On Thin Ice – Prevent Ice Skating Injuries

As the weather is getting colder and colder, fall and winter sports are picking up.  Eugene isn’t known as being a land of many lakes, but many people find places to ice skate.  Skating rinks are pretty easy to find, and once the weather gets cold enough, ice skating becomes much more common.  And so are ice skating injuries.

Ice skating itself is a pretty simple activity, but it does require that the body move in ways that it isn’t necessarily used to.  For people who prefer activities based on solid land, navigating movement on ice requires a different kind of balance. Even just moving forward or stopping while ice skating is worlds different than walking.  There’s also the clear risk of falls. All of this adds up to an activity that can lead to unexpected aches and pains if you aren’t ready. So what can you do to avoid ice skating injuries?  

How to Prevent Ice Skating Injuries:

  • Get those hips strong – Most ice skates make it so that your ankles are locked in, so your ankles aren’t as helpful as they usually are.  This means that the hips become the body’s best defense against falling. Keep yourself ready by doing some single leg RDLs (picture here) or lateral lunges (picture here).  A good range is 2-4 times a week for 2-4 sets of 8-15.  The last rep should be pretty hard. If it isn’t, try adding some weight.  
  • Work on your balance – The risk of falling with ice skating is pretty clear.  The exercises mentioned above do a pretty good job at developing balance, so they aren’t a bad place to start.  If you want a little more, try some lateral hops (picture here) or even some speed skaters (picture here) to work on controlling your body weight more efficiently.  These can be done 2-4 times a week for 2-4 sets. The big goal here is quality, not quantity, so set a timer for 1-2 minutes and see how many good reps you can do without losing your balance.  
  • Learn how to fall – We don’t tend to think of falling as a skill, but it really is.  Watch any professional sport that involves contact and you’ll see people falling.  In court sports you learn how to slide and in grass/turf sports you learn how to roll.  You should be prepared for the fact that you’re going to fall when ice skating. AARP has an article (found here) that discusses some considerations for falling.  The most applicable tip to ice skating is that you need to go with the fall.  Instead of trying to break your landing, see if you can roll. This requires some quick reactive time, but even a little momentum helps in this case.  If you want to practice this, find a gym that has tumbling mats and you can try practicing falling and rolling. Think of places that instruct gymnastics or martial arts, as they’ll have space and equipment. 

Ice skating can be a blast, but to stay on your feet you need to be balanced and strong.  The risk of ice skating injuries is high, so the more you can do ahead of time to prepare the better off you’re going to be.  

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits. Follow us on Facebook!

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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