Ice skating is a popular activity this time of year, whether you participate in figure skating as a sport or are just going to the ice skating rink for a fun trip with the family. Indoor ice skating rinks make it easy for everyone to participate, even if you don’t live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice. Unfortunately, back pain is a common complaint among ice skaters, particularly those who participate regularly. Let’s look at some of the most common back injuries caused by ice skating, and what you can do to prevent them.
Common Back Injuries Among Ice Skaters
While severe back injuries are more common among competitive figure skaters, casual ice skaters can injure their backs as well. The following injuries are some of the most common among ice skaters.
Lower Back Strain
Muscle strains are common among both competitive and casual ice skaters. Your lower back often takes on a lot of stress when trying to maintain your balance while skating. If your back and core muscles aren’t conditioned properly or your posture is incorrect, you could end up straining your lower back muscles. It is also possible to strain your lower back muscles when falling. Competitive figure skaters may experience muscle strain and spasms from overuse.
Stress Fractures (Spondylolysis)
Spondylolysis, also known as a stress fracture, is common in the lower spine and is often the result of overuse. This injury is more common in competitive figure skaters, as the lower back takes on a lot of stress from training. Certain maneuvers may also require hyperextension of the spine, another common cause of stress fractures. This condition can sometimes cause symptoms similar to those of a muscle strain.
Slipped Vertebra (Spondylolisthesis)
If the vertebra is fractured to the point that it slips out of place, it is known as spondylolisthesis. If an ice skater continues to skate with a stress fracture in the spine, the fracture can worsen to the point that it becomes unstable. The harsh impact from a fall onto the ice can also result in spondylolisthesis.
Herniated disc is another injury that can be caused by overuse. The discs are the shock absorbers of the spine, and over time, that wear and tear on the spine can cause damage to the exterior of the discs. This can lead to small cracks in the disc that allow the disc’s inner gel-like material to leak out, irritating the surrounding nerves. In addition to overuse, herniated disc can be the result of traumatic injury to the spine, such as a fall onto the ice.
Preventing Ice Skating Injuries
While injuries cannot always be avoided, you can take steps to decrease your likelihood of back injury. Consider these tips the next time you plan to go ice skating.
- NEVER attempt a trick if you aren’t properly trained. Competitive figure skaters train with professional coaches to learn the tricks and maneuvers they do on the ice. Even if you think a trick looks easy, you risk hurting yourself if you attempt it without the proper training.
- Strong core muscles are important. Strong core muscles help you to maintain your balance. Strong core muscles will also help to support the spine while ice skating and reduce your risk of lower back strain.
- Do some stretches before lacing up your skates. Ice skating with tight muscles increases your chances of injury. In addition to stretching your back, you should also focus on your hamstrings and quadriceps. Stretching these muscles can help to reduce strain on the lower back.
- Learn the correct ice skating form. Poor balance and posture can result in low back strain while ice skating. If you plan on ice skating often, you may want to work with an instructor to learn the correct form so you don’t end up hurting yourself.
Ice skating can be a great winter activity activity for the whole family. It’s a way to be active while still having fun. Keep these tips in mind when heading to the ice rink, and enjoy your time on the ice without back pain!