Technically, yes. Like any other outdoor sport, skateboarding also comes with a set of risks. However, these risks can be minimized through the right attitude, gear, and knowledge of safety. With skateboarding, “Risky” is a more appropriate word than downright “Dangerous”
Let’s look at some numbers showcasing skateboarding injuries across the country.
- Each year, around 70,000 people have to visit the ER due to skateboard-related injuries, most of whom (45%) are in the age group 15 – 24. (US National Safety Council)
- 1500 children and adolescents need to be hospitalized every year.
- 147 people died on the road from skateboard-related injuries between 2011 and 2015.
- In 2017, over 98,000 people visited the ER to treat skateboard injuries, almost half of them were under 18 (Injury Facts).
- The most common skateboard injuries (74%) are extremities, with 19% broken wrists, 11% ankle injuries, and 16% injuries in the face. (Skateboard Injury Statistics)
- 20% of all injuries were in the head, 3.1% of them were serious and most of them happened to skaters under the age of 10. (US National Safety Council)
- Only 5% of skateboarding injuries were severe.
- One-third of all skateboard injuries are sustained by beginners.
- Nearly all severe injuries involve an accident with a motor vehicle.
Skateboarding injuries compared to other sports
Skateboarding is a much safer sport than many other sports we know and are used to. For example, if I were to tell you that skateboarding is much safer than basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, softball, or even eating a damn hotdog; many of you wouldn’t believe me.
Here is a comparative study by the US National Safety Council in 2018 showing the number of injuries associated with many popular sports (per 100,000 people).
Most common skateboarding injuries are cuts and bruises, sprains, and broken bones. With the right safety equipment, these injuries can be minimized even more. Children usually don’t care about safety precautions and end up getting hurt the most.
Common Skateboard Injuries
Cuts and bruises
These are the most common injuries you can get while skateboarding. Skateboarders ride 3 times faster than other pedestrians and can hit some tree branches or sharp objects along the way. Bruises usually happen when you fall down or scratch your skin against a rough surface.
Both cuts and bruises are minor injuries and won’t stop you from skating. Using protective gears like a wristband can offer some level of protection.
Even if skateboards run slower than a bicycle, it’s still way faster than pedestrians. Injuries like sprained or broken ankles become more likely as you ride faster. Ankle injuries most commonly occur while performing tricks. They cause sharp pain and swelling.
The ankle gets twisted when pressure is applied at an awkward angle. This usually happens when skateboarders try to hit the ramp and fall over their ankles.
Breaking/fracturing your bone is probably the most painful thing you may face during skateboarding. You can also break your bone from a nasty ankle sprain.
Broken bones are rare and usually occur when you fail to land properly. Apparently, newbies break their bones more often than the pros. The key to keeping your bones intact is to learn how to fall properly. Don’t rush, take it easy and one step at a time; you’ll do just fine.
Broken wrists can’t stop you from skating, but they are painful and annoying. This usually happens when you fall face forward and subconsciously try to put your arms before your body for protection.
As a result, the tendons in your wrists may get twisted/torn, causing significant pain for the next couple of weeks. Your wrist(s) may swell and make it hard for you to touch anything. Avoid skating while you are recovering so you don’t get hurt again.
No matter what type of sport you are performing, head injuries are almost always serious, and sometimes they can turn fatal quickly. 20% of all skateboard injuries are in the head. Some serious head injuries include concussion, blunt trauma, closed head injuries, and skull fractures.
That’s why wearing a helmet while skateboarding is absolutely essential. Unless you don’t want to see the face of your loved one wrapped around with bandages in a hospital seat, please make sure they use a helmet next time.
Dangerous places for skateboarding
Any place can be dangerous for skating, depending on how skilled and well-equipped you are. Usually, rough terrains and roads filled with pebbles are not good for skating. Your skateboard can send you flying even on the most perfect surface if you are inexperienced.
Places like open roads are the most dangerous places for skateboarding. Try to avoid traffic and uneven surfaces. That decision alone can significantly reduce your risk factors. Even in the skatepark, there are specially designed places for beginners.
Wet weather conditions are also a huge red flag for skateboarding. Water makes the surface slippery and that can cause you some serious injury.
Things to Consider to Stay Safe on Skateboards
1. Don’t just wing it
Pro skateboarders make performing tricks and stunts seamless, but that doesn’t mean you can nail it on your first try. Each trick takes time and dedication to master. The biggest challenge for newbies is to learn how to stop. Take your time and move forward one step at a time.
Don’t just try anything you’re not familiar with and nail it on the 1st try, you can’t. Try learning how to stop and how to fall first. The rest will come naturally over time and practice.
2. Inspect your board
Not all skateboards are made the same way. The material composition, shape, structure, and length will have an effect on how you skate.
Different skateboards are designed for skateboarders with different skill levels and riding styles. For example, shorter decks work well for beginners because balancing is easier on them.
That’s why choosing the right skateboard is just as important as taking proper care of it. Inspect your board; and adjust the trucks, wheels, and pads regularly to ensure a safe riding experience. Check for any cracks or loose joints before your ride. Keep a repair kit nearby.
3. Use designated skateboarding areas
This might be true that skateboarding is safer than a lot of other sports, but if you’re not careful; you may end up in a hospital. To avoid that, only use designated skateboarding areas AKA skateparks to learn and practice skateboarding.
Keep away from traffic at all costs. It will be very difficult for both a vehicle and you to brake safely before anything bad happens. If you don’t have a skatepark nearby, use an empty parking lot.
4. Your physical condition
We can’t be on top of our game every day. There will be some days when we won’t be able to get much done, and that’s okay. Take a break every once in a while, even from skateboarding. Otherwise, you compromise your safety and increase the risk of fatigue or injury.
It’s okay to push your limits but you need to learn when not to. If you are suffering from fatigue or any other physical conditions, it would be wise to skip the grinding for a few days.
5. Wear proper clothing
This is the most important piece of clothing that needs your attention. While the skateboard is moving, your shoes need to provide enough grip so that you don’t fall. Good quality skateboard shoes are durable and comfy. They feature a slightly longer nose than average sneakers.
As for other clothing components, there is no hard and fast rule to maintain. Wear whatever you are most comfortable with. Most skateboarding movements use legwork so clothing like shirts or pants doesn’t usually affect the performance. Use flexible and breathable clothes for comfort.
6. Wear the right gear
The helmet is the most important piece of equipment and the foundation of protective gear in all forms of skateboarding. They are equipped with EPS foams to protect your head in case of a fall or a big slam. Always use certified helmets to ensure safety.
Pads and guards
Pads primarily offer protection from bruises or scrapes. Knee pads, wrist guards, and elbow pads are probably among the most widely used safety equipment across the community. They are especially useful when it comes to learning new tricks.
Pads are your best friend while skating, especially if you’re a beginner. You can use either standard pads or sleeve pads, whichever you’re most comfortable with.
7. Use the right skateboard
Choosing the right skateboard is also crucial as the harder your board is to control, the more you’re prone to get injured. If you’re a beginner, start with a deck that has a width proportional to your shoe size. Wider boards are good for commuting as they provide better stability.
On the other hand, shorter decks are good at performing tricks. They help to perform flip tricks, manuals, ledges, flat bars, and technical tricks whereas longer boards make performing handrails, skating big bowls, and making larger jumps easier.
8. Learning to stop and fall
The thing every skater has to know is how to stop and how to fall face forward. Even the most skilled rider can lose balance. If you don’t master the art of falling and stopping your board effortlessly, you may become a danger to yourself and everybody around you.
This is how you stop:
If you notice yourself losing balance while riding the board, try crouching down to lower your center of gravity. This will help you regain some balance. To stop, use your anchor legs and apply pressure gradually using your weight. Practice at low speed first.
This is how you learn to fall:
9. Know your limits
Over 30% of all skateboard injuries happened to people with less than one week of experience. Knowing your limit will always help you to progress steadily and sustainably. If you are a beginner, try riding your skateboard over the grass first.
The grass will act as a cushion in case you fall. Tricks are fun, but taking a bite larger than you can chew almost never ends well. Be sure to take it slow and practice mindful skating. This isn’t a race, it’s a joyride.
10. Weather conditions
Last but not least, you should always pay attention to your local weather forecast. Only ride your skateboard in bright and sunny weather. Wet weather conditions can make skateboarding riskier as the water makes the surface slippery.
Stay aware of your environment and the weather as it can save you both money and pain down the road.
Why Is Skateboarding Good for You?
Unfortunately, humankind hasn’t been able to invent autopilot for your skateboard. You need to be aware of your surroundings at all times to prevent injuring anyone around or yourself.
Skateboarding requires being mindful of your every move and that can help you become more observant in your professional and personal life.
Skateboarding is a game of coordination. Maneuvering over a skateboard requires your eyes, arms, legs, and feet to work in harmony. As a result, your physique improves significantly. You become better at almost every physical task. Skateboarding is working out, with a lot of fun.
Skateboarding needs your body parts, especially the ankles and joints to be flexible. Your body needs to loosen up to be able to skate at your full potential. This flexibility helps in other sports and physical activities as well. The more flexible you are, the more you can perform.
Whether you use your skateboard for fun a few hours a week or regularly use it for commuting; skateboarding will help you build your endurance over time. Patience is a noble virtue that comes in handy in every aspect of life, including being better at skateboarding.
Any exercise can be a stress reliever. However, skateboarding is like no other exercise. The adrenalin rush you get from riding downhill will help you clear your head like nothing else. Fun and challenging skateboarding also help build connections which in term also relieves stress.
Skateboarding safety tips
- Never forget to gear up properly. That includes pads, helmets, and guards
- Choose the right skateboard for you (avoid the cheap ones)
- Check weather conditions before you hit the road
- Keep away from traffic at all times
- Learn how to fall and stop properly
- Don’t rush on improvement and let it come naturally
- Inspect and maintain your board and gear regularly
- Avoid using noise-canceling headphones while skating
- Be mindful of your surroundings
- Don’t use homemade ramps
- Never ride multiple people on a skateboard.
1. Can skateboarding kill you?
Ans: Technically, yes. If you get hit by a vehicle while skateboarding, in the worst-case scenario, you might die. However, that is highly unlikely and you should never skate anywhere with traffic or pedestrians nearby.