Watching talented Olympians figure skating across our screens this season has inspired many to lace up a pair of skates and give the sport a try themselves. But, just because the trained athletes competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics can execute that move, does not mean you can or should attempt it! If you want to perform jaw dropping axels and entrancing layback spins, you will need to start small and work your way up to those skills, typically with the help of a coach. But, you can still enjoy the wonder grace of gliding across the ice as a recreational ice skater!
Ice skating is a beautiful sport that, with regular practice, can help maintain balance and physical health as you age. However, it is not without its risks. About 1 in 700 recreational ice skaters will experience some form of injury, with the average age of those injured being approximately 33yrs old. Most of these injuries occur during falls on the ice, due to inexperience, slippery surfaces, and the poor alignment and fit of rental skates.
It is important to know the proper way to fall on the ice, to lessen the chance of injury, before you even lace up your skates. If you are skating and feel yourself losing balance and suspect you are going to fall, slowly bend your knees and shift your weight towards one side of your glute muscles. This will ensure that you fall on a more padded area of your body. Do not try to use your toe pick to stop! While you are falling, keep your arms in tight to your body, waving them to regain balance only increases risk of injury.
So what happens if you fall? Many times, nothing will happen and you will be able to pick yourself right back up and continue skating! But, the occasional accident can happen, and it is good to be prepared. The most common injury for a recreational ice skater is an upper body fracture. These upper body fractures occur when a skater puts their hand out to brace their fall. The most common type of upper body fracture in recreational ice skating is a distal radius (wrist) fracture. Another form of fracture that results from bracing oneself for a fall is a radial head and neck fracture, which is located at the elbow joint. If you fall and suspect you have injured your wrist or elbow due to the way you braced yourself, seek medical attention immediately, it could be a fracture! Wrist fractures will be more easy to identify without an x-ray, but both should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible.
When you ice skate, your boots should be laced up as tight as possible to provide proper support. You should not be able to fit more than two fingers between the laces and the tongue of the boot. If your boots are properly laced, there is not much risk of twisting an ankle or fracture; however, because of the restricted mobility you may experience some muscle stiffness and soreness. If you do not lace up your skates properly, you are at risk of spraining your ankle or developing tendon inflammation, stress fractures, or other more serious injuries. If you plan on skating a few times a year, it may be worth it to invest in a pair of your own skates, to lessen discomfort and stress on certain muscle groups, and improve overall alignment of your lower extremities on the ice.
While less likely to occur, head traumas are still important to note. Head traumas, like concussions, account for about 0.5% of ice skating injuries, typically as the result of a fall that was not properly directed, or if a group crashes into each other on the ice. With all head traumas, you should immediately seek medical attention and be examined by a doctor. Do not fall asleep for 24hrs. Do not expose yourself to too much light and sound, and limit screen time and cognitive tasks while you recover.
If you have gone skating and find that you are sore, but not injured, epsom salt baths are highly recommended by most professional athletes for relieving sore muscles. Any specific points of pain, like a sore ankle or sprained wrist, should be treated with R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. And a nice cup of hot chocolate never hurts!
Go out and enjoy your recreational ice skating safely this season! Take your kids, friends, partners, and experience the freedom and bliss of gliding across the ice on a beautiful day. In the event you do find yourself facing an injury as a result of your skating activities, Reboundwear’s adaptive clothing line is an excellent choice for comfort and style during your recovery.