Which is better roller skates or roller blades? It is no secret that skating depends on the nature of wheels, and when you get two types of wheel configurations, it becomes extremely difficult to figure out which roller skates for women to choose. Matters are not helped by the fact that even professionals mix up the two names and most companies manufacture both variants. Yet choosing one can have substantially different learning curves, muscle exertions and physical benefits from the other. Naturally then, beginners and even experienced users need to think carefully before they jump onto any one bandwagon.
Roller skates refer to skates that have four wheels located below the plate, two on either side. In other words, the wheels are present in two rows of two wheels each. The stopper in most such skates is located at the front and is larger than that found in roller blades. Furthermore, the wheels tend to be heavier and the wheel thickness tends to be more. The wheel radius (distance from axle to wheel edge) tends to be slightly more than in case of blades.
Shoe designs are known for being extremely varied so chances are that any design found on a skate will be found on a blade as well. However, skates have greater prevalence of laces over straps than blades. Further, they are more likely to have a standard walking shoe design.
Generally, these skates tend to work virtually all leg muscles. Since the wheels are stable, greater effort is required on the part of the upper body to produce the “drive” required to move quickly. Hence, the upper body workout is substantial as well.
With these specifications, skates have achieved popularity in a number of sports. Prime among these are derby and figure skating or dancing. Derby involves one team stopping another’s “jammer” from getting past them and thus involves physical contact. Such contact requires adequate balance, thus favouring the spaced out wheel configuration.
Figure skating or dancing, on the other hand, require balance and the ability to remain on one leg for extended periods of time. Again, the roller skate is ideal (though the blade would provide for faster movement.
Pros of Roller Skates
- Well-balanced and have decent centre of gravity, hence require less training and body agility.
- Substantial upper body workout
- Large stoppers aid in fast change of pace and stopping
- Heavy wheels reduce chances of tripping
- Shoes often more comfortable than those of roller blades
- Manoeuvring difficult due to heavy wheels
- Straps less common in roller skates
- Not ideal for certain sports like roller racing
Roller blades are often confused with the company of the same name. In reality, any inline skate can be called a roller blade as long as the four wheels of the skate are in a single line. The stopper in such situations is typically at the back of wheel series and is smaller in size. Wheel thickness is typically very low, thus giving the impression of “blades” when in motion.
Interestingly, the roller blades come with special shoes that usually have a hard plastic outer shell. Shoe sizes, therefore, often differ from what your running shoe size would be. However, most manufacturers today offer variants having normal shoes.
Since the wheels are narrow and the wheelbase is somewhat contracted, the weaker equilibrium ensures that most users don’t have to put in too much upper body drive. However, they do need to maintain balance as the lack of support on either side of the wheel series means that chances of falling are higher. Hence, you would probably have to use your hips and arms to ensure that balance is maintained at all times.
Sports involving roller blades include aggressive racing and roller hockey. Aggressive racing involves moving at high speeds, often with minor physical contact. Such speed cannot be achieved by roller skates hence blades are the preferred choice. Roller hockey, on the other hand, is a close cousin of ice hockey and hence, blades are a must.
- Fast movement and manoeuvring
- Workout of additional muscles
- Improvement of balance and cadence
- Excellent for fast moving sports like racing
- Learning to balance oneself may be harder for beginners
- Not ideal for rugged terrains as blades are prone to disequilibrium and tripping
Roller skates or rollerblades for beginners
Which is easier roller skates or roller blades? It is not easy to give a verdict to either skates or blades since beginners can start skating with different goals and these goals would demand certain types of equipment. To make the choice easier, we’ve divided the debate into various possible scenarios –
For the fitness enthusiast – Fitness enthusiasts typically prefer to skate for long distances on off-road or pavement surfaces. While blades can easily be used, the risk of tripping on small stones or losing one’s balance due to a ditch is greater. Hence, if fitness is the only goal and you are not looking to skate exclusively in a rink, roller skates may be a good choice.
For the athlete – Athletes and sports enthusiasts often take to skating to burn calories rapidly. For such people, rollerblades are ideal because they train a larger number of muscles and help improve balance.
For the racing enthusiast – Many people take to skating for the adrenaline rush that accompanies fast skating and racing. Such people should also go for roller blades. However, initially choosing a roller skate may not be amiss because these improve one’s ability to achieve basic skating mastery.
For people with injuries – Ideally, you should not skate if you have an injury. If you still desire to do so, always stick to a roller skate since the chances of losing balance are far lesser.
For improving muscle fitness – Some patients suffering from muscle weakness are advised to take to skating to improve the ability of the muscles to bear weight and move efficiently. For them, either skate will work since both achieve sufficient amounts of calorie burn. However, the upper body is worked by the skate while the hips are worked by the blades.
As the above discussion shows, both skates and blades for women have their own way of providing a great workout and are keys to different worlds of competitive sports. From the perspective of a beginner however, it may be said that mastering the skate is somewhat easier than learning the blades. Once this initial hiccup is surpassed however, skates can offer a balanced, drive-intensive and slower workout while blades can prove a faster, balance-driven and manoeuvre-friendly workout. As long as you maintain your workout/training regime with dedication, choosing either wisely should be able to take you to your desired goal.