Monday, September 9, 2013

Hooks and Loops

In my last post, I wrote about the great amount of pharmaceuticals that have become part of my daily life. But there is another thing that has become ubiquitous in my world. Something that I am surprised to find myself using almost daily. Something that I really thought was only needed by the very young or the very old.

No, not diapers.

The amount of Velcro in my life has grown exponentially in the last couple months.

Here’s a little bit of fashion history. Imagine the following paragraph being read in the voice of Tim Gunn.

Velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer after returning from a hunting trip and noticed that the burrs of the burdock plant stuck to his dog. He examined the burrs and noted that they were covered with microscopic hooks that grabbed and held anything with a loop, such as clothing or fur. Eureka! Velcro!

Aside: Isn’t it funny that something so annoying—it has an idiom based on it—can be the inspiration for such a useful tool? One man’s burr under his saddle is this woman’s hook-and-loop fastener.

Velcro—a combination of the French words velours (velvet) and crochet (hook)—received its patent in 1955, but it didn’t gain popularity until NASA used it in spacesuits. Seeing the benefits of an easy closure without zippers, skiers, scuba divers, and eventually the fashion world started using Velcro.

I, however, have had not used much Velcro since I learned to tie my shoes.

Until I started Roller Derby, that is. Here is an overview of the Velcro I don when I skate. Let’s start with the skate itself.

My skate boot has a speed strap that attaches with Velcro over the arch of my foot. Remember the skate anatomy picture in the Loosen your Trucks post? Since I am only to they point in my abilities where I can actually take a lap around the track without falling, I have yet to determine if my speed strap actually does anything to my skating performance. But my boots have them, so I use them to batten down my laces so they will not become undone and trip me.

Another aside: If you are ever so inclined: Google “skate anatomy.” Here is a sample of what you will get. I had forgotten that a skate was a fish in the ray family.

Since the foot bone is connected to the leg bone, let’s head that direction in our Velcro tour. Sometimes when skating, I will use a pair of ankle braces secured by Velcro. I wrap my ankles in these Ace-bandage-like contraptions when I am working on my skating endurance. They help keep my weak-ass ankles from getting too tired.

My kneepads are awesome. They are like little fluffy pillows attached to my knees (with Velcro, natch) just waiting to cushion my inevitable fall. I have been practicing my falling. One-knee falls are a bit harder for me than two-knee falls. Learning to fall correctly is important for two reasons. First, you have to train your body to naturally tuck into itself. This helps you to not get run over by the skater behind you. Second, learning the correct way to fall leads to learning the correct way to get up again. I think we will save the “getting up again” discussion for another post.

I round out my Velcro wardrobe with elbow and wrist pads. They coordinate perfectly with the kneepads. They complete the Derby wardrobe nicely. It doesn't get much bette than the satisfying rip rip of taking these pads off after a hard workout.

Here’s to Velcro, lynchpin of the Derby uniform. For the record, I still can tie my shoes and therefore do not need Velcro sneakers. Yet.

1 comment:

  1. Elys here. Katja posted a wonderful comment that I accidentally deleted. Here it is:

    This is hilarious, because my life has become overly full of Velcro since I started using a wheelchair (almost everything fastened to a wheelchair is kept in place with Velcro).