How to Prevent the Most Common Inline Skating Injuries
Inline skating is very popular among people of all ages, but especially among children and teenagers. It offers more freedom in movement than riding a bicycle and also a considerable speed. For this reason, a lot of people use it as a means of doing sports, having fun, and getting quickly from one point to another without the hassle of taking the car or the bike.
However, many people who practice inline skating are prone to accidents – these accidents being quite prevalent among novices. Statistics say that out of the most serious inline skating injuries which ended in the ER, 14% are suffered by beginners who do not yet master the art of swerving or stopping their inline skates properly.
What Kind of Injuries Are Involved in Inline Skating?
By far, the wrists are the most exposed body parts to injury while inline skating. This is generally due to the fact that the natural instinct when you trip while skating is to put your hands forward to break the fall. A research study conducted by the Medical Clinic and Polyclinic, Department of Sports Medicine, University of Tubingen, Germany showed that the overall percentage of injuries in inline skating is:
- 38% to the shoulders, arms and torso;
- 31% to the legs;
- 21% to the pelvis and hips, and
- 10% to the head.
Understanding these statistics is important, because it shows the mechanics of injuries and helps us become more aware of the dangers. For example, although the head injuries have the smallest proportion in the above percentages, they also tend to be the most severe. For this reason, you should always wear a protective helmet, even if the statistics say you are the least likely to injure your head.
What Are the Best Ways of Preventing Inline Skating Injuries?
There are no specific injuries or conditions related to this sport – injuries are strictly related to accidents. For this reason, our list of tips will refer to the prevention of such accidents, rather than the prevention of specific injuries.
- Beginners Should Practice on Special Lanes
There are special lanes for inline skating in parks and sports facilities. These are the ideal places to practice until you master your skating technique. The lanes are smooth, in a straight line and with very wide curves, helping you learn how to advance forward, swerve and stop. There is no pedestrian or bike traffic on these lanes, so you will be able to concentrate on skating itself without fear of accidents.
- Wear Protective Gear All the Time
Accidents can happen even to seasoned inline skaters. A sudden bump in the road, a person unexpectedly appearing in front of you are enough to cause you to fall down. The most common items of protective gear are the helmet and the knee, elbow and palm pads. If you take part in a high speed skating race, you should also wear a mouthpiece to protect your teeth in case of a violent impact with another competitor.
Apart from these protective items, inline skaters are recommended to wear long sleeve shirts and full length trousers in order to minimise the amount of cuts and bruises in case of an accident.
- Learn How to Fall
This is one of the first lessons an inline skate trainer would give to all beginners. Learning how to fall safely is a must if you want to reduce the extent of your injuries. The best way to fall, when it is inevitable, is on your sides – right or left. Falling backwards should be avoided at all costs because you could injure your spine or neck. When you fall forward, do not lock your elbows, but let the shock travel up your arms and along the muscles. This will avoid a serious wrist sprain, or even a fracture of the metacarpal bones.
- Warm up Before Skating
Warming up should be done in two sessions: the first before you put on your inline skates, and the second with your skates on, before you start gaining speed and swerving. For the first part of the warm-up, you should focus on flexibility by doing a series of stretches. For the second part, assess your range of movements, practice various stops (in a curve, all of a sudden, at various speeds) and build up momentum gradually.
- Keep a Close Eye on Your Surroundings
Once you leave the sanctuary of specially designed lanes for skating, anything could happen. For this reason, you must be very careful at what is ahead of you and around you, navigate carefully in traffic, never skate behind a car or a bike, and pay special attention to the potential bumps and irregularities in the road.