Ice Skating Foot Safety
When done properly, ice skating looks effortless, a simple glide across a still surface. Even at the Olympics level, the spins look graceful and the jumps appear feather light. Yet the truth is that ice-skating, especially at the higher skill levels of hockey and figure skating, can be very hard on a young skater’s ankles and legs.
In fact, studies have shown that the most frequently injured part of the body for skaters are their feet and ankles. According to Podiatry Today, the most common ankle injury that hockey players suffer is a type of sprain known as dorsiflexion-eversion-external rotation. This sprain usually occurs when a player either catches his blade in a rut and goes down, or he falls and lands awkwardly on his own leg.
As for figure skating, the New York Times reported in 2009 that scientists recorded the force that landing jumps inflicted on a skater's ankles by taping a device to their ankles. They discovered that the impact forces were as high as 90 to 100 G's, which is very substantial. Figure skaters are also prone to lateral ankle sprains, especially when attempting to land difficult jumps.
To prevent injuries, skaters should make sure to only wear skates that fit properly and then to lace them up tightly. Loose or improperly fitted skates can lead to ankle or foot injuries, such as lace bite, which is a tendon irritation. This condition occurs when an improperly fitting boot rubs on the foot and the front of the ankle. In addition, skaters should keep their blades professionally sharpened, which will help minimize falls.
Skaters should also avoid ice surfaces that have not been professionally maintained. Frozen ponds will typically have uneven surfaces, cracks and dangerous debris that could cause a skater to fall. Of course, skaters should always make sure that the ice on a pond or other such surface is at least four to six inches deep before venturing out on it.
Children who suffer mild ankle or foot injuries while skating can possibly be treated by the PRICE method: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. However, if the injury seems more severe or has been going on for a while, the child should be taken to a podiatrist at Academy Foot and Ankle Specialists for treatment and evaluation.