If you're like me, you love to skate. A two to three hour session at your local park isn't uncommon, and it leaves you feeling amazing. People skate for all types of reasons, but it goes without saying that the health benefits you stand to gain from skateboarding like feeling amazing after exercise, and the challenge and rewards available make us keep wanting more. The problem I face, and a lot of other skaters face is the soreness and aching after a session. This can be especially apparent the next day. Some skaters deal with it differently than others. Some people seem immune to the pain and can wake up every day and go skate like crazy, no matter how beat up they got the day before. For the rest of us, here are some solid tips to getting 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 like any physical activity. If you don't do it for a while then your body has a harder time getting used to the abuse. Some people live in a climate that is cold and rainy during the winter, so they stop skating for a few months until it gets warm again. Then come spring time their body isn't used to all the banging around and goes through a phase of soreness for a while before it can adapt itself again. If you ride your skateboard more often, your body will stay adapted to the abuse, and it won't hurt as much after a session. This doesn't mean going out every day to jump down a 20 stair because you'll get better at it. This kind of abuse can lead to serious injuries, but if you skate a little bit every day, and work on progressing through your learning curves while maintaining a positive attitude, you will have a better time and get more enjoyment out of it.
Stretching before and after your sessions: It's easy to get in a couple of toe touches and butterflies just after you start skating hard, and just after you stop skating. In fact, if you don't make time for stretching, you will have to make time for injuries and soreness later on. Pro skaters do it all the time. They have to compete, film, and jump down huge things all the time to make money, so they learn from the best physical trainers in the world. Those physical trainers will teach you first that in order to avoid injuries while working out, you must learn to stretch. If you haven't stretched much recently, it's OK. Start now, and take it slow. Stretch in the morning when you wake up, in the afternoon, just after you get warmed up skating and just after your skate sesh, then stretch again before bed. This much stretching throughout the day will make your body loose and limber, and will 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.
Doing a warm-down: Just as warming-up is important in skating to ensure you don't fall when you first start skating, warming-down is important to ensure your muscles have a moment to decompress. To do a warm-down, do some light 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're a photographer. It will help get the blood flowing to your joints for some added recovery.
Eat or drink lots of protein after a sesh: I read lots of blogs and forums about people looking for the best recovery methods, and this one is the same throughout. You must eat or drink lots of protein, 30-50 grams, immediately following a workout, along with coconut water or Gatorade. Your body needs the protein to rebuild the muscle, and the energy drink will replenish glycogen levels and raise insulin levels. Insulin can help restore muscle proteins by inhibiting protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis. Since I am vegan, I recommend a plant-based protein shake. You can find these at your local sprouts, whole foods, or online at Amazon.com. Granted, they aren't cheap, but if you really don't want to feel as sore after a skate session, they might be worth a try. Also, eating or drinking potassium rich substances after a workout will help replenish spent reserves. Coconut water has lots of potassium in it, making it an excellent post workout drink. I get mine at the local 99 cents store to save money. Make sure to get the one without any added sugar. Your body also needs things like sodium and calcium to refuel muscle energy. Bananas and sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium, sodium and calcium. Add these to your post-skate session meals and you'll feel better in no time. Also, grapes and cherries have antioxidants in them that help your body relieve soreness in your joints. Another tip is to take fish oil or flax seed oil pills. The omega-3, 6 and 9 do wonders for lubricating your joints.
Get better sleep: Sleep is essential to rebuilding muscles, joints and tendons. If you stay up late partying or watching TV after skate sessions, you won't get the benefits that sleep offers. To make the most out of your Z's, get at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night. If you're like me and have trouble falling asleep, you can try to take an herbal supplement like melatonin or valerian root (I found a supplement called 'relax & sleep' at my local Dollar Tree). Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea will also help. Additionally, committing yourself to a 'technology-blackout' after 9 pm every night will help you get to bed easier. Whatever it takes, get the sleep you need to recoup and you'll be able to skate every day at to your fullest potential!
Reduce stress: Acute stress, like the type you get from exercising, is good for you. Chronic stress, like when you don't get enough sleep, or when you have a paper due at school, is not good for you. To recover completely from your skate sessions in the fastest way possible, make time to do stress-relieving exercises like short hikes, hanging out with friends, and riding a bicycle. These are all things known as active-recovery, and can go a long ways in helping you recover mentally from a hard skate session. Getting social with good friends and laughing are the best ways to relieve stress.
Ice, then take a hot bath: Icing your ankles after a skate session for 10-15 minutes, then bathing in hot water will relax your muscles and make it easier for them to recover the next day. The icing reduces swelling that might happen if you landed on your ankles really hard, and the hot water relieves the tension in your muscles making it easier for blood to move through them. Combined with an after workout stretch, icing and a hot bath can be an excellent way to recover after a skate session.
Body weight squats: Doing proper body weight squats during the day and between skate session will strengthen the connective tissue around your joints, and in effect you'll have more stability around the joints in your ankles, hips and pelvis. First you'll want to learn how to do proper body weight squats.
I hope these tips help you have more fun with skateboarding. No doubt it can be very painful at times, but it's overcoming our personal challenges and getting the reward of rolling away from a trick that make it all worth it. I love skateboarding, and I'm sure you do to. That's why if it was up to me, I would skate all day every day. However, as we age 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 out skating again in no time!