Asha’s advice for inline skating knee pains

Juan Peirotti from Argentina wrote to me with this question about his knees;

Q: I’ve been rollerskating (inline) for a year and a half. I love the sport and watched your videos. I learnt a lot with them, specially the Mohawk Transition and Backwards Powerslide Stop which I now perform with ease.

I’m writing because my knees started hurting a couple of months ago and apparently I got some external meniscus rupture. I’m 34 and freeskate a lot, and fast. My traumatologist advises me to train for the sport, lots of leg and especially lots of core which I started doing this week.

Still, I wanted to ask you if you have any advice or pointers to give me about this situation and what to do to keep doing this awesome sport for many years without a serious injury?

A: Sorry to hear about your knee problems Juan. You are not alone unfortunately. I’m also skating with an injury but have cured a knee problem several years ago and completely avoided surgery so I can share my experience with you. Im learning so much about what’s possible through training my body off skates with Yoga.

Strength is hugely important and you are on the right path thinking that. Core and Glutes are the primary stabilisers of the body so they must be strong but also as they get stronger they will get tighter so you also have to stretch the glutes.

I’ve been practicing different forms of yoga for 20 years and without yoga I would not be skating still. It has always made me strong and flexible which like a tree in the wind, means you can withstand different physical stresses.

If you are strong (and tight) then things crack and break, like an old tree. If we are flexible but with no strength we are a noodle! So a combination for me of strength training (yoga) and flexibility work (yoga) has allowed me to continue skating even with a serious hip injury.

Hot yoga and Bikram yoga were responsible for me curing a serious knee problem 5-6 years ago. Those yoga styles made me very strong particularly in the legs, glutes and core which helped support the knee joint. Joints need to be supported by strong muscles. It’s difficult to practice in the heat but its a very good and safe option but you have to learn self awareness and not pushing too hard in the postures. Yoga is a lifelong journey into your body if you choose to explore it. It has saved my skating life.

A surgeon recently said to me after looking at my MRI scan, “This hip should not be able to walk, or cycle and certainly not skate like you do……your bad hip does 80% more than most people’s good hips who are 20 years younger than you”.

I told him it was yoga. He wasn’t interested and laughed. When I stop practicing the knee exercises from Bikram yoga, I start getting knee pain after 2 weeks of not practicing. And then 3 classes later it stops. Yoga is truly for me something I have tested with scientific precision (I’m a Virgo and daughter and sibling to scientists) and the results are that I’ve skated for 34 years with no injuries until 3 years ago.
In Jan 2015 I fractured my pelvis and tore the hip cartilage in half. I need a full hip replacement (according to my MRI) but I’m not planning to have it until at least 5-6 years. So far I can skate and teach and live my life and control and manage what pain I do very effectively with yoga. I take no painkillers, just stretching. A Lot!

I don’t go to gyms and I don’t lift weights. Because of my dislike of gyms, yoga is the best way for me to get strong without having to lift weights. Lifting your body weight and holding positions and balancing on one leg, is harder than you think. Yoga is always the hardest thing I do everyday but it feels wonderful even when it feels hard and difficult.

My advice if you want to investigate yoga as a “Cross-Training” activity to skating, then do a Google search near your home or place of work and start testing different studios, different styles and different teachers and see who and what you like the best. Alway tell your teachers you have an injury and take it easy on the injured side.

I am in the process of writing and making an online course called “Yoga for Skaters” which will include short and longer yoga series especially designed to help skaters care for their knees, hips, backs and ankles (which are the most common skater injury areas). This Online course about yoga is in response to so many people like you who have written to me asking for injury, fitness and yoga advice off skates.

I hope this helps and let me know how your injury maintenance and healing goes. It’s a journey!