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Skateboarding Dangerous? It’s Not That Bad

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Skateboarding is a great sport but safety often comes second. Like any other sport, there’s risk involved. There’s a social stigma about skateboarding being dangerous, but in fact, it’s not that bad.

Skateboarding isn’t any more dangerous than other sports according to scientific studies, there is a risk of injury which can be prevented by taking the right precautions. Wear protective gear, stick with the basics, and consider learning from a professional skateboard instructor.

Whether your an older skateboarder, downhiller, longboarder or your kids love to skateboard, making sure you get home in one piece is vital.

Of course, you can’t force everything, random events happen, pebbles will find you and cause a dead stop and weather conditions to influence the odds.

This may sound dramatic but 90% of the time you fall and get back up, just a little scratch. It’s all part of the game.

Skateboarding Injuries and Research

Like any other sport, you run a certain risk to get injured. Skateboarding is no less safe if you take the proper steps to protect yourself. According to research by the National Safety Council 125,145 skaters were treated in emergency rooms after suffering an injury while skateboarding in 2015.

Younger people between the ages of 14 to 24 count for over half over the injuries. One third between the ages of 5 and 14.

It’s not just the newbies that get injured, even experienced skateboarders fall off their boards. Newcomers take up to one-third of the total injuries.

Don’t be alarmed by the numbers. If you are a concerned parent or want to start skateboarding this might put you off.

Skateboarding is sitting at place eight when it comes to injuries. Sports like football, bicycling and basketball are in the top three. Keep in mind that most injuries can be prevented by wearing protection.

If you’re familiar with the sport you won’t be surprised that most of the accidents are caused by irregular surfaces and rocks. It’s usually wrists, elbows, and ankles that suffer trauma.

Let’s check some statistics from research done by the American Sports Data, Inc. The data comes from A Comprehensive Study of Sports Injuries in the U.S.

Skateboard injuries compared-to other sports visual chart

Source:  http://www.familiesafield.org/pdf/injury_page.pdf

So skateboarding isn’t dangerous according to this data but it seems strange that out of 13k participant only 400 got injured. Unfortunately, the original research is nowhere to be found. 

Other sports seem to be far more dangerous. If you like some more data take a look at this research. Here’s the conclusion (the research is from 1998).

This study is the first to relate skateboarding and other sports injuries to participation exposures. We found that skateboarding is a comparatively safe sport; however, increased rates of injury are occurring in adolescent and young adult skateboarders.

The most common injuries are musculoskeletal; the more serious injuries resulting in hospitalization typically involve a crash with a motor vehicle.

Here’s a list of the common skateboard injuries:

  • Abrasions
  • Rolled ankles
  • Groin injuries
  • Concussion
  • Broken bone
  • Swollen elbows (swelbows)
  • Painful joints
  • Dislocations
  • Deep cuts and lacerations

Other Research

If you look at the research from AAP you’ll get don’t really get a different view of the risk involved.

The AAP shared some data from 2000 from January till August about skateboarders visiting the hospital.

Though the sport was more popular back then. It’s mostly young kids under 15 years old, they made up for about 90% of the visits.

This makes sense as there aren’t many girls that skateboard, unfortunately). 50,000 skateboarders visited the emergency room and about 1500 were hospitalized.

They don’t mention how many skateboarders in total we’re active in 2002 but according to Wikipedia, about 10 million people under 18 participated in the sport in 2000.

  • Compared to rollerblading, skateboard injuries happen twice as often and are often more severe.
  • Basketball accidents happen twice as often compared to skateboarding.
  • 38% of all skateboarding injuries occur in the ankle, wrist, and face.
  • About 5% of injuries are severe, most severe accidents involve traffic.
  • Most injuries are less serious (this also includes broken bones).
  • The more severe injuries happen when skaters try to perform tricks.
  • One to be mindful of is small kids, they get the most severe head injuries under the age of 5.

So we have some data, but of course, most injuries don’t get reported. You don’t visit the ER for abrasion or a bruised knee. I could do some calculations but it would be a ballpark figure.

When comparing the AAP data to the number of skateboarders, the sport still seems safe. Many of these injuries can be prevented by wearing proper protective gear.

Skateboarding Safety Tips

Make sure you master the basics before you do anything you might regret.

You’ll need to feel comfortable, your skateboard should feel like a natural extension of your body. Mastery is an art and it takes time.

  • Be considerate of other skaters, especially the younger ones.
  • Stay at your level, don’t try stuff when you’re not ready. Don’t let your friends pressure you, I’ve seen this go wrong way too often.
  • Don’t just blindly go for a trick, make sure it’s your turn to avoid a collision. A full-on collision is double the speed and someone will get hurt.
  • Stay in shape, your physical condition matters.
  • Don’t wear headphones,.
  • Empty your pockets, even your keys.
  • Wear protective gear

Sources:

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