Inline skating is powerful and physically demanding sport. It is a game of speed, concentration, coordination and muscular endurance. Muscle power is an important functional component used by a skater for his/her fitness and performance. The horizontal displacement rather than up/down movement of center of gravity used for locomotion is an important characteristic feature of inline skating. It has also been a best cardiovascular, calorie burning and also a cross training activity.
Muscles used by a skater: As mentioned earlier, inline skating is the game of muscular endurance and fitness. Muscles are required to spin, curve, rotate, turn, glide, sprint, stride, jump and push during skating. This game utilizes muscles that usually are not used in normal activities and other cardiovascular sports/exercises and hence represent very special muscular application.
Muscles of lower body are used during inline skating. Triceps and biceps of hands, Hip flexor, Hamstrings (biceps femoris, vastus latoralis and semimembranous), gastrocnemius, quadriceps (vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and rectus femoris), abductor (hip muscles) and adductors (pelvic and femur muscles), gluteal (gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus) and calf muscles are important sets of muscles principally used by inline skater. Abductor and adductor muscles are used extensively to move legs away from and towards midline of the body; they allow lateral body movement. Abdominal muscles are also used along with muscles of lower body especially in double pushes. Eye muscles are used for coordination. Other muscle sets are generally used to flex, extend hip, knee and ankle joints. Many different positions and skills of inline skating like Knee bends, Knee drive, Edge, Low seat, Doubles push, Crosses, Pacing, Sprints, Overtaking, Bent corpus, Nose-Knee-Toes, Timed lapse, Back to back, Point to point, Relay or Marathon are coordinated by these different sets of muscles along with the joints/ligaments of ankle, knee, hip, backbone, pivot, shoulder, elbow and wrist.
Structural adaptations of muscles of an inline skater: Being a muscular activity, inline skating induces certain positive changes in muscular development of a skater. Changes in muscle fibre distribution have been observed which could result an access to reserved fibers or light threshold fast twitch muscle fibers to utilize maximum motor units of muscles. Motor actions are generated by coordinated activation of mono and biarticular muscles. Adaptation to task specific movement such as speed has been achieved by most inline skaters. Since speed is the important component of skating, such muscular adaptation is advantageous to operate around optimal length and contractions. This muscular power then enables the skater to beat the friction on land created by skate wheels and hence to move along with considerable speed. Interrelationship and coordination between endocrine, neural and skeletal muscles to maximize muscular strength development has also been observed. Proper training schedule helps to achieve utilization of full muscular potential for good performance of the skater.
Effects of muscular changes in inline skater: Strengthening of the lower back, development of hip, thigh and gluteal muscles are some of the major effects that results from muscular changes in the skater's body. Lower body and lower limb becomes strong enough to support entire body weight. These effects are mainly induced by bending and gliding steps practiced by a skater during skating. Since the support like seat or handle is not available to support body weight, the skater needs to maintain aerodynamic position to get speed and balance and here it becomes mandatory to bend or glide. Gliding strides are repetitive which also involves coordinated movements of joints, ligaments and tendons of lower body.
Contribution of muscles in physical endurance: Physical endurance can simply be defined as cardio-respiratory fitness and muscular task without fatigue. Development of muscle memory and execution of competitive performance are the two important parameters of physical endurance specially contributed by muscles of a proficient skater. Such developments results in induction of motor skills which can be further strengthened by proper coaching. Motor learning happens in inline skating as the skater concentrates and smoothly repeats movements without thought or efforts. Putting on skates and skating then becomes automatic action. This muscle memory/motor skill is permanently stored in brain even if skater gives up skating or is not practicing.
Muscle fibers distribution is found to be greatly defined in inline skaters. Fast twitch muscles uses short bursts of speed which fatigue more quickly are meant for anaerobic activity like sprints and double pushes. Slow twitch muscles are more efficient to generate ATP for extended muscle contractions over long time are used for aerobic activities such as marathon or long distance relay. Thus both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are used by skaters depending upon long and short performances.
Cardiovascular benefits of skating are advantageous than jogging, cycling and running. It is joint friendly exercise and fat reducing activity to lose weight. Hand movements strengthen upper and lower arm and shoulder muscles. Forward and backward movements promote building up of pelvic, hip, thigh, hamstrings, gluteal, quad and calf muscles. In addition to these, the skater automatically achieves good core fitness (abdominal, lower upper back and hip muscles); abdominal muscles work in concert with back and hip muscles to walk upright. The skater develops an ability to recover from workout quickly with no stress on joints. Strengthening of mental and physical conditions, boosting self confidence and muscle toning are some more outcomes achieved from inline skating. Increased awareness and ability to adjust to various circumstances which makes challenges easier to tackle are some of the precious gifts of inline skating. If anybody would like to conquer cardiovascular diseases or keep away heart ailments to be fit forever then this sport is the most suitable option.
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