In-Line Skating and Skateboarding Safety

Position Statement
In-Line Skating and Skateboarding Safety
(In partnership with the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA)
This Position Statement was developed as an educational tool based on the opinion of the authors. It is not a
product of a systematic review. Readers are encouraged to consider the information presented and reach their
own conclusions.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) believes that recreational in-line
skating and skateboarding can be effective ways for youths, adolescents and adults to stay
fit and active. However, AAOS strongly urges skaters to use proper precautions and safety
equipment to prevent and minimize injuries.
Each year millions of Americans in-line skate or skateboard. Both activities involve speed, balance,
and coordination and can sometimes result in serious injuries. Skating and skateboarding require
quick movements over hard surfaces, and sometimes skaters use ramps or rails to attain higher
speeds. Injuries from falls and/or collisions can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe
fractures and catastrophic brain injury.1
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 330,000 in-line
skating and skateboarding injuries were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, ambulatory
surgery centers, and hospital emergency departments in 2014.2 In-line skating injuries included
fractures and dislocations to the ankle and wrist, as well as injuries to the head, which can be lifethreatening, very expensive to treat, and cause long-term disability. Skateboarding injuries
frequently include extremity sprains, fractures, contusions, and abrasions. Wrist and ankle fractures
are the most common skateboarding injuries, followed by head injuries. Most hospitalizations involve
head injury. The estimated yearly cost of medical treatment due to in-line skating and skateboarding
injuries is more than $9 billion. This does not include bruises and scrapes that were never seen or
To reduce the risk of serious injury, the AAOS strongly urges in-line skaters and skateboarders to
follow these safety measures:
Use quality in-line skates or skateboards.
• The two most important qualities to look for in a pair of in-line skates are comfort and support
appropriate for the user’s skill level and intended use. In-line skate boots must also fit
properly to avoid irritation.
o Do not buy boots that put too much pressure on any area of the foot.
o Choose the boot size at the end of the day or after training, when feet will be at their
o When selecting the size of the boot, wear the same type of sock that will be worn when
o Kick both feet into the back of the boots before buckling and skating.
o Be certain the heel does not move up and down in the boot during skating.
• Skateboards have three parts—the deck (the board itself), the trucks (the mechanism to
which wheels are attached), and the wheels. Shorter decks are best for beginners because
they are easier to balance and handle. Skateboards have various characteristics for all types
of riding including slalom, freestyle and speed. Some are rated for the user's weight.
• Do research ahead of time to learn about the type of equipment most appropriate for the
intended use.
Keep in-line skates or skateboards in proper working order. Inspect the equipment before
every use.
Look for problems that need repair. These can include loose, broken, or cracked parts; sharp edges
on metal boards; a slippery top surface; wheels with nicks and cracks, or missing hardware. Get a
professional to help to repair serious defects and replace the equipment regularly when it shows
signs of excessive wear.
Learn the basic skills of in-line skating or skateboarding, especially how to stop properly,
how to slow down, and how to turn.
Learn how to fall.
Learning how to fall safely can help reduce the risk and severity of injuries.
• If you are losing your balance, crouch down so you will not have so far to fall.
• Try to land on fleshy parts of your body when falling.
• Try to roll as you fall, which prevents your hands, wrists, and arms from absorbing all the
• Try to relax, rather than remaining stiff when falling.
Wear proper protective equipment.
Before using skates or a skateboard, empty your pockets of all hard and sharp objects and put on
protective gear. Essential protective equipment includes a properly fitted helmet, wrist guards, and
elbow/knee pads. Skateboarders should wear closed, non-skid, supportive shoes. Wrist guards help
support the wrist and reduce the chances of breaking a bone in a fall. Knee and elbow pads reduce
the severity of cuts and scrapes and prevent gravel burns.
Choose and wear a properly fitted helmet.
To protect the head from injury, always wear a properly fitting helmet. This is true no matter what
your age, level of experience, or skateboarding arena. A quality bicycle or multi-sport helmet should
meet or exceed safety standards of the CPSC or Snell Memorial Foundation of the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI). Try on several sizes and models to find a helmet that fits your
head correctly and securely. Replace the helmet when it is damaged, when you outgrow it, or at
least every 5 years. Replace it sooner if the manufacturer recommends it. A properly fitting helmet
meets the following criteria:
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" shape around each ear.
Has a buckle that fastens tightly (with room to put only two fingers between the strap and the
• Has pads inside that can be installed or removed so the helmet fits snuggly.
• Does not move in any direction when the head is moving.
• Does not interfere with movement, vision, or hearing.
In-line skate and skateboard only on smooth pavement away from traffic, preferably in a
supervised skate park.
• Never hold onto the side or rear of a moving vehicle while in-line skating or riding a
skateboard ("skitching"). It is easy to fall or be thrown into oncoming traffic if the vehicle
suddenly slows, stops, or turns.
• Never use in-line skates or a skateboard in wet weather.
• Avoid skating through crowded walkways or in the dark.
• Always screen the area beforehand, inspecting surfaces for irregularities, rocks, and other
Be careful with tricks and jumps.
These skills are not acquired quickly or easily. Don't take chances by going faster than your
experience permits, or faster than is safe for conditions or the speed of others. Tricks and jumps
should be practiced only in a controlled environment, such as a skate park that has adult supervision
and appropriate access to emergency medical care.
Stay in shape.
Prevent injuries by keeping in top physical condition.
Do not use headphones while in-line skating or skateboarding.
Never put more than one person on a skateboard.
Be considerate of fellow in-line skaters and skateboarders, especially those who are younger
and/or less skilled.
Know what to do in an emergency.
Accidents happen, so users should always know what to do in emergency situations. Don't panic.
Call 911, or your local emergency hotline or medical assistance or an ambulance.
Be safe, have fun.
When you take proper precautions, you can reduce your potential for injuries, and in-line skating or
skateboarding can both be relatively safe, enjoyable activities.
The AAOS and POSNA do not recommend in-line skating or skateboarding for children
younger than age 5 because they are still growing and do not yet have the physical skills and
thinking ability a person needs to control a skateboard and ride it safely. Children age 6 to
10 should be supervised by an adult. All children and teens should wear proper safety gear
(helmets, wrist guards, knee/elbow pads), and skate on smooth pavement, away from traffic.
Skateboarding Safety. Your Orthopaedic Connection Web site. Accessed June 11, 2015.
US Consumer Product Safety Commission. NEISS data. Accessed June 2015.
Inline Skate Resource. Inline Skate Buying Guide,
Sheehan E, Mulhall K J, Kearns S, O’Connor P, McManus F, Stephens M, and McCormack D:
Impact of dedicated skate parks on the severity and incidence of skateboard- and rollerbladerelated pediatric fractures, J Pediatr Orthop 2003 Jul-Aug;23(4):440.
International Association of Skateboard Companies, 2009 State of the Skateboard Industry
©February 1995 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons®. Revised June 2005, September 2010, and
September 2015.
This material may not be modified without the express written permission of the American Academy of
Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Position Statement 1127
For additional information, contact the Public Relations Department at 847-384-4036.
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