June 10, 2012

How To: Use 5 Everyday Products To Make Your Skating Life Easier

Yes, I know. Skating, and skating-related products cost an absolute small fortune. Your annual budget could probably feed the population of a small developing country for a month. So any little suggestion to keep your feet from wandering into pro skating shops, and those all important £££ / $$$ (replace with relevant currency) in your bank account, you'll take it, right? I know I would have.

So here are three products which can be bought from non professional skating shops, which will make your (rink) life easier.

#1 Party Feet Gel Pads 
Scholl make these, and I believe they are called "Party Feet". They are marketed as gel pads to relieve the aches and pains of high heels (women who complain of heel pain need to take up skating - it would put a few things in perspective!) and can be placed in any part of the shoe to relieve friction, rubbing, or just add another cushioning layer to help guard against sore bones (such as heel or big toe pain).

Such pads are highly effective in the soft-foot V new-boot battle. Place them wherever you normally get rubbing and skin loss from friction, and behold. No more holes in feet. I'm not saying you won't feel any pressure to the area, dare I say pain, but you won't get skin breakage which can lead to sharp pain, infection, and not being able to put one's foot in anything except a flip-flop (and even then those damn straps had better not be in the wrong place!).

You don't have to get Scholl, or any other fancy schmancy brand. In the UK, high street retailer Primark sell sets of such pads for £1. I kid you not. Go to the ladies accessories department, and stock up. Failing that, try discount shops (UK: Poundland) or pharmacies.

2. Cream Cleaner
Need those boots tidied before a competition or test date? Coach had a go at you lately about "the state" of your boots? Don't fork out for "professional grade" boot cleaner or paint. In fact, I strongly advise against the whole paint scenario, unless you never want your boots to look the same again, ever (can you taste my bitterness?).

Buy yourself some cream cleaner. You know the stuff, the cream liquid you clean your bathroom with. I used to use a product called Jif, which was a cream cleaner powder. That stuff was amazing, but I've not seen it in the shops for a while now, so can only assume it's been replaced by its hydrated counterparts entirely.
Cif is a good cream product (coincidence, these rhyming names? I suspect not, but have no desire to look into the subject any further!) which can be applied either directly to the boot, or onto a sponge and then massaged into the boot surface. Leave it on for a while if you've got some tough stains, or worse, gashes in the surface into which unspeakable amounts of rink-sludge and general filth have become engrained.

Make sure to rinse thoroughly with a cold-watered sponge to take all the cream residue off, or you'll never get those boots up to a high shine (much like your bathroom sink, come to think about it).

3. Cheapo Bleach
Similar to the boot-cleaning scenario, there will come a time when you'll need to change those laces. No point in having spangly boots and manky grey (heaven forbid, black) laces.

Don't waste money on new laces, one set of laces has a good 3 or 4 lives in them! Get yourself a plastic basin, and some household bleach instead. Plonk the laces in the basin while you have yourself a very well earned bubble bath (wine optional), and by the type you looked like a (tipsy) prune, your laces will be radiant a new.

I used to hang mine over a radiator to dry off, and as they are thin they take no time at all to dry out.

TIP: Don't leave it until the night before the test/comp/etc. to do the laces. You are going to need to re-lace your boots, and quite frankly you have enough other stress going on to not have that added task. You could even do them before your last practice session, in order to make sure they're not too short (they shrink during washing, generally) to tie them how you usually do.

4. Old Pillowcases
Keep your skates in them, to protect against scratches and knocks during transport.
Why fork out in excess of £40 for professional boot pouches (albeit probably made out of some luxurious-feeling fabric, such as velvet) when a good old pillowcase will do the trick?

Same applies for any old clothing which is soft and void of poppers, buttons, and anything else which could damage the leather of your boot, or parts of your blades. Examples include t-shirts and old jumpers (avoid anything too bulky, of your skates'll no longer fit into your skating bag).

5.  Clear Nail Varnish
Hole in the foot of your tights? I must have had a zealous tight toenail when I was growing up, because the hole always seemed to be in the same place, in the foot seam (well, then there were those butt-area tight tears from all the falling, but we'll graciously forget those, shall we?).
Tights are so expensive. Argh. I mean, they're just tights, right?! If you've ever wished you could just get away with wearing (or putting on your child) regular tights, then join the club. I always resented skating-tight prices.

So make your holed tights last a bit longer by painting the hole with clear nail varnish as soon as it appears. It will avoid any laddering, and if you ladle enough on will help form a crusty... well, crust, which will make it easier to darn later on.

£35 saved! Yay!

Those we're my 5 everyday products for skating-related penny-pinching!
Do you use household products for skating purposes? If so, we'd love to hear all about it, so please leave a comment on this post so we can all learn from each other!

Until next time, happy skating!

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