Getting hurt skateboarding is as inevitable as shitting your pants after eating Indian food – we know what we’re getting into when we play with fire. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro, or just a dad trying your kid’s board after a few cold ones, slamming happens to the best of us.
A lot of injuries go untreated and end up getting worse as they heal improperly, which can cause major problems down the road. Neglected injuries are usually due to either lack of funds to cover a hospital bill, or just simple ignorance. To help, we put together a short guide of the most common injuries in skating as well as some tips on what you can do to not fuck up the healing process so you can be back on your board and getting hurt again in no time.
Mandatory annoying disclaimer: We aren’t full blown doctors, although we did ask one for advice. This is just a guide for educational and entertainment purposes, so please don’t try to sue us or something if your life goes horribly wrong. Thanks.
What it is: The classic shin biter. Most commonly seen while learning tre flips. The board goes and hits you right in the middle of the shin, bringing instant tears and two hands to the area. The next move is usually sitting down and contemplating going home.
Severity Factor: 2/10, just because it’s the worst. Apply some ice or walk it off, but if it starts bruising and swelling, maybe it’s time to pack it in for the day. Or you could start being useful while injured and film your friends.
How to deal with it: Take a seat, or if you’re friends are laughing at you, maybe try your trick again to either shut them up or make them laugh harder.
What to avoid: The friends who are laughing at you.
Rehab: Giving a stone cold stunner to the friends who laughed at you.
knocked out Tooth
What it is: As the title implies, you lost a tooth or two. I’m not talking a chip, I’m talking spitting blood and enamel on the asphalt as your friends stare on in horror.
Severity Factor: 3/10. You’ll live, but damn it’s going to hurt.
How to deal with it: If you want to try and save it, it’s important to get to a dentist right away. You only have up to an hour to save it. If you can put it back in the socket, do so carefully. If you can’t, keep it in your mouth or in a cup of your spit and bring it to the dentist. If it can be saved, it’ll take 4-8 weeks for the tooth to reattach itself to the bone.
What to avoid: First and foremost is to avoid eating anything but soft, warm food for a while. Dentists recommend chewing on the other side of your mouth where the tooth was knocked out. No alcohol for the first 24 hours, and avoid smoking as much as you can because it’ll slow down the healing process. You can brush your teeth 24 hours after it happened, but it’s recommended to avoid the tooth for a week. Also avoid using straws for 72 hours.
Rehab: Just follow the things to avoid mentioned above, and be careful with the pain meds they give you. Just follow the instructions your doctor or dentist tells you to and you should be fine.
What it is: Also known as a sprain, it’s when your foot twists and strains one or more ligaments in your ankle. It’s one of the most common skateboarding injuries, and if you haven’t rolled your ankle yet, you’ve either not been skating long or hard enough. If you can’t walk on it the next day, it’s very likely it’s broken. Some early signs and symptoms of it being sprained include bruising around the foot and heel, and the ankle area becoming visually swollen.
Severity factor: 1/10, you’re fine. It’s going to suck when you walk for a week or two, but that’s about as big of a concern as it gets. Some sprains can be worse than breaks if you take care of it improperly, so don’t fuck this one up.
How to deal with it: Ice it. 15-20 minutes on, and 20-30 minutes off as much as you can for the first 24-48 hours. This is going to reduce the swelling and relieve some pain. Don’t be an idiot and keep your foot in there for too long, or else you’re going to give yourself a cold related injury and people will laugh at you. After that, wrap it with a compression bandage. These can be anywhere from $10-$60, but they’re almost essential if you want the injury to heal properly. The bandage not only adds stability and support, it will also decrease the swelling.
What to avoid: The first 72 hours is going to be the most difficult. As crazy as it sounds, avoiding heat is important. Hot baths and heat packs are a big time no no. Heat encourages blood flow which will increase the bruising and swelling. But after the 72 hours, heat might be extremely relieving. An obvious one to add to the list is running or doing anything active. You have to keep off it for a while, so don’t rush it or you’ll be back to square one.
As much as drinking seems like the best remedy for any injury, alcohol should be avoided at all costs because it’ll increase the swelling and bleeding and make it heal slower. Avoid massaging it too, that does the same thing as alcohol. Just basically keep your foot iced and elevated while watching Netflix for 3 days, it’s that simple.
Rehab: Follow the steps above, and when you’re feeling good enough to start walking on it again just do simple exercises like drawing the alphabet with your big toe a few times a day to keep the blood flowing and keeping your muscles from getting stiff. Another exercise is standing on a step with your toes and lifting yourself a few times. It’s going to feel weird doing that first kickflip when you’re back on your board, but a few beers and a good session will have it back to normal.
What it is: …C’mon man.
Severity Factor: It can be as simple as a little tap to the ol’ purse or as bad as losing a nut or two. Let’s just say on the severity factory it’s a 10/10 just to be safe. Check yourself instantly after it happens. If there’s no blood or bruising, you’re not throwing up, or you’re not in excruciating pain – you might be fine. If not, I highly advise you rush to the hospital right away.
How to deal with it: Surgery and stitches might be the case if it’s severe enough. If it’s just a bad sacking, then just have a few shots of Jameson and wait it out. If you see your sack swelling up, you can ice it, but it’s definitely not going to be an enjoyable experience.
What to avoid: I had a friend who got kicked in the nuts by someone wearing a steel toe boot which ruptured one of his balls and he said getting boners hurt. I couldn’t find anything on Google about it but I believe him. So avoid getting a bone dawg, I guess?
Rehab: Apply ice if it’s swelling. Take over the counter meds for pain and swelling (or under the counter, I don’t care), and just follow doctor’s orders. There’s not really an exercise for getting your balls back to 100% other than just not getting sacked again.
What it is: Although the illustration might look funny, these are no laughing matter. A concussion is a serious traumatic brain injury. It’s caused by your head and brain moving rapidly back and forth, where the sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull (holy shit, right?). This can create chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging of brain cells. Basically, all the people we scoffed at when they asked why we weren’t wearing helmets were actually onto something. Here’s a list of symptoms signaling that you might have a concussion:
– Not thinking clearly
– Feeling slowed down
– Not being able to concentrate
– Not being able to remember
– Nausea and vomiting
– Fuzzy or blurry vision
– Sensitivity to light or noise
– Balance problems
– Feeling tired or having no energy
– Being easily upset or angered
If you have any of these symptoms, go to a hospital right away before you have to wear velcro shoes for the rest of your life.
Severity Factor: 11/10. I mean, read above. The very same organ helping you read this right now is temporarily (or sometimes permanently) fucked. You can die from this injury and it’s not to be taken lightly.
How to deal with it: The main thing is rest, you’ll need it to heal your brain. Go to the doctor, follow every step, and take care of yourself. There’s nothing much else to do other than follow their orders. If you see someone smoke their head off the ground and you’re wondering if they have a concussion, do the following:
– Ask them simple questions like their name, what day is it, where they are, etc.
– Check their eyes. If you have a flashlight, shine the light into their eyes. The pupils of the eyes focused completely on the light should go smaller. If they don’t, there’s a problem.
– Check for any changes in mental or physical state: are they throwing up, exhausted, or acting weird?
Call an ambulance or bring them to the hospital right away if you notice any of these things.
What to avoid: Avoid alcohol, drugs, video games, and other sustained computer use. For the love of god, do not get behind a car or operate heavy machinery where someone other than you can be killed. There’s been a long standing myth that you shouldn’t go to sleep after a concussion, but that’s been debunked. Your brain needs sleep to heal and recover.
Rehab: Rest, relax, ask others for help, especially if you’re wandering around confused outside wearing nothing but a helmet.
What it is: Your shit’s busted. Maybe your arm is dangling, or it’s just a hairline fracture on your leg, but either way, it’s not good. The pain will be severe and it’s common to go into shock. Stay as calm as you can—even if your ankle is touching your hip—and get your ass to an emergency room.
Severity Factor: 5/10 to 10/10. I mean, Mike Mo broke his leg so bad that he almost had to have it amputated. Assess the situation and seek medical help as soon as possible.
How to deal with it: There’s no way around it, you need to go to a hospital. Untreated fractures will heal improperly. This can lead to your limb being crooked and out of place, arthritis, and infection. As mentioned above, it’s not uncommon for a person with a fracture to go into shock. If this happens, lay the person down and if possible elevate their legs. However, if their leg is what’s broken, do not touch or move it.
What to avoid: Taking your cast off too early. A lot of people take their casts off a few weeks in and the bone never fully heals properly. Use your discretion and don’t be an idiot. A month or two in a cast isn’t as bad as having to go back to the doctor and getting them to re-break the bone because it healed wrong.
Rehab: Once you’re out of the cast, it’s going to take some time before it’s back to normal. Do some physiotherapy exercises on the limb that feel comfortable to build back some muscle. The bone is going to be weak, so take it easy and consume some calcium.
What it is: The classic swellbow, otherwise known as Olecranon Bursitis. A swellbow is caused by hitting the tip of your elbow bone, which causes inflammation and liquid (aka bursa) to fill up under the skin, making it look like a nut sack hanging from your arm.
Severity Factor: 1/10 to 7/10. A swellbow can either go away by itself, or it can easily get infected. If the liquid isn’t going away, surgery is going to be needed.
How to deal with it: If it’s not broken or infected, doctor’s recommend just not touching it or wearing an elbow pad (LOL). It’s possible the doctor may want to drain your elbow, but other than that, just relax.
What to avoid: Slamming on it again, trust.
Rehab: Relaxation and an ibuprofen. You should be good in a few days…unless it’s broken then it’s surgery time.
What it is: As old age takes its toll, sore knees and ankles are unavoidable. Regardless, if you’re jumping down sets or even skating curbs, you’re going to feel the years of impact on your joints some day.
Severity Factor: 0/10. Deal with it. It’s not going anywhere until they invent a way to give you robot legs.
How to deal with it: Stretching, warming up, and light exercise can sometimes cause relief. See a doctor or a physiotherapist and see if they can figure out a remedy specific to your needs.
What to avoid: Canvas shoes. Find the proper footwear that’s comfortable and effective and you might just see a huge difference.
Rehab: There’s not much else you can do other than anything mentioned above. Think of your newly acquired permanent damage as a skateboarding badge of honor. It’s also fun to complain about being in pain at any opportunity you get.
What it is: When two bones separate from the joint or socket. You’re going to know right away if it’s dislocated because the limb will be completely immobile and dangling there. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to be disgusting.
Severity Factor: 5/10. You’re not going to die from it, but it’s going to suck a lot to pop that bone back in.
How to deal with it: A lot of people get someone to pop it back into the joint, but regardless you should always go see a doctor right after it happens. It’s actually recommended not to move or touch the person if they dislocate anything under the waist. Check blood circulation around the injury by pressing firmly on the skin in the affected area, which should turn white, then regain color within a couple of seconds after you stop pressing on it. Don’t do this if there’s a cut around the injury, idiot. If there’s no circulation, call 911. If there’s ligament damage, it can take up to 6-12 weeks to heal, so just keep it in a sling or brace until it’s all healed up.
What to avoid: I think it goes without saying, but do not lift heavy shit while you’re healing from a dislocated limb. Avoid any sort of physical activity that can damage the limb before it’s fully healed and just relax, download the entire box set of the Sopranos, watch porn in between episodes, and complain as much as you can.
Rehab: Small exercises to help the joint heal and keep the blood flowing are going to speed up the process. No exercises that require weight or strain, just little things like movement and gaining strength slowly. The goal of rehabilitation is to gradually increase the joint’s strength and restore its range of motion.
What it is: Slamming and sliding against the ground, causing a large scrape anywhere on your body. It means you were skating fast enough to warrant an injury. Good work. It’s another one of those unavoidable skateboarding injuries.
Severity Factor: 1/10. It’s just a scrape that hurts like hell for a day or two and then will scab over. It’s not a big deal at all unless it gets—you guessed it—infected.
How to deal with it: Clean it. This is going to suck, but there’s probably dirt in it so you need to clean the area with mild soap and water. If it hurts too much to touch, then just spray water on it. Also don’t scrub like you’re trying to get a dick drawn with Sharpie off your skin. It’s going to make it worse if you don’t go easy on it. Get a bandage, put a layer of triple-antibiotic ointment on it, and change it once a day. If the bandage is having a hard time coming loose off the scrab, for the love of fuck DO NOT yank it off. Just soak it in water for 10-20 minutes and it’ll come off smoothly.
What to avoid: Getting dirt in it. Just clean it and keep it clean, or else it’ll get infected. If you see redness, swelling, the scrape feels hot or secretes pus, it could be infected. See a doctor and tell them you had one job and you fucked it up.
Rehab: Not much else to do other than not doing it again in the same spot while it’s healing. You’re good to go skate as soon as possible.
What it is: A cut deep and bloody enough to warrant some stitches. If you’ve been applying pressure to it for 10 minutes and the bleeding isn’t slowing down, it might be time to consider going and getting some stitches or staples. Fun!
Severity Factor: 7/10. Go get your shit fixed before it gets infected or you bleed out. It’s going to leave a cool scar and a good story, so just get it sorted out and brag about it after.
How to deal with it: First things first is, if you can elevate the wound above your heart, it’s going to help with the bleeding. Get a cloth (clean, obviously) and apply pressure. This is important: if there’s some sort of object stuck in your cut DO NOT REMOVE IT. I know you see it all the time in movies or on TV, but that’s the dumbest thing you can do in the situation. The object stuck in your body is acting like a plug. Do not remove it and wait till you get to the doctor. Just go to the emergency room and get it treated. Home remedies like super glue or ignoring it can just get it infected.
What to avoid: It doesn’t matter if you have stitches or staples, keep the area of the wound dry for 24 to 48 hours. After that time’s up, gently wash around the area one to two times a day with cool water and soap. Clean as close to the wound as possible without touching the staples or stitches directly. Dab with a towel and again DO NOT rub hard or go directly onto it. Try to avoid any physical activity until your doctor (not you or someone else) takes them out. Don’t get dirt, mud, or sand in it, and avoid going in public swimming pools you gross bastard.
Rehab: There’s a bunch of creams and ointments people swear by to speed up the healing process and to prevent scars. I’m not going to list them because you can figure out what’s right for you. Just chill out and don’t get it dirty.
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March 30, 2017 5:52 pm
These illustrations were far out.
March 30, 2017 8:27 pm
Jenkem is the real skate “bible”
March 31, 2017 12:38 pm
Yeah, good article and illustrations. Did the “rolled ankle” guy have his legs put on backwards?
March 31, 2017 12:52 pm
Thank you skateboarding.