to fit badly & slip down. The worst culprits are the 'pads', if you can call them that, that have kids tv characters on, they’re usually incredibly thin & no better than a bit of cardboard with a plastic cap on them, they might protect you from scrapes & grazes - if by some miracle they stay in place, but won’t protect from serious internal joint injuries & your never too young to do serious damage to yourself. Also try not to buy second hand & NEVER buy a second hand helmet, with each impact you have the padding compresses & you won't know how many falls they have taken before you use them, but your knees will notice when you land on them & they aren't as protected as they should be.
Ok so I’ve got knee pads, elbow pads & wrist guards, which are the most important pads?
To be honest its fairly close between your knees & wrists. You don’t tend to go down on your elbows so much but thats not to say it doesn’t or won't happen. Your wrists & knees tend to be what makes the most contact with the floor when you fall & will certainly take the most weight of any impact, so its really important to wear good pads to protect them well. It varies depending on what sort of skating you are doing, derby skaters tend to invest in knees & wrist guards more than anything as there are a lot of knee falls
How should they fit when I first get them?
Pads should feel tight/snug when they’re new & probably stiff for a while too. As you sweat in them they will loosen up so its important they fit tight enough when they are new so that they don’t end up too big once they have broken in.
Won’t the bulky knee pads hinder my skating?
No, but they will protect your knees amazingly. Derby skaters often say they're like 'landing on kittens'. *insert laughing/horrified face here ;)
Newer skaters worry that they won’t be able to do crossovers with thick pads but it’s very unlikely. As you crossover the back leg does the under push so you have plenty of room no matter your pad size to crossover well. If anything they might encourage you to do wider crossovers which will give you more power & speed.
What about my head? What should I be looking for in a helmet?
Helmets are super important. Think of it this way, you only have one brain & you can't have a new one.
Ideally your skate helmet should be at least dual certified to bike & skateboard standards, CPSC for bicycle helmet standard & ASTM F1492 for skateboard helmet standard. The dual certification means they are designed to be used for more than one sport & means they have undergone rigorous testing in the development stage to make sure thgey are safe for those activities. By law bicycle helmets MUST meet the CPSC standard to be sold in the USA, if they meet this standard they can be sold for skating & cycling, but the same law does not apply to just skate helmets, there currently isn't a law that says skateboarding helmets must meet any standard at all. But when its your brain at risk we suggest making sure your helmet has all the bells & whistles.
The advatage to getting a dual certified helmet is that the CPSC bycicle helmet standard test line is lower in the front than the F1492 skateboard standard which has a lower test lione in the back, so a dual certified helmet will have to protect your head more overall to meet both these test requirements.