Safety tips for ice skaters—the experienced and not-so experienced

As the world gears up for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, many of the world’s top athletes are training hard for what could be the most important competition of their lives. And with all the TV news coverage surrounding the games, athletes and events, it’s possible your child may suddenly show a new interest in trying a winter sport. If so, ice skating is a great place to start. It’s a fun, low-cost activity that’s also great exercise that offers a lower-body workout and tremendous cardiovascular benefits.

But before your child hits the ice for the first time, there are a few safety tips that you need to consider:

Take lessons! Proper skating technique must be learned and practiced. Many community rinks offer lessons. Check them out.

The ice itself is important to skating safety. Bumps and ruts may cause skaters to slip and fall, indoors and out. On frozen ponds and lakes, watch for hazards like sticks, rocks and uneven surfaces. Also, be sure that outdoor ice is thick enough to hold your child. Only skate in areas approved by police or recreation departments.

Check your skates. Make sure they’re snug enough for ankle support, but not so tight and stiff that they cause pain. Also, sharpening the skates may reduce the risk of slips and falls.

Hard falls on hard ice may result in head injuries. Parents should consider putting helmets on children who are just learning to skate.

If you take part in public skating, remember that skaters of all skill levels are on the ice at the same time. Watch your surroundings and leave plenty of room between you and the other skaters. Also, skate in the same direction as everyone else.

Even if your child is an experienced skater, injury is still a serious possibility. For information on the many types of ice skating injuries young skaters face, and advice on how to avoid them, please visit this website, scroll down and download our full Ice Skating Injury Prevention Tip Sheet. To speak with an expert at The Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, please visit this site.