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Knee Injuries for Inline and Roller Skaters

Learn About Knee Pain in Roller Sports Activities



X-ray of knee with sports injury.

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

The possibility of getting a knee injury is lurking around the corner in every active inline or roller skater's training sessions or roller sports activities. It is not surprising that your knees are at the top of the list of possible pain or injury, since these joints make use of a complicated combination of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage to make them work properly.

Your knees are made up of four major ligaments that are important for skaters because they connect bones and control leg movement:

The bones in your knees include the femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella (knee cap). These bones move your legs and support your body. The meniscus cartilage between the femur and tibia is important for skaters, because it absorbs impacts when you are skating.

Common Knee Injuries for Skaters

The anterior cruciate ligament injuries and the meniscus injuries are the most common knee injury sites for skaters in any discipline. Most of those knee injuries happen when a skater makes a landing from jumps and stunts or makes a sudden change in direction. The impact of the landing and any twisting motions used to change direction can make ligaments and cartilage tear away from the bones that they support.

The second most common parts of the knee that skaters injure are the posterior cruciate and the medial collateral. These injuries usually happen when you land on your knees during a fall or hit them against another surface like an aggressive ramp structure. These falls can even fracture the femur, tibia or patella.

Knee pain can have many possible causes:

  • A tear in a ligament, a tendon, a muscle or cartilage (the cushion that prevents bones from rubbing together)
  • Repetition of the same movement or overuse
  • Lack of stability and strength in the hips or surrounding muscles

Most falls on the knees result in nothing worse than a bruise, but a hard blow to the knee can affect the alignment of the knee cap and wear down the cartilage causing chondromalacia. Treatment and prevention includes off-skates exercises to strengthen leg muscles.

Twisting the knee on a bad jump landing can also injure knee ligaments. A knee sprain or rupture of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) causes pain on the inside of the knee and instability that might prevent skating for a few weeks. Fortunately, these injuries usually heal with rest and physical therapy. Damage to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) can be recognized by the knee collapsing with the pressure of weight – and may even need surgery. Your primary care physician or sports medicine specialist may order a MRI scan for a proper diagnosis.

How to Prevent Knee Injuries

There are several things that can help prevent knee injuries for inline and roller skating enthusiasts:

  • Wearing knee pads to absorb impacts
  • Properly fitted skates and shoes for support
  • Warming up before skating
  • Proper nutrition for bone, muscle and joint health

Cross training can also help you avoid knee pain. Varying the exercise activities to use different muscles and use muscles in different ways. But, remember that he wrong cross-training regimen can also cause injuries.

If knee pain starts, eliminate the skating activity or movements that are the source until a qualified trainer has checked to see if that your technique is correct, since bad technique is a common cause of joint problems for some skaters. Any persistent pain, recurring pain or pain from a specific incident should be evaluated by your primary care physician or sports medicine specialist right away.

Other Common Roller Sports Injuries

Skating injuries are always lurking on the horizon. Some may be overuse injuries and others may be acute or traumatic. Learn about the things you can do to prevent, identify or get professional treatment for some common inline skating injuries:

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

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