Unlike in many aspects of your life, there is a 100% guarantee that you will get hurt while roller skating.
If you already started, then you know how much of a risky undertaking this sport and hobby is. The thought of getting hurt crosses every skater’s mind at some point but is more common in beginners. None of us want to get hurt, but unfortunately, it’s the name of the game.
Luckily, there are strategies to minimize or prevent serious injuries when roller skating.
Table of Contents Hide
- How dangerous is roller skating?
- What are the most common types of roller skating injuries?
- How do you avoid getting injured?
- Can roller skating make you sore?
- Can roller skating cause shin splints?
- Is roller skating bad for your back?
- Is roller skating bad for your knees?
- What do you do if you get injured?
How dangerous is roller skating?
New and veteran skaters alike are susceptible to roller skating injuries. It is a natural part of participating in the sport. Like any other physical activity, you take on this risk when you start roller skating.
The danger in roller skating lies in the fact that you can hurt yourself in many ways, even with safety precautions in mind.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 86% of injuries were severe and that the wrist was the most commonly injured, with the shoulder, elbow, and ankle following suit.
In most cases, these nasty falls are due to loss of balance, inability to stop, or an obstacle/moving hazard. During these times, skaters are usually tired, can’t see very well, fall victim to hazardous road conditions, or lose control.
While roller skating is dangerous, it shouldn’t be feared because there are ways for you to actively prevent injury as you will soon find out.
What are the most common types of roller skating injuries?
Head injuries often happen when a skater’s weight suddenly shifts too backward or forward, causing them to fall and hit their head, sometimes resulting in a concussion.
This is more common in beginners who don’t have proper body posture when skating and end up overcorrecting their shift in balance.
To avoid hitting your head, make sure to have proper posture: bend your knees, bring your chin up, tighten your core, and shift your weight from side to side as you skate.
However, if it’s already too late and you realize that you are going to fall backwards on your head, try your best to tuck your chin into your chest. This will help you avoid any major impact to the back of your head.
At the end of the day, most (if not all) of this can be avoided if you wear a helmet.
Tailbone (coccyx) fracture
While no injury is fun to deal with, tailbone fractures can be super uncomfortable if you have them. Because of its location, there’s no way to hold it in place, unlike injuries to your limbs. Usually, treatment entails keeping you comfortable with pain medication, icing, and protective pillows while the injury heals.
Tailbone fractures are often a result of skaters falling directly on their butt.
This can happen if the skater is flailing their arms around too much while skating, especially if they feel unstable. They try to save themselves with their arms, but they don’t realize that this movement is causing them to be more unstable and has the potential to shift their body too far back.
Your arms should just be by your sides.
There is no reason for them to be extended anywhere else. Again, proper body posture is the best prevention method in this case as well. If you want to be extra cautious, there are padded shorts made to avoid this kind of injury.
When we fall, we are naturally pre-programmed to catch ourselves with our hands. However, this can be dangerous for your wrists in a sport like roller skating.
Instead, you want to learn how to fall properly.
If you are going to fall, try to fall on the side of your thighs. These are the most comfortable part of your body to fall on. Sometimes you can’t help but fall on your wrists, like in situations where you trip forward from something getting caught in your wheels. In this case, you have to embrace the fall. When you inevitably fall on your wrists, bend your elbows so that your wrists don’t absorb all of that shock. To help prevent wrist injuries when outdoors skating, you should pick up your feet more. Avoid rolling heavily in areas with more debris.
Wrist guards will also help you tremendously.
How do you avoid getting injured?
Even though roller skating can be unpredictable, you can prepare for the unexpected by taking precautions now. This article is a great start to get prepared mentally, but what about when you’re actually skating? You should keep in mind the following:
Well, first things first, you need your safety gear.
At a minimum, you should be wearing a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and wrist guards.
These items are essential to prevent the most severe roller skating injuries. You may feel silly wearing them, especially if no one else is at the skatepark, but you will thank yourself later if you are ever in the face of danger.
When shopping for gear, there are some things you should be looking out for:
Skaters often opt for the skate helmet because it provides overall better protection for your noggin. Its inner lining is made of foam for optimal impact absorption, and it also covers the back of your head.
Ensure that the helmet fits snug, sits low on your forehead, and won’t move while roller skating.
Because wrist injuries are prevalent in roller skating, we want to do everything we can to prevent them.
Wrist guards are designed to take the impact from falls and divert the energy away from the wrists.
You’ll find that wrist guards come in Level 1 or 2 protective pads. Guards with a Level 1 rating partially protect against impact, provide comfortable padding, offer support, and are suited for all levels.
Level 2 guards offer maximum protection and are recommended for beginners.
Elbow and knee pads
Other than your wrists, you are more likely to injure your elbows or knees in a fall.
Like wrist guards, elbow and knee pads are divided into Level 1 and Level 2 categories. Level 1 pads provide partial protection and can be used by anyone regardless of their level. Level 2 pads are meant for high-impact activities like aggressive skating.
They cover a larger area and offer maximum protection. Sometimes skaters will have difficulty moving around in them due to how bulky they are.
Get the right pair of skates
Along the same lines as gear, you can better ensure your safety if you find skates that properly fit.
The general rule of thumb is to get one size larger than your regular shoe size.
This doesn’t always apply to some situations but is a good starting point. Ideally, the skates fit snug around your feet and don’t feel loose.
Find a safe location
Finding the right place is just as important as finding the right gear.
Beginners should opt for areas that are free from obstacles, such as indoor rinks or empty parking lots.
In the initial stages of learning to skate, it is often recommended to start on grass so that it can cushion any falls.
On the other hand, outdoor skating can be trickier. Ideally, you want to find a location that is blocked off and isolated from traffic to avoid bumping into people, cars, or other obstacles. You might also want to factor in timing into your decision.
Avoid skating at night as it can be too dark for you to see other people and obstacles.
Learn to fall
Falling safely is one of the first skills you should learn as a beginner. While you can’t anticipate or practice all types of falling situations, it helps to get into the right mindset and equip yourself with the proper strategies to fall safely.
First, you should face your fear of falling head-on by practicing it on soft ground like grass or carpet.
After some practice, you’ll find that falling is not as scary as you hyped it up to be. Then, experiment with ways to fall. The safest and least painful part of your body to fall on is the side of your thighs, so try to practice falling in this position.
Again, you won’t always be in the perfect position to land on your side, but going through this exercise will help you be better able to cope in future situations.
Correct your posture
One of the biggest reasons beginners get hurt is because they don’t have the correct body posture. They first approach skating as if it were like walking. Their knees are stick straight, and their feet are skating in a straight line.
There is nothing wrong with this initially, but it should be corrected as soon as possible. Incorrect posture can lead to bad habits and even more injuries down the line.
Proper body posture involves bent knees, a tight core, arms to the sides, straight shoulders, and chin up.
Don’t get too ahead of yourself
When watching more advanced skaters, you’re most likely in awe of their skills. You’ll also get excited at the prospect of performing them yourself one day.
But hold off on this urge until you’ve learned the skills needed to perform high-level tricks. This could save you from hurting yourself trying to attempt new tricks you’re not yet ready for.
Get some help
Most skaters learn to skate without proper training, but this can result in some hard-earned lessons that could have easily been avoided.
If possible, try to enroll in formal lessons or befriend more experienced skaters who can help guide you on your skating journey.
Professionals and experienced skaters better understand the technicalities underlying skating techniques and will help you avoid mistakes.
Sometimes you’ll want to tune out the world and listen to a good playlist as you’re skating. This is okay in some situations but should be avoided in a busy outdoor environment.
Headphones or earbuds prevent you from hearing traffic noise or people’s voices around you, which is crucial to keeping you and others safe while skating in the streets.
Can roller skating make you sore?
Another guarantee in roller skating is that you will be in pain the day after you first skate, and not necessarily from an injury. However, there is no need to be alarmed.
What you have or will be experiencing is muscle soreness, which is normal at the beginning of your skating journey.
You will be using muscles that you haven’t used before and working out your body in ways that you aren’t normally used to. If you are just starting to roller skate without working out before, you might have a rough couple of days following your first session.
It can feel discouraging at first, but don’t give up!
This type of pain is a good thing and will reoccur if you decide to try different skating styles.
To relieve the pain, it helps to stretch out your muscles, apply menthol patches, ice it, massage, and bathe in Epsom salts.
Can roller skating cause shin splints?
“Shin splints” is the pain you experience along your shin bone due to overuse from physical activity.
Symptoms include tenderness, swelling, soreness, or pain along the lower legs. It is a common condition among athletes, particularly runners and dancers.
Unlike other sports, roller skating is low-impact and is not likely to cause shin splints. If it does, then there may be a problem with posture or technique. Usually, bending your knees will help absorb some of the shock from the ground that is going up your leg.
It helps to stretch, roll your shins out with a foam roller, and do strengthening exercises when you’re not skating to prevent or manage any pain.
If it persists, take a look at your skates. Wheels that are too soft or badly-fitted skates can force your muscles to overcompensate and injure your shins.
Don’t make the mistake of pushing through the pain like many skaters do. There is a reason that your body is in pain, and the problem should be addressed sooner rather than later.
Is roller skating bad for your back?
Roller skating is not bad for your back as long as you use the right techniques like proper body posture. In fact, it can help strengthen your back and improve your back pain over time.
Lower back pain is normal when you’re starting out since you’re working out back muscles you’ve never used before, you have weak core muscles, and you might not have your posture figured out yet. This is a hump that every new skater has to get over for the first few months.
You can help reduce the strain by stretching your legs and back after every skate session and making a conscious effort to relax your lower back while skating.
Is roller skating bad for your knees?
Because it is a low-impact sport, roller skating knee injuries are pretty rare unless you fall on your knees without kneepads on.
Even skaters with knee injuries look to roller skating as an avenue for a good workout to further strengthen and stabilize their knees. Sometimes, knee pain can happen if your knees are locked, a common mistake that beginners make.
Keeping the knees bent and strengthening your legs will be key to preventing possible knee pain or injury.
What do you do if you get injured?
Oh no! You just got injured, and you’re wondering what to do next. Usually, the discussion on roller skating injuries ends at the injuries themselves, but no one ever talks about the aftermath.
What do you do if you get injured? Here are some things you should consider:
1. Stop and evaluate your situation
While you might be initially more focused on your injury, try to take some time to assess yourself and your surroundings.
The goal is to put yourself in the safest situation possible.
If you are bleeding, lightheaded, or a potential obstacle for others, act quickly so that you give the best chance to get treated or get out of the way.
Although this may seem like common sense, it’s not always the priority when it happens to us in the moment.
2. Stop skating
Sometimes we develop this tendency to look tough as skaters, but this should be put aside if we are dealing with a serious injury.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Continuing to skate can worsen your current injury and even make you more vulnerable to new ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from others as well.
3. Get checked by a doctor
As skaters, we’re used to getting hurt. For the most part, we usually brush off most injuries and become pretty good at ignoring them. But with more severe injuries, this trait can be to our detriment.
If you feel that even one injury seems a little off, try to get yourself to a doctor as soon as possible.
What you mistake for a sprain could very well be a fracture. Pushing off a doctor’s visit could prolong your healing and even further worsen your injury.
It is better to be safe than sorry.
4. Reach out to the roller skating community
Your fellow roller skaters will understand you more than anyone else.
We’ve all been there!
And many of us are more than willing to help you get connected to the right resources or give you the support you need to get you healthy and back on your skates again.
5. Let it all out
Although not talked about enough, getting injured in roller skating can be an emotional rollercoaster no matter who you are.
Whether you’re feeling sad, frustrated, or angry, give yourself the chance to feel those emotions and let them all out. You can do this by reaching out to other trusted people or an outlet of your choice.
It’s important to make sure that your mental health is in tip-top shape while you are decapacitated because it will help you get through it all.
Getting injured can take a lot out of you.
Take however long you need to recuperate. Make sure to rest so that you can further facilitate your healing.
7. Gradually start moving around again
Once you start feeling good again, it’s time to start getting a move on.
You don’t need to do anything crazy just yet.
You should begin to stretch and move your body around except for areas that your doctor has advised you not to move.
8. Listen to your body
I decided to add one more tip – listen to your body!
You know your body the best. During such a sensitive time, it is more crucial than ever for you to be in tune with yourself.
If something isn’t feeling right, don’t do it! You will heal on your own timeline.
Roller skating is dangerous. There’s no doubt about that. Everyone who comes into the sport doesn’t leave unscathed.
Getting hurt is a part of the learning process, but you want to avoid getting severely injured.
Common roller skating injuries include concussions, head injuries, tailbone fractures, and wrist fractures/sprains/strains.
While it might seem intimidating to learn, it is important for you to know of the worst-case scenario so you can avoid it. Some active measures you can take to ensure your safety are to wear fitting and protective gear, skate in safe locations, learn to fall, and correct your posture.
For most of the injuries we’ve discussed here, correcting your body posture is the most common theme among them. If you are in the correct stance, you can avoid most injuries, given that you’ve taken all safety precautions.
When you do get injured, make sure to take care of yourself first by getting out of harm’s way and going to the doctor’s. Too many skaters make the mistake of continuing to roller skate after an injury, but this does more harm than good.
More importantly, listen to your body in the mental, emotional, and physical realms.
Healing from a roller skating injury can take a toll on all of these aspects, and we want to make sure that you are happy and healthy next time you step into your skates.