Figure or Ice Skating Injuries
Article by John Miller
Figure or Ice Skating involves balance, flexibility, strength (the male in a skating duo may have to lift and hold the female skater above his head), explosive power when launching into a jump, and the jarring impact of touch-down from a jump.
Unfortunately, all these can stress the muscles, bones, joints, and skin, and can produce injuries. Such injuries are suffered by both recreational and elite skaters. For the recreational figure skater, injuries happen most commonly due to falling. The impact with the hard ice surface can cause significant bruising.
However, a fall can cause more serious injuries to both the recreational and elite skater. A backward tumble can cause the head to strike the ice. This can produce a concussion. Skaters are advised to tuck their head forward when falling to avoid the brunt of the impact is taken by the shoulders.
Another fairly common injury that occurs as the result of a fall is a wrist injury, which usually occurs when skaters instinctively put out their arms to brace themselves for the impact. A wrist injury can be a relatively mild sprain or a fracture. Fractures (or breaks) can occur in the radius and ulna bones of the forearm, and in a small bone called the scaphoid, which is located near the thumb bone.
Knee injuries can occur in a fall. Usually, the injury is minor, leaving the skater with a sore knee and a bruise. However, a blow can more seriously damage the kneecap, even throwing the kneecap out of alignment. If not corrected by physiotherapy, the patella misalignment can cause progressive damage to the knee and the cartilage that keeps the knee stable. The result is called chondromalacia patellae.
Knees can also be damaged by the twisting force created during jumps or spins. Most commonly, such injury involves the ligaments that properly position the knee joint. Injury to the medial collateral ligament causes pain on the inside of the knee; rest and physiotherapy usually are sufficient for recovery. Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which produces pain at the front of the knee and can make the knee unable to support a skater's weight, can require surgery to correct. Injuries to other joints can occur over time with the repetitive motions and stress of skating. The hip joint is particularly susceptible.
Foot injuries are an ever-present part of figure skating. A skater's feet are tightly secured in a leather or leather-synthetic composite boot, and so bear the brunt of the forces generated during the various motions on the ice. Repetitive stretching of the Achilles tendon located at the heel of the foot can cause injury (Achilles tendinopathy).
Tendonitis that affects the bottom of the feet is called plantar fasciitis.
Tendonitis can also occur in the ankle. The feet can become deformed due to the physical stresses of skating. The most common deformity is a bunion, which is a bulge on a joint of the big toe. The top of the toes can also become calloused, a condition called hammer toes. Both conditions are caused by an improper fitting boot, which allows the foot to move inside the shoe.
The explosive power required to propel a skater upward into a jump puts tremendous pressure on leg and groin muscles. Muscle strains and tears can be a result.
Figure skating injuries have increased in severity since the 1990s. Until then, competitions required skaters to glide in a series of defined patterns to generate shapes that included a circle and a figure-eight. These gentle actions required balance. However, in the 1990s, the figure-carving maneuvers were eliminated from skating competitions and replaced with more physically demanding, and crowd-pleasing jumps and spins. The increased physical stress began to take its toll.
How to Prevent Skating Injuries
Here are some things to help prevent these injuries:
- always warm up and stretch before skating to stretch your muscles so your muscles will not be stiff
- make sure you have proper instruction and training on skills
- make sure you are ready for a skill, mentally and physically, before you try it
- ask your coach whether he/she thinks that you are ready for something
- wear proper attire, tie long hair back, no jewellery, no baggy clothing
- avoid skating when you are injured or exhausted
- have a first aid kit on hand at the facility and be able to use it for minor injuries
- seek professional medical care if you suffer pain or injury.
Common Skating Injuries
Common Treatments for Skating Injuries
FAQs for Skating Injuries
Helpful Products for Skating Injuries
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Last updated 26-Jul-2016 07:20 AM
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