Ice Skating

Ice Skating Injuries


Article by John Miller


Ice Skating Injuries

Figure skating or ice skating requires balance, flexibility, strength (to lift and a skater above their head), explosive power when launching into a jump, and the jarring impact of touch-down from a jump.

Unfortunately, all these actions can stress the muscles, bones, joints, and skin and cause injuries. Both recreational and elite skaters experience such injuries. The most common injuries for recreational figure skaters occur due to falling. The hard ice surface can cause significant bruising upon impact.

However, a fall can result in more severe injuries for recreational and elite skaters. The head can strike the ice during a backward tumble, causing a concussion. Skaters should tuck their head forward when falling to avoid taking the brunt of the impact on the shoulders.

A wrist injury is also relatively common. It usually occurs when skaters instinctively brace themselves for impact by putting out their arms. A wrist injury can range from a relatively mild sprain to a wrist fracture. Fractures (or breaks) can occur in the forearm’s radius and ulna bones, as well as in a small bone near the thumb, the scaphoid.

Knee injuries can occur from falls. Typically, the injury is minor, resulting in a sore knee and a bruise. However, a blow can cause more significant damage, such as misalignment of the kneecap. If not corrected through physiotherapy, patella misalignment can lead to progressive damage to the knee and its stabilising cartilage, resulting in chondromalacia patellae.

Jumps or spins can create twisting forces that damage the knees. The most common injury in such cases involves the ligaments responsible for positioning the knee joint correctly. Injury to the medial collateral ligament causes pain on the inside of the knee. Protection and physiotherapy are usually sufficient for recovery. Damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which causes pain at the front of the knee and impairs weight-bearing ability, may require corrective surgery. Skating’s repetitive motions and stress can also lead to injuries in other joints, with the hip joint, particularly susceptible.

Foot injuries are a constant concern in ice skating. Tightly secured skaters’ feet within a leather or leather-synthetic composite boot bear the brunt of the forces generated during various movements on the ice. Repetitive stretching of the Achilles tendon located at the heel can result in injury, known as Achilles tendinopathy.

Fasciopathy affecting the bottom of the feet is called plantar fasciitis. Ankle tendinopathy can also occur. Skating’s physical stresses can cause foot deformities. The most common deformity is a bunion, a bulge on the big toe joint. The top of the toes can become calloused, a condition called hammer toes. Improper-fitting boots that allow the foot to move inside the shoe are the likely culprit.

The explosive power required to propel a skater upward into a jump exerts tremendous pressure on the leg and groin muscles, often resulting in muscle strains and tears.

Since the 1990s, figure skating injuries have increased in severity. Until then, competitions required skaters to glide in a series of defined patterns, creating shapes such as a circle and a figure-eight. These gentle actions emphasised balance. However, in the 1990s, skating competitions replaced figure-carving manoeuvres with more physically demanding jumps and spins that please the crowd. The increased physical stress began to take its toll.

To prevent skating injuries, here are some recommended measures:

  • Always warm up and stretch before skating to loosen your muscles and prevent stiffness.
  • Receive proper instruction and training for skills.
  • Ensure you are mentally and physically ready before attempting a skill.
  • Consult your coach to assess your readiness for a particular skill.
  • Wear appropriate attire, tie back long hair, and avoid wearing jewellery or baggy clothing.
  • Refrain from skating when injured or exhausted.
  • Seek professional medical care if you experience pain or injury.


In conclusion, figure and ice skating pose inherent risks and can result in various injuries due to the physical demands involved. Falls, concussions, wrist injuries, knee damage, foot ailments, and muscle strains are common among skaters. To mitigate these risks, skaters should prioritise warm-up and stretching, receive proper training, assess readiness for new skills, wear appropriate attire, avoid skating when injured or exhausted, have a first aid kit available, and seek professional medical care for pain or injury. By adopting these preventive measures, skaters can enjoy the beauty of these sports while minimising the likelihood of injuries and ensuring long-term enjoyment.

If you require assistance with ice skating injuries, please contact us at PhysioWorks.


Article by Zoe Russell

Sports Physiotherapy FAQs

Sports Physiotherapist Brisbane

Sports Physiotherapy is the specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to spokespeople. Practitioners with additional formal training within Australia are Sports & Exercise Physiotherapists.

What is Sports Physiotherapy?

Sports injuries do differ from common everyday injuries. Athletes usually require high-level performance and demands placed upon their bodies, which stresses their muscles, joints and bones to the limit. Sports physiotherapists help athletes recover from sporting injuries and provide education and resources to prevent problems. Each sports physiotherapist usually has sport-specific knowledge that addresses acute, chronic and overuse injuries. Their services are generally available to sportsmen and women of all ages engaged in sports at any level of competition.

Members of Sports Physiotherapy Australia (SPA) have experience and knowledge of the latest evidence-based practice, professional assessment and diagnosis of sports injuries, and effective hands-on management techniques and exercise protocols to assist recovery and prevent future damage. SPA members have access to the most recent advances in sports physiotherapy. You'll be pleased to know that most PhysioWorks physiotherapists and massage therapists are particularly interested in sports injury management.

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To provide valuable insights into the management of common muscle injuries, this guide offers answers to frequently asked questions and suggests products that can aid in your recovery. Access additional information about each specific injury by clicking the provided links.

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Ligament injuries are common in the human body, often causing pain, discomfort, and limitations in mobility.

Various body parts are prone to ligament injuries, such as the knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, hand, and spine. Among the most prevalent are knee ligament injuries, which include ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries, as well as MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) sprains.

In addition, ligament injuries can affect other areas, such as the shoulder, leading to AC (Acromioclavicular) joint injuries and dislocated shoulders. Wrist and hand ligament injuries, including thumb and finger sprains, are also common. Furthermore, ligament injuries can occur in the spine, resulting in back and neck sprains and conditions like "text neck" and whiplash. Understanding these common ligament injuries is essential for prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment, enabling individuals to regain their functionality and resume their daily activities.

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