Inline skating can be hazardous if you do not wear proper safety gear or do not learn to skate and stop safely. In fact, people visit the hospital emergency room each year because of injuries associated with inline skates. Wrist injuries are common, as well as injuries to the leg, knee, ankle, or elbow. Injuries to the head and face are also fairly common.
The most common inline skating injuries result from:
- Falling after your wheels hit a stationary object, such as a rock, stick, pothole, bump in pavement, or other object
- Losing balance
- Colliding with another skater, cyclist, or pedestrian
- Losing control, such as while skating downhill
- Hazardous road conditions, such as sand, oil, or wet pavement
- Poor visibility
The following tips help reduce skating injuries:
Always Wear Proper Safety Gear
Proper safety gear for skating includes:
- A helmet that fits well and is worn properly
- Knee pads
- Elbow pads
- Wrist guards
Check Your Equipment
- Your skates should be of high quality and should fit well, providing good ankle support.
- Check your skates on a regular basis to make sure they are in good condition.
- Replace any wheels, bearings, or brakes that are starting to get worn.
- Check your wheels and remove any grass or rocks that are stuck in the bearings.
Get instruction from an experienced skater. You should have basic skating skills (turning, controlling speed, falling safely, and stopping) before you attempt to skate in a public place.
- Be cautious when skating in areas where there are cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and other skaters. Avoid sudden stops and turns.
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Always yield to pedestrians.
- Be alert for children, who are unpredictable and may run across your path when you least expect it.
- Be cautious around dogs, even if they are on leashes. If a leashed dog runs in front of you, you may skate into the leash and fall.
Skate Only in Safe Areas
- Skate on smooth, paved surfaces without any traffic. Remember that it can be dangerous to skate in the street.
- Do not skate through water, sand, mud, gravel, dirt, or oil.
- When you approach a driveway or parking lot, always expect a car to come speeding out. When in doubt, slow down.
- Before crossing an intersection, always look around for any car that could turn in front of you.
- When approaching a car parked on the side of the road, be prepared for someone to open a door.
- Obey traffic regulations.
Do Not Skate at Night
At night, others cannot see you and you cannot see obstacles or other skaters. If you must skate in the dark, wear reflective clothing, put flashing bicycle lights on your helmet, and carry a flashlight.
Avoid Any Type of “Towing” Activity
Do not hitch a ride to any moving vehicle when you are on inline skates. You may not be able to slow down fast enough to avoid colliding with the vehicle that is towing you. You could also be thrown into oncoming traffic. For the same reason, do not let your dog tow you while you are on skates.
Do Not Use Headphones While Skating
While skating, avoid using headphones or anything else that could prevent you from hearing vehicles, cyclists, and other skaters.
- Pass pedestrians, cyclists, and others skaters on the left, and only when it is safe to do so.
- Let others know when you are going to pass them. Say “Passing on your left,” in a pleasant tone of voice that is loud enough for them to hear.
- If skating with another person or group, skate in single file.
- Stay to the right side of sidewalks, trails, and bike paths.
American College of Sports Medicine
American Council on Exercise
Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute
Benson J, Shafer A. Falling safely. The InLine Club of Boston website. Available at: http://icbskates.org/learn-to-skate/how-to-fall. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Hand signals. The InLine Club of Boston website. Available at http://icbskates.org/skate-with-us/skating-signals. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Inline skating. National Safety Council website. Available at: http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Inline-Skating-Safety.pdf. Updated October 9, 2012. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Inline skating safety statistics. International Inline Skating Association website. Available at http://www.iisa.org/resources/safety.htm. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Safety tips: inline skating. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/safety-inline.html. Updated January 2014. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Skate safely—always wear safety gear. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Available at http://www.cpsc.gov/CPSCPUB/PUBS/5014.pdf. Accessed May 31, 2016.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 5/31/2016