Highlight On: National Skateboarding Day
Featuring Our Top Skateboarding Safety Tips
The official holiday of skateboarding is celebrating its 15th year on June 21, 2018. National Skateboarding Day is full of fun, raising awareness for the sport, and showing the world what skateboarding is truly all about- a creative celebration of independence! This holiday was founded by the International Association of Skateboard Companies and has been appropriately named, Go Skateboarding Day. The IASC states on its website that, “skateboard retailers, manufacturers, skate parks, distributors, organizations and individuals of all colors, creeds, and attitudes hold skateboarding events to celebrate the holiday.” Skateboarders around the world create their own events and traditions to celebrate skateboarding.” Besides the obvious mission of having fun by skateboarding, it also brings to light injury prevention on the sport, specifically fall prevention. Falling is a common part of skateboarding for both newcomers and experienced skateboarders alike. In 2015, 125,145 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms after being injured skateboarding. More than half of those injured were ages 14 to 24, and about one-third were between the ages of 5 and 14, according to Injury Facts 2017, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council. The most commonly reported injuries are due to skateboarding on rocks or uneven surfaces (think rails, hills, roads with bumps). The wrists of skateboarders take the brunt of the injury, usually being sprained or fractured.
Swollen elbows and plenty of bruising and scrapes are also not uncommon. Being listed in the top ten of most injury-prone sports (coming in #8 on the list), it is important to make sure all skateboarding participants wear the proper safety gear, ride the right board, and are trained on various falling techniques to protect themselves.
Skateboarding Gear 101
Proper gear is the first part to protecting or preventing a skateboarding injury.
- Make sure your skateboard is made for what type of riding you will be doing. Skateboard styles can vary, so talk to a professional and discuss if you will mainly be doing freestyle, slalom, or speed skateboarding. Your skateboard can also vary depending on your skill level and age. Putting on Jessup Griptape®, The Original skateboard griptape before you take to the streets is also a great idea to protect you from slipping and falling.
- Wear the right clothes and safety gear. Fashion statements can be made off the board, safety should come first when riding. Even professional skaters are seen sporting this type of gear, so you should be no exception. This means closed, slip-resistant shoes, a well-fitting skateboarding-specific helmet and pads. While these items will not give you 100% fall protection, they will reduce the severity of one. Pads include knee, elbow, and hip; or wrist braces. If you are skateboarding on ramps or doing tricks of any kind, these items are a must! Special skateboarding gloves are also available to reduce the impact of falls.
- Check your gear before you ride. Make sure all the screws, nuts, and bolts on the board are secured on a regular basis. The nuts that attach your wheels to the axle should be securely fastened to a point where they can no longer turn, but do not hinder the wheels ability to move. Your tracks (the metal pieces keeping your wheels in place), should also be securely tightened as this will provide you additional safety when skating. Also, double check to ensure Jessup Griptape® is securely in place and still strong, as it needs to be replaced from time to time. If you are unsure of how to check your board or adjust any of these items, just stop by your local skateboarding shop and they will be sure to help.
Common Types of Skateboarding Falls
There are three common types of skateboarding falls that you should be educated about before hopping on a board.
- Falling Off: This is probably the most common. You lose your board, slip or stumble, but don’t hit the ground.
- Bailing: When you feel a hard fall coming on, you would bail on your trick before more damage is done (like smacking the ground).
- Slamming: This is the worst type of fall, when you actually hit the ground. You’re losing control and hit the pavement, unable to bail.
Top 5 Skateboarding Fall Methods and Tips
Falling in skateboarding is unavoidable, but by learning the art of skateboard falling you can avoid serious injury and build your confidence in the sport so you can push yourself to try new tricks without fear of painful wipeouts. Some of the commonly practiced falling methods and tips include:
- Running Out: This is exactly what it sounds like. By getting off your skateboard and running, you can potentially avoid a fall. You should try to jump off your skateboard by putting your back foot on the ground in front of the skateboard and follow with your front foot. Run in the direction your skateboard was traveling in and only stop the board once you have regained control and slowed down.
- Bailing Out: Bailing out is when you feel you could potentially get hurt doing a trick you are attempting. If you know you are about to hit the ground hard, bailing out before it is too late is key. This means jumping off your board and kicking your board away from you to prevent landing back on your board and slipping over. Kicking forward offers a greater chance you will land back on the board.
- Keep limbs loose: If a fall on your skateboard is surely going to happen (known as slamming), remember to use all your limbs to soften the blow. If you stretch out only your arms, you are highly prone to hurt or break your wrists. By keeping your arms and legs loose, they can more evenly absorb the shock of the fall and decrease the risk of breaking bones.
- For ramp falls, focus on falling on your knees. This is a good idea because you will hopefully have on your knee pads to soften the impact of the fall. The pads will also cause you to slide down the ramp to avoid serious injury.
- Roll out of your falls. It may seem silly, but by rolling after a fall you will distribute the blow of the fall and prevent more harm to your body. Shielding your face with your arms during the roll and trying to land on your back and shoulders is ideal.
No matter if you are a novice or seasoned professional in skateboarding, it is important to keep practicing proper skateboarding fall methods. This means before hitting the skateboard park, pavement, or ramps you take the time to practice at home on soft surfaces. By falling correctly before you venture out with your board, you will be better prepared for falls and want to keep coming back to the sport.
Another way to prevent bad falls on your skateboard is to ensure you are following some simple rules of the sport. First, pick a safe place to ride. This could be a different location for everyone, but the main objective is to ensure no vehicles or pedestrians are around that could potentially hit you (or you hit them). Some commonly used areas for riding are empty car parking lots, driveways, and of course skate parks. Also, stretching before hitting your skateboard, checking weather conditions, and knowing your own ability are imperative. By stretching to loosen up muscles you could prevent serious injury because it will promote blood flow to your muscles and build up your heart rate. Checking weather conditions may seem obvious to some, but making sure the area you are skating on wasn’t recently icy or wet is a small thing that can make a big difference to your safety. Lastly, knowing your own ability means mastering the basics (like skateboard fall methods and speed) before moving onto more complex tricks.
With skateboarding offering a great way to exercise and over 6.44 million skateboarders in the United States in 2016, it is important to educate all those involved in the sport about proper safety. The National Safety Council states that first-time “boarders” (those skating less than a week) account for one-third of the skateboarding injuries treated each year in emergency departments and that skateboarding injuries tend to be more common in boys, with 60 percent involving kids under age 15. By understanding all the skateboarding tips and fall prevention tactics, we can work together to make this sport a lot more fun and safe. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons offers additional skateboarding safety tips beyond our post and for those interested in learning more Go Skateboarding Day visit www.goskateboardingday.org to see where your local skateboard events are being held.