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Common Hip Injuries for Skaters

Things You Need to Know About Inline Skating and Hip Injuries

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Common Hip Injuries for Skaters
© PEDRE, iStockphoto.com

Your hips are the unique and complex connection of the ball-shaped ends of your femur bones and a socket-shaped portions of your pelvis called the acetabulum. A circular layer of cartilage give your hip joints stability. Tissue and ligaments connect your femur and pelvic bones. Muscles in your hip and your groin muscles complete the system.

Your hips are strong and stable when healthy, but the movements involved in inline skating put stress on your hips, and jump landings, falls and collisions may eventually cause hip muscle strains, hip pointers, hip bursitis, femoroacetabular iimpingement (FAI) or other traumatic hip injuries while skating. Too much skating or poor training can lead to overuse injuries to your hip joints, and certain conditions, like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, both common in older adults, may affect hip health.

Hip Contusions

Hip contusions due to falls on the outside of the hip are common and cause bruising, swelling and tenderness. Treatment with P.R.I.C.E. and analgesics are recommended.

Hip Pointer

A hip pointer is easy to identify. A skater knows it has happened when the first thing that makes contact in a fall or collision is the outer part of the pelvic hip bone, which is called the iliac crest. It could also happen from a direct blow taken in a contact roller sport. A hip pointer is a type of deep bruise, or contusion, on the top of the pelvic bone that protrudes on each side of your waistline. This injury hurts and may keep you off skates for days or weeks, but won't stop a skating career as long as it is treated properly.

Hip Bursitis

Bursae (the plural for bursa) are small sacs of lubricating fluid located at various joints in the body that act as shock absorbers and cushions between bones and the surrounding soft tissue. If the sacs become irritated or inflamed, the condition is called bursitis. Hip bursitis happens when one or more bursa sacs are irritated and become inflamed due to a traumatic injury like collisions or falls on the hip, overuse, hip bone spurs, bad posture, arthritis or differences in a skater's leg lengths. Hip bursitis is a common source of hip pain, but it is more likely to affect older adults.

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

There are some conditions that you may be born with that may eventually affect your skating. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition that affects athletes in many sports including inline and roller sports. FAI happens when abnormal bone growth on both the femur (the large bone in the upper leg) and the acetabulum (the socket part of the pelvis) constantly contact each other.

Femoroacetabular impingement mostly affects young adults, and symptoms might include:

  • Intermittent or sharp groin or hip pain
  • Pain that spreads to the thigh, buttocks or lower back
  • Pain that increases gradually unless it follows an injury
  • Pain that get more intense with specific movements
  • Hips that give way or buckle

Overuse Hip Injuries

Skaters in any skating discipline can experience overuse hip injuries. These injuries happen when a specific area of the hip sustains repeated trauma or stress from increasing training durations, adding to the difficultly of tricks, jumps or stunts or other dramatic changes in skating style or effort. Symptoms of an overuse hip injury begin as mild pain that increases with time or activity.

Treatment for Hip Injuries

There are many sources of hip pain for athletes beyond the common ones shown above. The correct treatment will be determined by the cause of the problem. Skaters who experience any of the symptoms above or other hip problems should see their primary care physician or a sports medicine specialist to determine the cause and develop a treatment and recovery plan. Most hip injuries will require rest, and should be supported with an appropriate rehabilitation physical therapy program.

How Skaters Can Prevent Hip Injuries

Many skaters have relatively weak core muscles (back, abdomen and torso) and not enough flexibility. Proper warm-up, stretching, strengthening and cool down of identified areas of limited flexibility and weakness can help prevent hip injuries. Padding the area with special crash pads protective gear may prevent some of these hip injuries that are caused by falls and collisions.

Your hips are not the only thing that may get injured or overused when you are inline skating. Learn as much as you can about potential injuries, and you may be able to avoid many of them.

Please note this document has not been medically reviewed, and the information may not be medically accurate.

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