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You're too young to feel pain & soreness every time you skate: 4 steps to feel at your best

The biggest myth in skateboarding is that when you get to your mid 20s you’re supposed to start feeling pain, soreness and have less energy when you skate. You’re supposed to be losing tricks. Warming up should take 30 mins and your hips should feel stiffer than a metal pipe. “I’m just getting older” people say.

Well, Reynolds said: "For me, from about 28 to 33 I feel was some of my best skating of my life." and the truth is, you should be skating and feeling at your best in your 20s and 30s and if you apply the tips I’m about to go over in this video/article, you can. So let’s get it.

Skaters start feeling sore way too young

Why is it that most world records in almost all sports are made between the ages of 25-35, but so many skaters get to these ages and start to feel like they’re losing it and have been beaten with multiple frozen trouts every time they go skate. Why is it you used to be able to skate for 5 hours every day fuelling your session on coke and biscuits. But now you skate an hour and you’re hurting or just never feel fully recovered? What changed?!

Well, when you’re young and going through adolescence your body is a beast of adaptation and recovery. It’s in growth mode, increasing things like muscle and bone density rapidly, along with a potentially unwanted monobrow. During these younger years the damage skating places on your body gets repaired super fast and you wake up the next day in relatively the same state as before you skated, ready to skate for hours again.

graph showing growth enhancement of adolescence

Due to this accelerated recovery, fewer years of skating, and probably not too many serious injuries, you just won’t have accumulated as much damage and wear and tear on your joints, meaning your body is closer to its original, more optimal state.

“I noticed a lot of kids get to around 23 or 24 and they start hurting, and they think it's just part of getting older. I want them to realise, like I did, that 23 is young and there's no reason for your body to be sore all the time”.
- P-Rod

As we get older and leave adolescence that state of rapid recovery and growth starts to taper and this is where problems start to kick off.

The same session you would have bounced back from in a day when you were younger, might now take two or three days to bounce back from, meaning damage and fatigue can accumulate easier. 

On top of that, from the extra years skating you’ve potentially had extra injuries, tweaks and sprains which not only add damage, but because the standard skate rehab program is a few days off and a few extra beers, the temporary injury now might have made long term changes on how your body functions and move.

Chuck in lifestyle shit that slows recovery and adds fatigue - like partying more, drinking and only knowing how to cook ketchup pasta - and now you’re also battering your body when you’re off your board too.

Add all this shit together and repeat over time and you’ll be baking a bodily throb cake at an exponential rate.

graph showing accumulation of factors that influence recovery capacity

Now, this doesn’t mean you’re fucked and there’s nothing you can do. But it does mean that as you get older, you can’t keep doing what you did when you were 18 and expect to feel the same.

Like I said up to your mid 30s you should be feeling your best, and maybe even longer - look at Decenzo who’s 37 and skating better than ever. But you have to keep in mind that your body is different now and you only have two options:

1. Keep doing what you’ve always done and get what you’ve always got.

2. Make an extra effort to feel better and skate how you want by applying these things I’m about to go over.

How to get out of pain & soreness

So the solution is pretty simple on paper. We’re going to use the four stage method commonly known as RRRPP, by absolutely no one...

Remember that Reynolds quote from the start? Well the second half is - “I think it had to do with taking care of myself. Eating well, exercising. That stuff changes your skating. You could easily feel 10 years younger than you would if you weren't doing that stuff."

Restore: skate training

Now these first two are really one split into two - Restore & Reinforce. They’re based on exactly what probably helped Reynolds the most - training. 

Take a look at the clip above of two massive frontside flips form Andrew Reynolds and Chris Joslin. Check how much Reynolds flexes his joints as he absorbs the landing impact in comparison to Josliln.

Now don't get me wrong, Joslin's an absolute beast of a skater, but you can easily see how much better Reynolds is at absorbing impact. The extra flexion of his joints allows Reynolds to absorb a higher amount of force, as it's that joint flexion that puts the muscles in a better position to function and absorb impact.

Joslin doesn't flex his joints anywhere near as much and you almost see the force shock through his body as he lands. If you're lacking range of motion or function at a joint, not only will you increase the amount of force that gets jolted through your body but you'll send that force through another part of the body that potentially wasn't designed to take it. This can lead to pain, poor function, wear and tear of your joints, or serious injuries.

Pro skateboarder Andrew Reynolds absorbing impact
Pro skateboarder Chris Joslin absorbing impact

So you need to pick skate focused exercises that give you enough mobility for what you do and how you want to move when you skate.

Injuries can also make long term changes on how your body functions which won’t often won’t return to normal without specific exercises. Take ankle sprains - one long term change people often experience from an ankle sprain is the inability to flex the ankle and long term instability. These are both things that put you at a higher risk for recurring sprains, but things that can be improved with specific exercises.

So if you’re still struggling long after an injury, your first step to getting out of pain and soreness is to sort it and get moving better. As every injury is different, I would recommend going to get specific advice from a physiotherapist.

Reinforce: skate training

Now you don’t want to just be ultra flexible at your joints, you need to be able to control your joint motion. You need to be strong and resilient so you can handle all those massive forces of jumping, impact, slamming and repetitive movement as you try a trick 100 times.

Skateboarders often think this means stretching, and although stretching can sometimes be a piece of the puzzle, strength training will get you what you're looking for. If done right it will also get you usable flexibility you're hoping to get from stretching.

Working out for skateboarding also doesn’t mean just a bunch of sit ups, squats and push ups, it means picking exercises that make you skate strong.

Exercises that build your body to be able to handle the different forces and movements we do when we skate. That build resilience at your joints, train you to absorb and create force, and to have enough energy to maintain these movement as you fatigue during a long session.

It’s all about raising your physical tolerance, so when you skate it’s not so much of a shock on your body. Not only will this kind of training reduce pain and soreness, but it will also reduce more serious injury risk and even get you skating better!

So many problems of the skaters I train get resolved by just staying consistent with the right exercises 2x a week - back pain, knee pain, hip pain, low energy - it's actually crazy how much of a positive impact training can have on how you feel on your board.

graph showing how skate intensity above physical tolerance leads to pain

Basically, training is a non-negotiable part to feeling good on your board as you age. If you had to do one thing it should be training - build a program with skate focused exercises and stay committed to it. If you don’t know how to put together your own program and want one you can do at home with exercises I use with the skaters I work with - then check out The NBD Skate Performance program here.

Reinforce: skate regularly

The second piece to reinforcing your body is skating regularly. This is essential to keep your body adapted to skating. No amount of training will totally prepare you for and protect you from skating, but neither will just skating without training.

In the same way that randomly running a marathon is going to leave you destroyed for days, so is either not skating for weeks followed by one big session. Or constant chilled flat sessions and a random 10 stair sesh.

Your body adapts to what you do most the time, and random spikes in intensity take you way past that threshold of what you can currently handle, meaning much more damage to recover from, and a big increase in injury risk. This will then lead to needing more time off your board, or skating worse for the extra days you need to recover.

So figure out an intensity and number of sessions weekly that don’t leave you destroyed for days afterwards and build on top of that as your body becomes more resilient through training and skating.

If you've been feeling fatigued for a long time and feel like you've been stuck skating bad for too long check this video.

Boss level recovery tools

Recovery is the idea of bouncing back either to the same point physically, or ideally better than before you trained or skated.

I’ve lost count of the amount of skaters that have told me how much better they skated after a week off, and considering so many skaters do themselves over by skating too much or too intensely, it makes sense as their bodies are screaming for recovery. 

The thing is you don’t get stronger or better at skating in the moment you skate or train, that’s just the trigger. You’re actually going to perform worse immediately after because of the fatigue and damage you've accumulated. The growth and learning come in the hours and days after as you’re recovering, and there are certain things you can do to optimise this process.

general adaptation graph skate recovery

As I've covered these topics many times before, to avoid flogging a dead moose I’m going to link these video/articles below to the biggest bang for your buck recovery tools you have available:

general adaptation graph skate recovery and adaptation

Progress & preserve

Ok so you've applied everything and now your body's moving well, you’re feeling more resilient, and you’re on top of recovery. Now what?

Well, now from this solid foundation you progress and you keep doing it, unfortunately for the rest of your life.

I would recommend skaters of any age get on this stuff to a certain degree, but it's even more important the older you get becomes ageing comes with a natural and unavoidable reduction in muscle and strength. However, with the right kind of training you can have a big influence on how fast and how severe this loss is.

Now even though it might have seemed like I’ve been saying you need to just hold back on intensity and skate less, that’s only temporary with the objective of eventually doing the complete opposite and progressively getting stronger and skating more.

So I'm going to finish this article with a challenge - For the next 6-12 weeks I challenge you to commit to training 2x a week for 45-60mins, along with a new habit from the recovery section.

I promise you if you really put in the effort to stay committed to these things you’ll feel completely different at the end. So pick your workouts, pick your habit and let's get it!

Check The NBD Skate Performance program here.

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