Winter isn’t nearly behind us yet here in the Pacific Northwest, which means you still have plenty of time to adopt a new wintertime hobby to get you off the couch, out of the house, and expand your horizons. Ice skating is a fun and challenging activity that is perfect for families, couples, and friends of all ages. Before you lace up your skates, review our ice skating safety tips below. While we value our patients, we’d rather not see you in one of our urgent care centers with a nasty sprain or strain.
- Wear a Helmet. Every year about 50 out of every 100,000 Americans suffer a concussion—an immediate and brief loss of consciousness followed by temporary amnesia after a blow to the head. You wear a helmet to ride your bike, rollerblade, or skateboard (we hope!), so why wouldn’t you wear a helmet when you strap blades to your feet and glide across the ice? Ask your neighborhood ice rink if they have helmets for rent. If not, bring your own. Make sure it fits snug, and don’t obsess over what it will do to your hair. What’s most important is that you avoid a potentially dangerous concussion if you slip and fall.
- Ensure Your Skates Fit Properly. Whether you are buying, borrowing, or renting ice skates, make sure they fit comfortably. Be like Goldilocks and choose skates that are neither too tight, nor too large. A good-fitting pair of ice skates should support your ankles and feet.
- Practice Falling. Seriously. Broken, strained, cut, and dislocated arms are among the most common ice skating-related injuries. Before you step onto the ice, take a few purposeful drops to the ground so that you can practice how to brace yourself. Your goal should be to protect your head and to keep your limbs away from sharp skate blades. Consider wearing wrist pads to make it easier to grip the ice and keep your arms from sliding out from beneath you.
- Check Your Blades. Dull ice skate blades put you at a higher risk of a fall, and trust us when we say that a broken coccyx (tailbone) can be extremely painful. A reputable ice skating rink will keep their rental skates in proper condition, but it is always a good practice to check your skates yourself. Properly sharpened blades should have a slight curve. If your blades appear flat, exchange them.
- Keep a Space Cushion Around You. Novice skaters can put those around them at risk by grabbing onto them if they start to fall. If you’re a newbie, try not to skate too close to others around you. The last thing you want to do is be the cause of a painful injury for someone else.
If you want to head out for an evening of ice skating that will make you feel like you’re living in a Hallmark original movie, then make sure you take precautions to skate safely. Even though what’s terrific about ice skating is that anyone can do it, don’t take the safety realities for granted. Gear up, stay aware and be safe out there, skaters.