What Are the Most Common Ice Skating Injuries and How Can I Avoid Them?

Written By: Riedell | March 11, 2024

Ice skating is one of those pastimes that people from all walks of life enjoy. There’s something uniquely thrilling about lacing up a pair of skates and gliding across a gleaming sheet of ice, whether in a rink or on your local pond. Yet all the fun and joy we experience while skating doesn’t negate the fact that, like any other physical activity, there are risks associated with ice skating.

Injuries have the potential to occur whenever you move your body, and ice skating has its own set of unique risks and potential injuries. Whether you’re an Olympic or competitive level figure skater or enjoy casually ice skating in your free time, it’s helpful to be aware of the most common ice skating injuries, how they usually occur, and how to avoid them.

How Common Are Ice Skating Injuries?

Even when athletes are well-trained, prepared, and focused, there’s still a risk of injury. The type of injury will vary depending on the experience level of the skater, the condition of the ice, and whether they’re wearing any protective equipment.

Across a skater’s career, it is common to experience an injury, but the type of injury can range from minor to severe. The average age of a person seeking treatment for an ice skating injury is about 33 years old.

Most Common Ice Skating Injuries

Whether a skater is competing at an Olympic level or simply enjoying this sport in their free time, there are two main categories of injuries they’re vulnerable to– traumatic and overuse injuries.

Overuse injuries are the most preventable, while traumatic injuries tend to be the types of accidents that are difficult to predict and prevent. Singles skaters are more likely to experience overuse injuries, while pairs and dance skaters are more prone to traumatic injuries. 

Overuse Injuries:

  • Lace bite (tibialis anterior tendinopathy)
  • Jumper’s knee (patellofemoral syndrome)
  • Bursitis in the ankle
  • Stress fractures to the foot or spine
  • Apophysitis of the knee or hip
  • Muscle strains of the hip
  • Shin splints and medial tibial stress syndrome
  • Tendonitis of the Achilles, patellar, or peroneal tendons

Traumatic Injuries:

  • Head injury and concussion
  • Lacerations
  • Ankle fractures and sprains (more than 50% of figure skaters will experience an ankle sprain)
  • Labral tears of the hip
  • ACL and meniscus tears
  • Dislocation of the shoulder or patella

How to Avoid Ice Skating Injuries

There are three main ways ice skating injuries occur: improper equipment, poor technique, and unpredictable accidents. Sometimes, accidents still occur on the ice even when a skater does everything right. This is what typically leads to traumatic injuries such as a sprained ankle or head injury. 

However, the other main causes of ice skating injuries offer room for prevention. When it comes to technique, skaters need to ensure they’re following the guidance of a professional coach and staying focused when performing. Jumps are notorious for having the potential to cause injuries because the landing impact can generate deceleration forces of up to 100 Gs in adolescent skaters. That force gets transmitted throughout the lower body, particularly the part of the body contacting the ice. Maintaining proper form and technique is essential for preventing injuries.

Aside from that, it’s important to make sure your equipment is in good condition. Skaters need a boot that fits well and isn’t too stiff. Overly stiff boots work similarly to a cast and limit motion at the ankle, which increases the risk of injury in that area.

Skaters should also check their blades regularly to look at their placement and condition. Poorly placed blades can cause the skater to shift more to an outside or inside edge, and blades that are too sharp can cause less experienced skaters to be more susceptible to traumatic injuries due to the tendency for the blade to “pull” the skater.

Along with these technical aspects of avoiding ice skating injuries, there are other ways skaters can help protect themselves:

  • Build strength and fitness off the ice
  • Check the ice surface for signs of rough ice, like chips or gouges
  • Spend 5-10 minutes warming up before putting on your skates
  • Get custom skates fitted by a professional
  • Maintain your skates by adjusting and sharpening the blades as needed
  • Young skaters should avoid learning new elements during growth spurts
  • Practice self-reflection to learn when you’re too fatigued, experiencing pain, or having other difficulties that would make it unsafe for you to practice or perform
  • Never try to “skate through the pain”

Having a general idea of the most common ice skating injuries, their causes, and how to avoid them will help you stay safe and enjoy your time on the ice!

Skate Safely with Riedell

Whether you’re a recreational skater or an athlete with your eyes set on Olympic Gold, Riedell is here to help support your journey. We offer a range of skates and accessories to help you excel and stay safe on the ice.