As I sit here nursing a significantly bruised heel wrapped with ice, it’s only fitting that I divulge some of the unavoidable consequences that skateboarding comes with.
Unfortunately, in extreme sports, pain and injury are consistent passengers in the journey, especially when pushing your limits and working on expanding your bag of tricks.
There are a few causes why skateboarding can hurt your feet. Beginner skateboarders often have a cramped stance and don’t feel comfortable riding yet. Other reasons are: impacts, improper footwear, landing primo, and ankle rolls
Here are a few examples of how skateboarding hurts your feet and ankles and some ways to work around them.
A massive part of skateboarding involves hucking our bodies down stairs, gaps, drops, etc. While landing on your board perfectly and rolling away minimizes the chance of hurting your feet, it is much more common to have some failed attempts beforehand.
Now, there is an art to falling properly to minimize pain, but bail after bail, your feet take on much responsibility. The bigger the drop, the harder the impact on your feet. Larger impacts can have brutal consequences on your feet, like bruises, tears, sprains, and fractures.
A tip to help you prepare for throwing a trick down some stairs or a gap is to practice it on flat ground repeatedly until you have it on lock. This approach will undoubtedly raise your confidence and limit the number of attempts during your battle with the drop, diminishing the risk of serious injury.
2. Proper Footwear
It’s essential to have the proper footwear when skateboarding. Although there are many different models, the design for your typical skate shoe is universal. Skate shoes are designed to be flat, flexible, a little on the bulky side, and consist of grippy soles.
Then significance of this design is due to several reasons. You want a flat shoe because your skateboard, although it has a slight concave, is relatively flat. This shape creates a comfortable platform for your foot and allows solace throughout your session.
Now, it’s very important in skating to have a full range of motion, so this is where flexibility comes in. You want to be able to manipulate your board to flip, spin, and pop in multiple directions. This is why these shoes are usually designed with suede, canvas, and mesh.
Wear and tear is inevitable on this material but still very durable for the most part. The bulkiness is necessary for obvious reasons. Your feet take a lot of damage in various ways from skating, so the more protection, the better.
The grippy rubber soles are crucial for “catching” your tricks correctly. These attributes are designed not only for performance but protection as well. I’m not saying you need a pair of Vans to pop a kickflip, but it’s a much safer option than rocking some flimsy, lightweight running shoes or a pair of strapped-up, high-top basketball kicks.
3. Tight Shoes
Now that you know what type of footwear to skate in, let’s discuss how NOT to wear them. Like most sports, you want your shoes to be tight but not too tight. They should fit perfectly. I admit that I’m guilty of double-knotting my shoes and wearing them as tight as possible because it feels nice to have no slippage, and I’m also slightly a maniac.
But guess what? Because of this, I have huge bunions and constant blisters on the sides of my feet. This preference doesn’t mean you have to go out, buy a pair of slip-ons and gamble with your life (although some people have no problem doing this).
Try on a couple of pairs of kicks, tie a standard knot, and if you have a nice, snug fit with breathing room, let it rip. Trust me; you don’t want to end up like me, sanding off calluses on your pinky toes with a pumice stone every other night.
4. Landing Primo
I have the evil, unforgiving stance of primo to thank for my current injury and sidelined situation. Landing primo is the absolute worst unless you’re Rodney Mullen or some other freestyle skateboarding legend that actually lands like this on purpose.
Landing primo is when you don’t get full rotation on a trick (usually a flip-trick) and land with your feet on the side of the board. The pain is multiplied from a high drop, but primo can still claim you pretty severely on flat ground (like me).
It can do significant damage because all of your weight lands on your board on its 1-inch, thinnest form instead of landing regularly on an 8-inch platform (give or take). Primo occurs often when your trick’s rotation is too slow, but you still commit to the make.
This sequence is the most painful because you put all your pressure into it as if you’re going to stomp the landing, but instead, you stomp out the soles of your feet. Every skater knows the pain of primo, and unfortunately, it will happen from time to time.
5. Ankle Rolls
Here’s another one I can speak on from experience. On my long laundry list of injuries that have claimed my time, sanity, and peace of mind, I can jot down two broken ankles and a broken foot. The standard and ever-so-frustrating ankle roll is to thank for all three.
Ankle rolls are extremely common in skateboarding and can happen to anyone regardless of skill level. The most frequent way ankle rolls occur is by overshooting your board with your lead foot while the other foot stays on the board.
Meanwhile the forward motion carries the board through, resulting in your ankle rolling forward while your skateboard almost runs over it, but is ultimately stopped by the truck. This sequence of events can not only badly injure/break your ankle but your foot as well.
Typically the side of your foot gets affected, which can result in a Jones fracture. The best way to avoid this while still pushing yourself to throw down tricks is to master the art of falling, kicking your board away when the attempt is sketchy, and have your trick as close to mastered as possible before trying it down any gap or stairs.
6. Ankle Smackers
In the same wheelhouse as ankle rolls, and landing primo, I now bring us to discuss the dreaded ankle smackers. These are just as annoying as they sound, I assure you. Ankle smackers happen when you don’t fully commit to a trick, so you spread your legs to allow the board to finish the trick process without you, and as the board’s motion keeps spinning, it rocks you right in the ankle or shin.
Back in the day, I swear this was the sole reason that everybody wore pants when they skated. That little extra piece of clothing seemed so protective. Ankle smackers are responsible for so many bruised shins, swollen ankles, and my entire 8th-grade summer in jeans.
No doubt they can do serious damage, and man, do they hurt, but for the most part, you’ll usually escape with some bruising or discoloration and be back on the board in no time.
7. Lack Of Rest
Skateboarding produces insane dedication, and I fully respect it, but if you have nagging, minor injuries more often than not, and they don’t seem to be improving, chances are you need to slow down and rest.
If you’re anything like me, you hate this advice, and I understand that, but it truly is essential to give your body a rest and allow it to recover. Let’s face it, skateboarding is one of the most physically demanding sports out there, and the more you progress and push yourself, the more damage you put on your body. We are not invincible, and our muscles get strained after more repetition.
The beauty of skateboarding is that it will be there again for you tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time off, letting your body heal, and putting your feet up. Trust me; they’ve been through a lot.