Ice skating injuries generally fall into two categories: overuse injuries and traumatic injuries. Ankle sprains, a traumatic injury, are the most common ice skating injury overall for figure skaters, while patellar tendinitis is seen most frequently across all skating disciplines. Female singles figure skaters are the most vulnerable to stress fractures resulting from overuse.
Looking to skate safely this winter? There’s a lot you can do to prevent ice skating injuries, from proper conditioning to getting the right ice skating gear. Our guide covers what you need to know to enjoy your time on the ice!
Ice skating injuries due to overuse tend to involve damage or irritation of tendons in the foot, ankle, and shin. For recreational skaters, figure skaters, and ice hockey players, the majority of common acute ice skating injuries occur after a fall or a collision.
Most Common Overuse Ice Skating Injuries
Jumper’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome)
Apophysitis of the knee or hip
Bursitis in the ankle
Lace bite (tibialis anterior tendinopathy)
Stress fractures to the foot or spine
Shin splints and medial tibial stress syndrome
Tendonitis of the Achilles, patellar, or peroneal tendons
Muscle strains of the hip
Most Common Traumatic Ice Skating Injuries
Ankle fractures and sprains
Head injury and concussion
Labral tears of the hip
Dislocation of the shoulder or patella
ACL and meniscal tears
Preventing Ice Skating Injuries
Whether you’re a competitive figure skater, playing on an ice hockey team, or skating for fun on the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, many ice skating injuries can be avoided with the proper precautions:
Build core strength and fitness off the ice
Spend 5 to 10 minutes warming up before putting on your skates
Consider off-ice training with a harness to learn new jumps
Young skaters should avoid learning new elements during growth spurts
Have your skates fitted by a professional
Maintain your skates by adjusting and sharpening the blades as needed
Check the ice surface for chips or gouges
Be honest about your fatigue level in order to avoid overtraining
Avoid skating while in pain
See a physician or physical therapist if pain persists
If you do need to recover from an ice skating injury, we have trained physical therapists in Central Illinois and the Chicagoland area. Our South Loop location is just a few minutes’ drive from the skating ribbon.
Best Ice Skating Gear for Staying Safe in the Rink
As we mentioned above, some ice skating injuries can be avoided with the proper gear. Here’s what to look for when you invest in ice skating gear:
Work with a professional who can assess the right boot and boot stiffness rating for your body type and skill level.
Higher-level boots are generally stiffer than boots suited for beginners, and choosing a boot that’s too stiff for your skill level can result in injury.
Recreational boots should have a support rating of between 15-20, but you should consider a stiffer boot rated between 20 and 30 if you’re taking figure skating lessons.
Blade placement is key to a pair of quality skates if you plan to spend any amount of time on the ice.
Poor blade placement can cause you to skate more toward the inside or outside of the blade, which reduces stability and can make it easier to fall.
Advanced skaters will typically want sharper blades for finer control of their movements, but less experienced skaters should be wary of putting on a pair of skates that are too sharp.
The sharper blades that allow advanced movements also tend to catch on the ice in certain positions, which could startle an inexperienced skater and lead to a fall.
Protective Ice Skating Gear
Helmets, knee pads, and wrist splints are a must when playing ice hockey, but they’re not a bad idea for recreational skaters either.
You should look for protective gear you’ll want to wear and keep wearing on the ice, so look for comfortable gear that’s practical for your skating.
Stay Safe On the Rink With IMPACT Physical Therapy