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Safety Tips: Skateboarding

There's something undeniably cool about skateboarding, from its rebellious attitude to its larger-than-life stars like Tony Hawk and Shaun White. It's fun, it's hip, it's a way of life. There's a good reason why skateboarding's popularity has soared in the last few decades, and why offshoots like long-boarding and mountain-boarding are becoming more common.

But skateboarding also can be an easy way to get hurt, particularly if you skate in the wrong place or don't wear protective gear. Scrapes and bruises are almost a fact of skateboarding life, but broken bones and sprains are also common. To keep it safe while skateboarding, stick to the rules wherever you skate, and follow these safety tips.

Why Is Safety Important?

It's easy to lose your balance when riding a skateboard. With every fall, there's a chance you'll be hurt and end up in an emergency room. Some of those injuries can be severe, and skateboarders have been killed by head injuries and collisions with cars.

Kids and beginners are the most likely to get hurt. More than half of skateboard injuries happen to people under the age of 15. A third happen to those who've been skateboarding less than a week.

Experienced skaters get hurt, too. As the difficulty of tricks increases, so does the risk of injury, while things like rocks and poor riding surfaces are always a threat.

Gear Guidelines

It may seem like all you need to start skateboarding is a board and an attitude — until your first wipeout. Asphalt, concrete, wood, and other common riding surfaces have one thing in common: none of them is soft. Helmets are a must for all skateboarders, and so are wrist guards, pads, and proper shoes.

Here are some of the things you'll need to get started:

Where to Ride

This may be the single most important decision you make, as far as your safety is concerned. Rough riding surfaces are responsible for more than half of skateboarding injuries.

You'll probably do most of your initial skating in your own driveway, a friend's driveway, or a skate park. Wherever you ride, make sure the area is free of rocks, sticks, and other objects. Look out for potentially dangerous cracks in the surface before you ride, and make sure there is no chance of an encounter with a car.

The greatest threat to your health while skateboarding is cars. Falls hurt, but they are rarely fatal. Collisions with large objects can kill you. Never ride in the street.

Before You Start

It goes without saying that the better shape you're in, the better you'll be at all athletic activities, not just skateboarding. Eat right and exercise regularly. Warm up and stretch before you skate, especially your back, legs, and ankles.

Make sure the place you plan to skate is dry. Clear the area of anything that might interfere with your wheels.

Before you shove off and start skating, be sure it's your turn and that no one is in the way. Collisions can happen if skaters don't communicate. And never ride with someone else on your skateboard. One rider per board, period.

While Riding

You will fall while skateboarding. That much is a given. So:

A Few Other Reminders

Skateboarding is great way to have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment. There's nothing like mastering a new trick to feel a surge of self-confidence and pride. Practice, practice, practice, and before long you'll be the one doing the kick-flips and spins and owning the skate park!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: March 2014

Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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