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from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Diseases & Conditions



Staying Healthy

Roller Skating Injury Prevention

Each year, more than 11 million Americans, from young children to older adults, will go roller skating. This includes skating with:

  • Inline skates, which have 4 wheels aligned front to back like a blade
  • 2x2 wheel skates (also commonly referred to as "roller skates"), which have 2 wheels in front and 2 in back

Whether skating fast or standing still, you can get an injury — from fractures or dislocations to more serious injuries to the head, like concussion — if you do not follow the rules of the sport.

The key to remember is that many roller skating injuries are preventable if you follow these safety tips:

  • Learn the basic skills of the sport — especially how to stop properly — before venturing into traffic or onto a crowded path.
  • Wear a helmet, wrist protectors, and knee and elbow pads. Choose a helmet that is appropriate for skating. Make sure the pads fit properly so they don't slip out of place or fall off while you are skating.
  • Always put on protective gear before putting on your skates.
  • Perform warm-up exercises before and after skating.
  • Obey traffic signals, stay on the correct side of the road, be on the lookout for stopped cars, and don't weave in and out of lanes.
  • Avoid skating on crowded walkways.
  • Stay alert — watch out for curbs, potholes, rocks, broken glass, cracks in the pavement, open car doors, pedestrians (including people on bicycles, skates, skateboards, or scooters), animals, and other potential obstacles.
  • Don't walk your dog while skating — if the dog yanks the leash hard or suddenly takes off running, it will be harder to keep your balance, and you will be more likely to fall.
  • Don't wear headphones or ear buds while skating; you won't be able to hear if something is coming toward you or someone is trying to get your attention to warn you about an obstacle.
  • Do not skate on wet or icy surfaces.
  • Stay cool when it's hot outside. Skating may not seem like a strenuous sport, but it's easy to get overheated or dehydrated when skating in hot, humid weather. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after skating. Get more tips: Heat Injury and Heat Exhaustion

Skate boots must always fit properly. Here are some tips you can use when purchasing inline skates or 2x2 wheel skates:

  • Don't buy boots that put too much pressure on any area of your foot; the pressure can cause blisters.
  • Choose the boot size at the end of the day or after training, when feet will be at their largest.
  • For children whose feet are still growing, don't buy boots that they will "grow into." The boots should fit properly at the time your child wears them.
  • When selecting the size of the boot, wear the same type of sock that will be worn when skating.
  • Kick both feet into the back of the boots before buckling or lacing and skating.
  • Be certain the heel doesn't move up and down in the boot during skating.

Last Reviewed

August 2023

Contributed and/or Updated by

Jocelyn Ross Witstein, MD, FAAOS

Peer-Reviewed by

Thomas Ward Throckmorton, MD, FAAOS

AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.