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Speed Skating Injuries Minimal

Speed skating is a popular winter sport in areas such as the northern United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and Japan. Speed skating includes traditional long course events, as well as short track speed skating. Data from the recent Olympics in Sochi (2014) and Vancouver (2010) suggest that speed skating is a relatively safe sport. In Sochi, the rate of injury was 4.5 per 100 athletes in speed skating and slightly higher in short track speed skating (8.5 per 100 athletes).1 These were among the lowest rates of injuries for all sports at the Sochi games. All of the athletes recovered within seven days of injury and all but one recovered within seven days of injury in short track speed skating. Injury rates were similar for male and female speed skaters.

Injury rates at the Vancouver Olympics were similar for speed skaters with an overall injury rate of 3 per 100 athletes.2 Interestingly, no male speed skaters were injured at the 2010 Olympics. Although speed skaters are known to have a high incidence of low back pain, there is relatively little data on the types of injuries that are likely to occur in speed skating athletes. A study of injuries among short track speed skaters reported that an incidence of injury of 64 percent during the course of one season of competition.3

The average time loss per injury was 30 days, with an additional 20 days of reduced intensity training. The knee was the most common location for injury, followed by the ankle, spine, leg and groin. The most common injuries types were cuts (25 percent) and fractures (25 percent). The most common injuries during competition included shoulder dislocations/separations, groin strains, concussions, and knee contusions. In a recent study of young speed skaters, approximately 5 percent demonstrated muscle tightness while 15 percent had generalized loose ligaments.4 Muscle tightness was associated with ankle sprains and knee inflammation while loose ligaments were associated with lower back pain in male skaters.

The relative lack of data on injuries in skaters likely reflects the focused participation and interest in the sport as well as a relatively low injury rate. Short track skating does appear to put participants at higher risk than traditional speed skating.

For more information on preventing injuries on the ice visit STOP Sports Injuries.


1. Soligard T, Steffen K, Palmer-Green D, Aubry M, Grant ME, Meeuwisse W, Mountjoy M, Budgett R, Engebretsen L. Sports injuries and illnesses in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Br J Sports Med. 2015. Apr;49(7):441-7. 2. Engebretsen L, Steffen K, Alonso JM, Aubry M, Dvorak J, Junge A, Meeuwisse W, Mountjoy M, Renström P, Wilkinson M. Sports injuries and illnesses during the Winter Olympic Games 2010. Br J Sports Med. 2010. Sep;44(11):772-80. 3. Quinn A, Lun V, McCall J, Overend T. Injuries in short track speed skating. Am J Sports Med. 2003. Jul-Aug;31(4):507-10. 4. Okamura S, Wada N, Tazawa M, Sohmiya M, Ibe Y, Shimizu T, Usuda S, Shirakura K. Injuries and disorders among young ice skaters: relationship with generalized joint laxity and tightness. Open Access J Sports Med. 2014. Aug 18;5:191-5.

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