My goal is to provide you with a good insight into the world of skate blade re-shaping. For those of you that are seeking information so that you can make an educated decision as to what contouring system best suits your requirements, this should be quite enlightening. For those of you that are working in the industry, be it a pro shop, retail, team equipment technician or working from your home, this copyrighted text will be a valuable learning tool. Please bear in mind that various systems deliver various results. What worked 20, 30 or 40 years ago doesn't mean it works effectively today. As well, automation plays an integral role in our lives assembling the things we use on a daily basis, but you still need a "humans touch" and thought process to sort out all the variables that affect our desired outcome. Most manufacturers of contouring equipment try to keep things as much a mystery as possible, while some training services use the old "smoke and mirrors" theory where they try to boggle your mind with useless rhetoric and complicated procedures in an effort to make them selves and their systems look better than they actually are. Done properly, contouring is a very straight forward procedure and will remove most of the inherent variables that abound in skates and skating in general. I will keep things very easy to understand and uncomplicated. No "smoke and mirrors" or "misconceptions" here, just straight talk that is logical, makes sense and is backed up by over 50 years of experience in the industry.
Rockering, contouring, and profiling.
Rockering, contouring, blade shaping, profiling... these are just a few of the more common names given to the re-shaping of skate blades and has been around for eons. Rockering is probably one of the most common names used when referring to the re-shaping of skate blades. The term "Rockering" came into existence in the 50's and was used to describe the process of altering the blade shape on "Tube Skates". (more on tube skates later. The term "Contouring" became more recognized after I introduced it in the mid 90's and has become the most used term since then. At the end of the "Myths" section I will go into great detail explaining the process, its evolution and the how's and why's of what actually works, and what doesn't. Please take the time to learn about the human body and its balance characteristics and traits by reading about "True Balance Dynamics" below.
True Balance Dynamics
True Balance Dynamics – John Lake All things in the natural world, from the incredibly vast to the infinitesimally small, move in a dynamic balance. The innate tendency of all movement in nature is toward equilibrium, an inborn return to balance should there be a disruption. Natural systems left uninterrupted are self-adjusting, their innate capabilities keep things in balance should a disruptive event occur. The human body also operates in dynamic balance. The innate capabilities of the body are constantly making adjustments to keep the body in balance (when energy is low we feel hungry and eat to restore the balance, when we have taxed our body enough it craves rest so we sleep to restore the balance, when we overheat the body sweats to cool us and restore the balance, etc.). But the most overlooked, and perhaps the singularly most important balance the human entity needs to maintain is the actual physical balance of the body itself, that is, the anatomical positioning and postural alignment of the body. The important point is this. Once the body's natural postural balance is disrupted, even to a slight degree, not only is the inherent strength and efficiency of motion the body possesses greatly reduced but also postural misalignment which becomes habitual inevitably leads to physical problems (including back pain, pain in the joints, loss of strength and flexibility, sagging breasts, protruding abdomens which cause a displacement of the internal organs as well as pressure on the heart and lungs...). Why do so many things go wrong when one is out of postural balance? The answer is gravity. From the moment we are born; we are under gravity's influence. Standing, sitting or lying down, in motion or at rest, we never escape its effects. However, the human body is designed to function problem free in the gravitational field. Problems usually arise when the body is out of balance. When one stands or moves out of balance one must constantly "fight" gravity rather than flowing through it. Imagine for a moment a telephone pole balanced perfectly upright on the ground. Not only could you steady it with two fingers, it would feel weightless. But what would happen if the pole tilted even slightly off center? The pull of gravity would cause the pole to feel immensely heavy, and no matter how strong you were you could not keep it from falling. The same principle can be applied to the human body. When held balanced there is no strain, all the muscles are in tune (relaxed, neither too tense nor too slack). The chest is open so the heart and lungs have ample space without pressure, the stomach wall is in tone so there is no sag and the organs are held in proper position. The spine is aligned and there is no strain. One feels light and comfortable and movement seems effortless. But once balance is lost, the "fight" against gravity begins. The body is not meant to fight against gravity, it is designed to be balanced within the gravitational field. This balance is not static but rather dynamic, and functions constantly and effortlessly if it is allowed to. I emphasize the words "'allowed to" because no amount of conscious posture holding or straining to "stand up straight" will ever achieve the goal of true balance. Besides removing the source of much physical suffering, true postural balance will allow the individual to reach his or her absolute peak performance in any physical endeavor. When out of balance the body cannot perform at its best. Imbalance causes excessive tension in some muscles and excess slack in others, which destroys the integrity of body motion and impedes physical performance. Another point worthy of attention is that exercise done in improper postural alignment can be and often is actually harmful, because it can magnify the existing stress of misalignment. Rather than being beneficial. But on the positive side, even very simple exercise done in true postural balance can be very beneficial, which amounts to large gains for little effort.