Explore UPMC.com
Show the Banner?

Skateboarding Injuries

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment with a physician or other Sports Medicine expert, call
1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

UPMC Rooney
Sports Complex
3200 S. Water St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
8000 Cranberry Springs Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Skateboarding is an evolving sport. Children and teens participate for recreation and competition.

As its popularity has increased, so has the number of young athletes treated for skateboarding injuries.

Education and prevention are vital to keeping your young skater on the board and out of the emergency room.

Common Skateboarding Injuries

According to the National Safety Council, first-time "boarders" (those skating for less than a week) account for one-third of the 50,000 skateboarding injuries treated each year in emergency departments. 

Some of the most common injuries occurring in skateboarding include:

  • Head injuries, including concussions, pose the greatest danger to the safety of young skateboarders. These can involve time in a hospital, permanent impairment, and, in extreme cases, even death.
  • Hand, wrist, or shoulder injuries may occur when skateboarders lose their balance and fall on an outstretched arm.
  • Ankle injuries, such as fractures are also common.

The experts at UPMC Sports Medicine's Young Athlete Program can work with your pediatrician to evaluate and aggressively treat your young skateboarder's injury to help prevent more serious long-term effects.

Causes of skateboarding injuries

Young skateboarders are at greater risk than adults of suffering severe injuries because they:

  • Have higher centers of gravity
  • Have poor balance
  • Have slower reaction times
  • Have less coordination
  • Often overestimate their skills
  • May not appropriately judge barriers, ramps, and traffic

The most serious injuries happen when skateboarders:

  • Lose control and fall
  • Run in to a car, road hazard, pedestrian, bicyclist, or another skateboarder
  • Attempt tricks beyond their skill levels
  • Skate on improper or irregular surfaces

Skateboarding Safety Tips to Prevent Injury

Young skateboarders should always wear proper protective gear, in good condition, to reduce the risks of injury and ensure safety.

Proper skateboarding gear includes:

  • Closed, slip-resistant shoes
  • An appropriately fitted helmet
  • Pads for knees, elbows, and hands

Fitting a helmet

The best style and fit of a helmet is different for everyone. The skateboarder should try on several styles and sizes to find one that fits correctly and securely.

All helmets should meet or exceed the safety standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

A properly fitting helmet will help prevent head injuries, and should include the following features:

  • Is worn flat on the head with the bottom edge parallel to the ground.
  • Sits low on the forehead.
  • Has side straps that form a "V" around each ear.
  • Has a buckle that fastens tightly, allowing room for only two fingers between the helmet strap and the chin.
  • Has pads that can be added to or removed from the inside, so the helmet fits snugly.
  • Does not move in any direction when the wearer shakes his or her head.
  • Does not interfere with movement, vision, or hearing.

Replace the helmet at least every five years, or when it's damaged or outgrown.

Learning to fall

If they rehearse falling, young skateboarders can:

  • Practice their coordination
  • Improve their reaction times
  • Lessen their impact with the ground

When starting to fall, skateboarders should crouch down on the board to reduce the distance to the ground and try to roll, using their arms to absorb the force of the fall.

Learning to stop

Skateboarders should be well versed in stopping before they skate on a sidewalk or cul-de-sac, at a skate park, and especially around traffic.

Foot-braking is the first "trick" to learn when boarding.

  • Turn the front foot forward in line with the board. The chest and face should be turned forward as well.
  • Transfer weight to the front foot and keep it centered on that foot without leaning back or forward. At the same time, swing out the back leg, keeping it straight. Lower the back leg to the ground.
  • Apply light pressure to the ground with the sole of the shoe. Continue to apply more pressure to slow down faster. Remember, nice and easy.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. This isn't mastered in one try.

Learn to foot-brake at a comfortable speed (one where braking would normally not be necessary), then work up to stopping from faster speeds.

When learning to brake, boarders often have trouble with the back foot "skipping" off the ground. This happens when too much weight is put on the back foot.

Instead, make sure most weight is on the front leg, and lightly drag the back foot to slow down.

Show the Feature Bar?

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit www.healthwise.org

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA | UPMC.com