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Figure Skating and Ice Skating Injury Prevention

Ice skating involves a combination of grace, balance, and flexibility that are achieved through hours of rigorous training. However, as with any sport, one wrong move while gliding on ice or performing a jump can result in injury. This is why it helps to take note of the common injuries that may arise from figure skating or recreational ice skating, as well as learn some techniques to prevent injury.

Ice Skating Injuries

Recreational and professional skaters are subject to various injuries from falls, collisions, and spins. Among these injuries are the following:

1. Ankle Injury

There are several tendons that run through your ankle, and one of these is the Achilles tendon. This tendon connects the calcaneus with the calf muscle. Figure skaters may suffer from Achilles tendonitis as a result of repetitive jumping and overtraining. Wearing poorly fitted skates can also result in eccentric loading and overuse of the Achilles tendon contributing to injury. Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include swelling and thickening of the tendon accompanied by pain behind the heel.

2. Wrist Injury

A wrist injury can arise from a bad fall when you put your arms out to protect your body during impact. With a fall on an outstretched wrist, a fracture can occur in the scaphoid or the small bone near your thumb bone, as well as the ulna and radius of your forearm, depending on how you brace yourself for the fall.

3. Knee Injury

During spins or jumps, your knees can undergo damage because of the twisting force applied to perform these intricate movements. Knee injuries may include damage to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). An MCL injury can result in pain and swelling on the inside of your knee. This condition can usually be addressed through physical therapy and temporary use of a knee brace.  An ACL injury usually occurs after a twisting injury and may result in joint swelling and instability of the joint. You may need to undergo surgery and physical therapy to recover from this type of injury.

4. Chondromalacia Patella

A sharp blow to the front of the knee during a fall can injure the cartilage behind the kneecap (patella).  If left uncorrected, this condition may cause the break down of the cartilage (chondromalacia) behind the patella and result in pain and swelling with stair climbing and sports activity.  Various sports such as ice skating, skiing, and snowboarding increase your chances of suffering from this condition.

How to Prevent Ice Skating Injuries

To help you enjoy ice skating without compromising your safety, be sure to apply these preventive techniques.

1. Condition your body through proper training.

Allot about 5 minutes for static stretching to enhance muscle flexibility prior to participating in activity. Focus more on your thigh and leg muscles that tend to be overused during ice skating. You may also include conditioning and strengthening exercises to reduce your muscles and tendon’s susceptibility to injury and damage.

2. Wear protective devices.

You need to use protective devices that provide an adequate amount of padding to areas prone to injury such as the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. In addition, your skates should fit perfectly to avoid foot or ankle pains.

3. Check the ice condition.

Before performing your jumps, spins, and elaborate moves, you need to observe the condition of the ice surface. Check for rough ice and debris, check if the Zamboni has come out recently, and if you’re outside make sure the ice is over two inches thick.

Dr. Jeffrey L. Halbrecht is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in the fields of Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery.

Through his 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Halbrecht can provide you with the most suitable treatment for optimal recovery. He and his medical team at the Institute of Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine (IASM) will get you back to your peak performance using state of the art techniques in Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.

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