Cycling, skiing, and snowboarding may top the list of sporting activities that land BC residents in the ER, but skateboarding claims its fair share of broken bones, fractures, muscles tears, sprains, and pains. This is especially true in Greater Vancouver, home to numerous skateboarding events, ranging from the world famous VANS Skate Park Series to waves of smaller community gatherings. The Lower Mainland has a disproportionately (compared to most Canadian cities) high number of skateparks, with our very own Burnaby having some of the best in the country, including Confederation Skatepark on Penzance Drive and Bonsor Skatepark (full pipe!) near Metrotown. Then there’s the uber-cool duo of Leeside Skatepark and Hastings Skatepark at PNE, just 20 minutes from our clinic. Simply put, skateboarding in Vancouver is growing in popularity more than ever before, but with it will comes a greater number of injuries. Today, we are taking a look at how physical therapy is a necessity for skateboarders of all skill and interest levels.
4 Big Benefits of Physical Therapy for Casual and Competitive Skateboarders
1. Necessary to Adequately Recover from Common Skateboarding Injuries
There are numerous injuries that will happen after years of skateboarding, but for the purposes of this topic (physical therapy) we’ll leave the abrasions, scratches, scrapes, concussions, breaks and fractures out of it, and instead focus on the common impediments to muscles, joints, and ligaments. These include (but are certainly not exclusive to) the following:
- AC joint injury
- Achilles tendon rupture
- Achilles tendonitis
- ACL injury
- Adductor tendinopathy
- Ankle sprain
- Anterior ankle impingement
- Calf muscle tear
- Chondromalacia patella injury
- Gluteal tendinopathy
- Groin strain
- Hamstring strain
- Hip bursitis
- Knee ligament injury
- Knee bursitis
- Lateral collateral ligament injury
- Lower back pain
- Medial collateral ligament sprain
- Meniscus tear
- Patellar tendonitis
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear
- Piriformis syndrome
- Plantar fasciitis (more on this very common skateboarder issue in item #3 below)
- Shin splints
- Thigh strain
It’s a long list, isn’t it? And we left quite a few out for the sake of keeping things succinct. The point though, is that all of the above will directly be addressed by physical therapy. The ER or family physician may patch, cast, and wrap up an injury on the day of, but only a physiotherapist can help you rehabilitate the injury and get you back up and riding, when together you’ve decided that you’re ready. Skateboarders partake in a wide variety of physio-guided treatments, including manual therapy, laser therapy, and chiropractic, along with acupuncture and IMS dry needling.
The list of common skateboarder injuries may be long, but so is the list rehabilitation treatments and therapies provided at a reputable clinic. It’s worth nothing that greater success in rehabilitation comes when the consultation occurs within two days of an injury, so if you don’t want a sustained injury to become a nagging lifelong one, be sure to consult with a physiotherapist as soon as you are able to.
2. Will Identify Injuries You Didn’t Know You Had
You’ll typically know when you break, fracture, or significantly (Grade 2 or 3) tear something, as visual identification, pain, and/or complete loss of function are key indicators. These are the injuries that send you to the hospital. However, remember that long list in item #1 above? Many won’t be obvious from the get go. Some slowly creep up on you, and are far too often dismissed at nagging pain or discomfort that will go away in time. And some do. However, they typically return, with sufferers opting to live with the ailments instead of properly identifying the cause and nipping it in the bud. A consultation with a physiotherapist will help you identify underlying and even impending injuries, be they within smaller stabilizer muscles or through your core, that are causing you chronic pain and discomfort, and through the aforementioned treatments and therapies may very well be able to eradicate them for good.
3. Fixing Plantar Fasciitis
We addressed this ailment in item #1, but it bears its own chapter. Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain in skateboarders. The plantar fascia is the flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes, providing support to the arch of your foot, so you can see how important it is when it comes to skating. When strained, your plantar fascia may get weak, swollen, irritated, and/or inflamed. This will result in pain and irritation in your heel and along the bottom of your foot when you ride on your board. The pain will also persist after a session and again the next AM when you get up from your slumber, stand, and walk.
Physical therapy treatments and solutions are available to directly heal this injury. For one, the solution may in-part be found through orthotics, which are custom inserts that you can use for your skate shoes. Electrotherapy and modalities, manual therapy, and laser therapy are also effective treatments for plantar fasciitis. In addition to in-clinic treatment, your physical therapist will provide you with at-home exercises to address this all too common problem, including foam roller work.
A physical therapist is expertly trained in addressing plantar fasciitis, and by default, is therefore an expert in skateboarder injury prevention and rehabilitation.
4. Can Be Tailored to Improve Performance Too
So far we’ve spent a lot of time discussing skateboarder injury rehabilitation. However, it’s time to switch focus with a look at how physiotherapy can help prevent the common injuries and also improve performance. After all, with skateboarding making its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, the sport is getting the validation it deserves, and pretty soon you’ll be seeing more support for this highly competitive sport from local schools, community centers, and with a wider variety of funded programs.
While many people assuming “failed tricks” leads to the bulk of skateboarding injuries, statistics have shown that a greatest number (37 percent) of the injuries occurred because of a loss of balance. This is especially true of casual (non-competitive) board riders, but can apply to those of all skill levels all the same. Physical therapy offers you the tools you need to improve your balance, which will serve you well when riding on roads, ramps, rails, and pipes alike, and in-turn help keep you free from falls and subsequent injuries. Core strength is also essential to performance and injury-prevention, so be sure to find a clinic that focuses on core fitness. In addition, a sports physiotherapist will provide you with a tutorial on athletic taping (aka k-taping) so that you (as applicable) can adopt a pre-skate regime for improved performance. Lastly, a physical therapist will work with you to develop a customized movement, stretching, and exercise plan that will help you accomplish your goals, whether you are looking to become more competitive, or to simply get more fun out of your sessions.
Before you hit the deck, contact Absolute PhysioCare in Burnaby to schedule a consultation and learn more about how physical therapy will help you get more out of skateboarding.