The Winter Olympics are about to begin. Soon, little kids everywhere will shout excitedly to their parents, “Can I take figure skating lessons, please?!” The cautious Mom or Dad will cock their head and think: “She wants to wear thin blades on her feet and spin around on an expanse of cold, hard ice? I don’t think so.” And if playing ice hockey is a kid’s desire, there are crashes and checks and possibly getting a stick swung in your face to worry about. Not to mention foot injuries.
Before you say no, remember that youth sports help kids stay active and healthy. Skating teaches kids skills that help them off the ice, such as balance, focus, hand-eye coordination, teamwork, and commitment.
To help you say “yes” to your kid’s newfound interest in skate sports, consider these foot and ankle safety tips:
- Foot and ankle stress fractures are a common skating injury, along with shin splints, growth plate damage, and tendonitis. In general, they are caused by overtraining. Most kids aren’t making it to the Olympics or the NHL and don’t need to train as if they were. Keep an eye out for signs of overuse injuries such as pain, redness, or swelling anywhere in the feet or ankles.
- Taking appropriate breaks off the ice will prevent little frozen toes. Feet encased in hard skates don’t move around. Combine that with proximity to the ice, and you’ve got a recipe for decreased circulation to the feet and toes, which can lead to frostbite.
- When you lace up skates too tightly, kids can suffer from inflammation of the soft tissues in the lower leg, ankle, or foot. Avoid so-called “lace bite” by wearing skates that fit well and aren’t laced too tightly, and whose protective padding isn’t worn with age.
- Finally, be aware of the coach’s attitude. Good coaches understand that figure skating and ice hockey should be fun and safe, and they take care not to overtrain your child to the point of injury.
If your young sports enthusiast does develop pain in his feet or ankles, our experienced podiatric surgeons, Dr. Craig B. Frey, Dr. Megan L. Oltmann, and Dr. Jim Swienconek, can help them get back on the ice sooner than later. Call Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland in Solon, Ohio at (440) 903-1041 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We offer a modern office with the latest technology for podiatric patients in Portage, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Summit Counties, proudly serving our patients from Solon, Aurora, Bedford, Chagrin Falls, Hudson, Macedonia, and Twinsburg.