For a lot of teens and young adults, skateboarding is a wonderful way to spend a spring or summer afternoon. It’s a great way to get exercise, enjoy the fresh area and show off physical prowess and creativity. But like many great sporting activities, there’s a degree of risk involved.
At Patterned Concrete, we’ve been privileged to build a number of local skateparks. We’re glad to collaborate with both public and private entities to help provide these sources of diversion. We built Bolton, 8th Street, King City, and Woodstock skateparks. We’re proud of our work. But we also want everyone to be able to enjoy skateboarding safely.
Where to Skate and Shred
One key to skateboarding safety is doing it in a location that’s not going to put you or others at risk. It can always be fun, but it’s important to choose the right time and place for it, like most things in life.
Skateparks are the best and safest place to enjoy yourself. When possible, try to do your skating at your local park that’s designed for it. This will help keep you and others safe.
You should never ride your board in the street. Even if you’re experienced, there are so many factors you can’t control. Drivers may not see you until it’s too late for them to stop. Someone may be getting out of a parked car and open their door without realizing you’re coming up behind them. A child or a pet might dart out between cars when you least expect it. Staying off the street isn’t about your skill – it’s about all the other things that you have no control over.
In some places, skating on sidewalks may be legal, but it can still be dangerous. You can’t predict what pedestrians will do or how they’ll move. That means you might wind up running into someone when you least expect it, hurting both them and yourself. So even where it’s allowed, try to do it as little as possible.
Also, be sure to respect both private and public property. Skating and especially shredding can cause damage to statues, steps and more. Avoid doing damage to your city by only skating in approved areas.
And of course, always obey the law!
What to Wear While Skateboarding
Let’s face it: hardly anyone likes to wear protective equipment. But even though it might not be fashionable, it’s far better than breaking an arm or getting a concussion.
One of the first things to keep in mind is what not to wear. Or at least, what not to have in your pockets. If you fall – and you most likely will, especially if you’re practicing new tricks – the items you have with you can become hazardous. So be sure not to carry anything hard or sharp that could hurt you worse than just the fall.
When it comes to putting on gear, your helmet is key. No matter how hard-headed your parents may say you are, the reality is that our heads are extremely fragile. Any impact to the head can be dangerous. Today science knows more about concussions than ever and the damage they can do is scary. So it’s far better to be safe than sorry – hopefully, you never hit your head even with the helmet, but it’s definitely worth the precaution.
Elbow and knee pads are also keys to staying safe. With most falls, you’re likely going to bump one or the other. That can lead to scratches and cuts but also damage to these joints as well.
Wrist guards are another piece of gear that’s good to have. Our instinct is to always brace our fall with our hands, and wrist guards can help protect against a bad twist or sprain. If you’re into tricks that involve bracing with your hands to do handstands, turns or other maneuvers, they can help strengthen your support, too.
The right shoes, too, are a key part of your gear. You need a good grip on your board so not just any shoe will do. The ones with gummy rubber soles are best. And of course, it’s never a good idea to use sandals or flip-flops – you’re far more likely to break a toe that way, and that’s going to severely limit the time you have to skate!
Even with the right gear, it’s important to learn to fall correctly. While our instinct is to try to brace ourselves with our hands, it’s often better to try to land on areas with more padding – like the thigh or even the butt. Also, even though it’s against our natural reaction, try to relax so that your body can absorb the impact. The more tense and rigid you are, the more it’s going to hurt.
Do A General Checkup Before Skating
There’s nothing like grabbing your board and starting to skate. But it’s important to check the board and surroundings out first to make sure everything is safe. It doesn’t take long and will help prevent accidents!
Give your board a good once-over before taking it out for each ride. Make sure all the wheels are fastened tightly. With all the impact and vibration, they do tend to work loose over time! It doesn’t take much to do a quick check.
A quick look at the deck is helpful, too, to make sure there’s no tiny cracks or other problems.
Make sure all your gear is in good shape, as well. Do all the straps work as intended? If anything’s loose, cracked, or not working properly, it pretty much loses its effectiveness and it’s time to invest in a replacement. Of course, make sure your shoes are tied, too!
Finally, try to look over the area where you’ll be skating before you start. Have a quick look to make sure there’s no rocks, trash, or broken glass around. And if you’re going to be doing a jump or other trick, make sure no one is behind any blind spots. The last thing you want to do is land on someone when you jump that wall!
Safety checks aren’t the most glamorous part of skateboarding, but they’re definitely the most important. By choosing the right places to skate, using appropriate equipment and being aware of your surroundings, you’ll minimize the risk of injury to yourself and others, and of damage to property. And that way, you’ll get far more enjoyment out of your pastime!