The Joint Ventures' Blog

Skating Safely

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ice skating is a wonderful activity to take part in, especially as the cold winter months approach. But a few things need to be addressed before you hit the ice to ensure you have a good time and ice skate safely. First, you need to make sure you have proper balance standing on flat, level ground. On ice, your base of support is constantly moving and changing. Without proper balance, ice skating will present a new set of challenges for you that could potentially lead to injury. A good way to check your balance is to practice standing still on one foot for 5-10 seconds without disturbances.                                                        

The next most important thing to ice skating safely is making sure your skates fit properly. The skate should fit you snug, but comfortable. Your big toe, when wiggled, should graze against the front of the skate, but it should not be forced. The skate should fit snug along the sides of the ankles, so as to provide enough side-to-side stability at the foot and ankle. Once everything passes the “pre-check”, you’re ready to skate!

Once you're out on the ice, you want to be “soft in the knees”, with a slight bend in the knees, and your weight along the middle of your feet in order to engage your quadriceps (muscles on the front of your thigh), hamstrings (muscles on the back of your thigh), and gluts (your powerful butt muscle). As for side-to-side alignment with your ankles during skating, slowly tilt your ankles side-t- side. It is extremely important to make sure you understand the feeling of your ankles going in and out. By understanding this feeling, you can avoid overly stressing the bones on one side of your foot and ankle. New skaters tend to have their feet out wide, which turns your ankles inward. Though this could be beneficial for balance purposes, it's detrimental to the health of your foot and ankles.  You can see in the photo below a dad and child ice skating. Note how the Dad (on the right) has good ankle alignment and stability; while the child’s lack of proper alignment and stability could cause problems in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and even the low back.                                                       

In order to strengthen the feet and ankle, here are some exercises you can perform at home everyday:

  1. Draw the ABC’s with your foot and ankle ONLY (Draw BIG capital letters!).
  2. Squeeze a towel with your bare feet/toes.  Try to clench the muscles on the bottom of your foot to "grab" the towel.


For more information, you can call our office at 617-536-1161 to set up an appointment, or email Jason Ortolano, PT, DPT, at


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