Figure Skating

01 Overview

Figure skating is a popular Winter Olympic sport comprised of spins, jumps, lifts, and other moves on the ice. Men and women participate in several different disciplines, including singles, pairs, and ice dance. The local chapter of Skate Canada serves approximately 19,000 skaters in British Columbia and the Yukon. Common injuries in ice skating include ankle and knee sprains.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Acute and overuse injuries in the ankle region are very common in figure skating, including ankle sprains, which commonly occur during off ice training.

Acute and overuse injuries in the knee are very common in figure skating, including stress fractures from jumping and patellar compression injury from repeat falling.

Figure skaters can experience Achilles tendonitis, stress fractures from jumping, and other issues with their feet related to the fit of their skating boots.

Muscle strain of the adductor complex, hip flexor, and oblique abdominal muscles can occur among skaters who perform complex jumps.

Lower back pain experienced by figure skaters includes lumbar strains.

Some figure skaters experience rotator cuff injury due to lifting a partner.

Sprains and factures may occur as the result of a fall.

Injuries to the head among figure skaters include bruises, cuts and concussion.

02 Injury Statistics

There are differences in the number and type of injuries experienced across skating disciplines; however, most injuries occur to the ankle and knee. Acute injuries occur more often than overuse injuries in pairs skating and ice dancing. Statistics are presented for competitive figure skaters.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

03 Risk Factors

Potential risk factors in figure skating include maneuvers, overtraining, and training during growth spurts.

  • Maneuvers

    Skaters are at risk of injury when skating in-between other skaters (“intersection” element) or when skating together in groups (“block” element).

  • Training During Growth Spurts

    Training during growth spurts is thought to contribute to an increase in figure skating injuries. This may be due to less flexibility during growth spurts, and skaters may not be adequately aware of their body’s limitations.

  • Overtraining

    Overtraining, especially at a young age, can increase your risk of injury in figure skating. Children begin training at a younger age and at higher intensity level than in the past.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in figure skating.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in injury.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help reduce the risk of injury. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to figure skating.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for participants and parents to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Training
    Recommendations for reducing injury in figure skating include using a harness to learn new moves, limiting repetitive jumps during practice, and avoiding the introduction of new skills during growth spurts. Skaters should train and condition off the ice in addition to on-ice training.

    Equipment
    A figure skating boot should be stiff, and is meant to limit the movement of the ankle. The boot should be properly fitted and replaced when needed.

    Figure Skating Resources

    Sport-related Physicals
    Figure skating is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce the risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your skaters’ training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in injury.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help reduce the risk of injury. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to figure skating.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for coaches and teachers to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Training
    Recommendations for reducing injury among your figure skaters include using a harness to learn new moves, limiting repetitive jumps during practice, and avoiding the introduction of new skills during growth spurts. Your athletes should train and condition off the ice in addition to on-ice training.

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing figure skating in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing figure skating in your school.

    Equipment
    Your figure skaters’ boots should be stiff; they are meant to limit the movement of the ankle. Boots should be properly fitted and replaced when needed.

    Figure Skating Resources

    Sport-related Physicals
    Figure skating is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce the risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your coaches, teachers, organization, or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your skaters’ training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in injury.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help reduce the risk of injury. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to figure skating.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing figure skating in elementary schools.

    Learn more about implementing figure skating in your school.

    Training
    Recommendations for reducing injury among your figure skaters include using a harness to learn new moves, limiting repetitive jumps during practice, and avoiding the introduction of new skills during growth spurts. Your athletes should train and condition off the ice in addition to on-ice training.

    Equipment
    Your figure skaters’ boots should be stiff; they are meant to limit the movement of the ankle. Boots should be properly fitted and replaced when needed.

    Figure Skating Resources

    Sport-related Physicals
    Figure skating is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce the risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing figure skating injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to participants, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training; and
    2. Ensuring that injured participants are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to skating to prevent re-injury or chronic injury.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into a training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in injury.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help reduce the risk of injury. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to figure skating.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Figure skating is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce the risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Preparticipation Physical Evaluation.

    Training and Equipment
    Recommendations for reducing injury among figure skaters include using a harness to learn new moves, limiting repetitive jumps during practice, and avoiding the introduction of new skills during growth spurts. Athletes should train and condition off the ice in addition to on-ice training. Encourage figure skaters to make sure their boots are properly fitted and replaced when needed.

    Figure Skating Resources for Athletes, Coaches, Officials, and Teachers