Just from looking at them, it would seem that roller skates and rollerblades aren’t really that much different from each other. After all, they have wheels that you put on your feet and you use a skating motion to move your body forward. It would seem that these sports really are one and the same, but beyond the seeming similarity, there is actually quite a bit of difference between roller skates and rollerblades.
The skates are actually built differently. Since rollerblading and roller skating impact different muscles of the body, this means that these units have to be designed differently. The key difference here, of course, is maneuverability. The way you move around on skates and rollerblades are different from each other. This impacts the kind of sports you can use these devices for.
Don’t think that just because they generally look the same that you get the same results. No. You move differently. This impacts design, it also impacts the parts of your body that you use.
The Biggest Differences Between Roller Skates and Rollerblades
In terms of appearance, the biggest thing that would jump out at you is the difference in the pattern of the wheels involved between these two types of sports equipment. The wheels are simply placed on roller skates and rollerblades differently.
For example, looking deeper, the rollerblades have wheels that are much thinner than roller skates. Also, these wheels are placed in one row, forming like a straight blade, but these are made out of wheels. The brakes of this footwear are also different from roller skates because the stoppers are placed at the back of the unit. The way you put on rollerblades and keep them on your feet involves straps. Finally, the body of the unit is usually quite hard. We’re talking about materials like plastic. In a way, rollerblades, as a unit, tend to look very similar to ski boots.
Roller skates, on the other hand, have thicker wheels. These are more common and you’ve seen them quite a bit. They are kind of similar to the thickness of skateboards. The placement of the wheels involves two rows. As far as the rubber brakes are concerned, these are put on the front of roller skates, not the back like rollerblades.
The way you keep this footwear on usually involves laces. The body of roller skates tends to be lighter than rollerblades because rollerblades often use plastic shells that are very hard. With roller skates, it’s like wearing a leather boot, except there are skates at the bottom of your feet. In fact, some roller skate designs use traditional leather shoes as their models, so they look like simple shoes with wheels at the bottom.
Given this difference, it’s no surprise that when you look at the technology involved, rollerblades seem to be a lot more high tech. They have to be because your feet are enclosed, so the units have to be designed with some sort of air vent. This enables your feet to breathe while you wear the hard plastic shelling. On top of that, to ensure comfort, the unit also has shock absorbers.
These Units Impact Different Muscle Groups
When you are rollerblading and roller skating, there are different parts of your body that you use. Although the movement is generally the same, the way you propel yourself and the muscles you use for that propulsion are different.
When you’re roller skating, the primary muscles that you use involve the lower part of your abdomen, your quads, your leg’s hamstrings, calves and your butt muscles, meaning the glutes. Roller blading, on the other hand, not only works these same muscles, but there is also a lot of emphasis on how you move your hips. This is due to the fact that, on the whole, roller skates tend to be more stable than rollerblades because of the thicker wheels in two columns. Rollerblades, on the other hand, have just one line, so you’re basically trying to remain balanced and you have to move your hips quite a bit to keep that balance. This leads, of course, to the final difference between the two, which is maneuvering.
Since the roller skates tend to have a more even distribution of your weight when you maneuver, you’re really not focusing too much on the balance because you can assume that there would be some balance. The price you pay for this balance, however, is a relative lack of flexibility compared to rollerblades.
Rollerblades, on the other hand, require you to move your hips and position your body in such a way that you stay in balance. But since you’re dealing with only one line of skates, you are able to execute much faster turns and you could also do a lot more tricks with these skates. This is also made possible by the fact that the brakes for rollerblades are placed in the back of the unit so you can stop faster.
Keep the differences above in mind if you are still on the fence regarding which type of gear to get. While they do seem quite similar as far as surface appearances go and general movement are concerned, there are small differences that can add up to a lot.
If you’re looking for greater maneuverability and a tremendous amount of flexibility as far as movement is concerned, you can’t go wrong with rollerblades. The down side to rollerblades is that they do require a lot more work as far as keeping your balance goes. With roller skates, balance is not an issue. The issue is more of just learning how to stop, but that’s fairly easy to learn.
If you’re looking to just skate forward and enjoy a lot of speed and have a good time outdoors, roller skates are right up your alley. However, if you’re looking for something more demanding or something more sporty, you might want to take a long hard look at rollerblades.