(HealthDay News) -- Rollerblading has become a popular sport and offers significant health benefits, but without some precautions, it can also lead to serious injury.
According to the Purdue University Health Center, you should always wear a certified helmet designed for rollerbladers, as well as protective gear on your knees, elbows, wrists and hands. Also make sure your skates are the right size -- fitted but not tight or uncomfortable. When purchasing your rollerblades and equipment, you can ask the store about a few introductory lessons on how to skate properly.
Start out skating on a soft surface -- on grass or a gym mat -- until you feel comfortable enough to hit the pavement. Even then, stick to skating on sidewalks or trails, avoiding crowds. Follow driving rules, skating on the right side of the path and passing on the left. Remember to be courteous to other skaters, and give a warning signal when trying to pass.
Check your skates and equipment regularly to be sure nothing is loose or out of alignment. Tighten all screws, and replace wheels and brakes when they begin to show signs of wear. Proper stretching, warming up and cooling down -- as with any exercise -- are important to prevent muscle strain.