Figure Skating Injuries: Treatment and Prevention
Behind every elegant, effortless figure skating routine are countless hours of practice. In many figures, this leads to either the development of overuse injuries or the occurrence of traumatic ones. Below are common practices used to treat and prevent such injuries.
Injuries in Figure Skaters
Figure skaters are at increased risk for sustaining the following injuries:
Muscle strain in the front or outer areas of the shin, also known as shin splints, are a potential side effect of excessive figure skater training. Symptoms of shin splints include pain, tenderness, and swelling in the lower legs. Treating shin splints may require physical therapy, rest, and a modified training routine.
In figure skaters, stress fractures most frequently occur in the lower body and spine. This type of overuse injury appears in these athletes due to frequent jumping and landing — but may also develop if a skater suddenly elevates the intensity of their training or reduces the time allotted for recovery. Recovering from a stress fracture may require skaters to temporarily stop training and wear a stabilizing brace or use crutches.
Inflammation or thickening of the Achilles tendon is a frequent issue for figure skaters that train excessively and recover insufficiently. Likewise, repeated impact from landing various jumps strains the Achilles tendon, which may lead to pain during and after practice. Mild cases of Achilles tendonitis may respond to rest and medication, while more severe cases could require massage therapy and prolonged splinting.
While it takes tens or even hundreds of jumps to perfect the landing, it only takes one wrong landing to cause an injury. Falling on outstretched hands may result in ligament tears in the upper extremities or, more commonly, wrist fractures. Fortunately, most figure skaters fully recover from wrist fractures by wearing a cast or brace for up to six weeks. Surgical correction is necessary in more complex instances of injury.
Ice skaters might not have to sacrifice their time on the ice to reduce the risk of skating-related injuries. Instead, they can adopt an injury-prevention strategy that includes the following practices:
- Never skate with an injury.
- Slowly increase training intensity and duration.
- Warm up before training.
- Take adequate time to recover after practice.
- Cross-train using low-impact strengthening activities.
Smooth Skating in St. Augustine
Where there is rigorous training there is also an increased potential for accidents and injuries. Whether your goal is to recover and return to the rink as soon and safely as possible or to prevent injury from ever taking you away from the ice, the diverse orthopaedic team at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine can help you create a smarter training routine. Schedule your appointment online or by phone at at 904-825-0540.
Sina Kasraeian, MD
Board Certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and has extensive training in arthroscopy and sports medicine reconstructive procedures.
Casey McClone, MD
Board Certifications in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. McClone specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain for patients of all ages with ultra-sound guided injections.