Skateboarding comes with a risk of injury to the ankles.
Skateboarding is an exhilarating but high-risk sport, as new techniques are usually tested out on unforgiving concrete. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, skateboard-related injuries caused more than 78,000 emergency room visits among skaters 19 years old. The ankles are particularly vulnerable to injury, along with the wrists and face. While wearing an ankle brace wont make you a more skilled skater, it may help help prevent an already injured ankle from becoming injured again.
Wearing is Caring
Spraining your ankle puts you at a higher risk of a future sprain, according to ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell. This is especially true when performing risky maneuvers on a skateboard. A sprain, especially a serious one, may damage the propioceptors, specialized nerve endings that sense when your ankle is about to roll and send messages to the surrounding muscles and tendons to recalibrate your position. Damaged propioceptors work less effectively, contributing to new sprains. Wearing an ankle brace while skateboarding will provide additional support to injured ankles, potentially helping to make up for this reduced signaling. The AAOS notes that high top sneakers can provide ankle support as well.
Considerations and Concerns
Wearing an ankle brace during skateboarding may not be an effective preventative strategy for ankles that are healthy. Without doing ankle strengthening exercises, ankle braces may be counter-productive, according to the athletics department of Illinois-based Lake Forest High School. This is because the muscles of the ankle can become weaker if the athlete heavily depends on the brace, resulting in a higher risk of injury on days when the brace is not worn. Simple exercises, such as pointing the feet and tracing out the motions of the alphabet on the floor, can help strengthen the ankles for better skateboarding success.
Recovery and Relief
Ankle injuries happen even to the best skaters. According to ESPN, professional skateboarder Tony Hawk has sprained his ankle so badly that in four incidents, he was unable to walk. If you experience a sprain, keep weight off your ankle, wrap it in a bandage and elevate it above your heart. Apply ice for 20 minutes at a time three or four times a day for the first 12 to 36 hours. Do not skate until you can put weight on your ankle without pain or discomfort. See your doctor for treatment and guidance.
Other Gear and Gadgets
While there is some debate about the best use for an ankle brace, there are other safety items that are universally encouraged for injury prevention when skateboarding. A properly fitting helmet is essential to protect the head, especially when practicing air-borne tricks. The helmet should fit snugly and not move when you shake your head back and forth. Check for a sticker inside the helmet that says it meets the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard. Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles.