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Author Topic: Arm and shoulder padding/protection  (Read 270 times)

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Offline Nikita

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Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« on: February 07, 2018, 10:44:47 AM »
Hello! Does anyone have advice or ideas about how to protect the arms and potentially shoulders during falls?

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2018, 12:22:39 PM »
Some adult figure skaters wear knee and elbow pads along with wrist guards.  A long-sleeved shirt or jacket provides protection against scratches.

If you're really worried, wear hockey pads.
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Offline Query

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2018, 05:35:14 PM »
I usually wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves to prevent scratches and abrasions. But padding can be very useful to people who haven't yet learned to fall gently. There is little reason NOT to use it, if you are worried.

Some people pad elbows, as well as other body parts, like knees, the rear end, and the base of the spine. Some wear helmets that provide adequate head coverage.

Regardless of what you wear, if you aren't relaxed, or you try to stop on one body part rather than rolling or sliding through the motion to spread the impact over the whole body, you can break or tear or dislocate something.

To learn to fall gently by accident, and improve reflex speeds, practice falling gently on purpose, starting with conditions where a fall can't do much damage - e.g. soft mats, start in sitting or kneeling pose - then progress to realistic skating conditions. Make it a game - how far can you slide on the ice? (Please don't slide into other skaters, or get in their way. Use uncrowded ice.)

Relax, tuck your head forwards and roll backwards, or relax and slide forwards or sideways, and you will be fine, unless you have an extremely fragile body, or are already injured.

Wearing long sleeves and gloves, I like to touch my hands, then slide onto my arms and upper body.

(But: Don't push your shoulders past their safe range of motion in any direction. Some people can't raise their arms all the way, like I just descrbed. Some people can be hurt by pushing their arms too far across the front of the body, or too far up and back. I haven't personally seen that skating - it is more common in whitewater boating.)

Many people say that if you start to fall, bend your knees, so you will be closer to the ice, and often restores balance.

Most skating coaches cover falls in the first lesson, but some don't fall gently themselves. Some tell you "never fall forwards", or "never fall backwards" - but that isn't always easy or possible to follow. If you feel you need help that your particular coach can't give, try a modern dance coach, or an aikido instructor - though they are as much interested in the needs of their art as in being gentle.

Practice ways of restoring balance, so you fall less. Weight shifts. Various arm motions, like thrusting your arms fast in the direction of the fall. Tightening your core muscles helps stabilize the body - e.g., if someone bmps into you. Any of these things gives you a time to shift your foot positions or take an extra step. BUT always relax before impact if you can't prevent the fall.

Once you have learned, and/or are adequately padded, don't get too confident you can't be hurt any more. Don't do crazy things. If you get a cut or abrasion, wash it clean. (I've made both mistakes.)
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Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2018, 06:09:47 PM »
Some adult figure skaters wear knee and elbow pads along with wrist guards.  A long-sleeved shirt or jacket provides protection against scratches.

If you're really worried, wear hockey pads.


Thank you! I’m purchasing padding for the knees, tailbone/hips, wrists, and elbows. I don’t know if I’m missing anything. The more posts I read, the more body parts I’m reading are getting broken/bruised!

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2018, 06:11:07 PM »
I do wear knee and elbow pads under my clothes for the times that controlled landings aren't possible. Pads have really helped knees and elbows. However I have never suffered bruising or impact damage to my shoulders....

...but...

All the padding in the world won't help sometimes. I was attempting a CW twizzle on my left skate when I caught a blade and slammed to the ice. My left arm was overhead to the rear, and my rotating body rolled back onto the extended arm, trapping it while I was still rotating prone on the ice from the momentum. Something tore inside the shoulder. I suffered a rotator cuff injury that has permanently affected strength of my left arm in some motions. At it's worst, I couldn't even lift my arm to rest it on a car window sill nor could I sleep on my left side. Physical therapy helped a great deal, and it's mostly out of my mind now, but some motions remind me of the damage.

Keep in mind that I was in my mid-sixties when this happened, and was attempting a move I had not practiced for a while. Younger skaters might not have had any problem at all, but this old-timer took a hit.

EDIT: I hope that this didn't scare you from skating. Ninety-nine percent of my potential injuries were handled by the pads on elbows and knees, and by falling smartly.
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Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 06:33:58 PM »
Regardless of what you wear, if you aren't relaxed, or you try to stop on one body part rather than rolling or sliding through the motion to spread the impact over the whole body, you can break or tear or dislocate something. To learn to fall gently by accident, and improve reflex speeds.....

Wow, thank you so much for all your detailed tips on falling safely! I will practice the techniques you suggested and possibly also book a session with someone just for this purpose. I can’t believe how often and how badly skaters get hurt. It makes me nervous, but I’m going to do all I can to prevent a serious injury. Thank you again!! I really appreciate your help!  :)

Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 06:48:12 PM »
All the padding in the world won't help sometimes. I was attempting a CW twizzle on my left skate when I caught a blade and slammed to the ice. My left arm was overhead to the rear, and my rotating body rolled back onto the extended arm, trapping it while I was still rotating prone on the ice from the momentum. Something tore inside the shoulder. I suffered a rotator cuff injury that has permanently affected strength of my left arm in some motions.....


Yikes - that is frightening! Thank you for mentioning it, so I can try to do my best to avoid having that happen. It seems that sometimes it’s too late to change the course of a fall, but regardless, it’s good to know what can happen. I’m sorry you lost some strength in your arm! The more stories about skating injuries I read, the more I think I’m being crazy for attempting it haha. Hopefully nothing too bad happens. Thanks for reminding me that padding isn’t foolproof!

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 06:41:10 AM »

Thank you! I’m purchasing padding for the knees, tailbone/hips, wrists, and elbows. I don’t know if I’m missing anything. The more posts I read, the more body parts I’m reading are getting broken/bruised!
What about a helmet to protect your head, one of the most important parts of your body to protect? 

Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2018, 11:43:25 AM »
What about a helmet to protect your head, one of the most important parts of your body to protect? 

I’ll be looking for a helmet soon! Thank you :)

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2018, 01:56:59 PM »
I wear an Ice Halo (google the name, made in Canada).  For me it is more secure (less wobbly) than the hard shell Bern (brand name) helmet which I briefly used when returning to skating after a head injury at the rink.  Ice Halos come in two versions:  the standard and the HD (high density).  I have one of each.  Both have been effective during subsequent falls.  If you do go the hard helmet route my suggestion is to get one without a brim on the front.  A brim, even a short one, tends to direct you line of sight down rather than ahead while skating.  Looking down on the ice tips your head (an extra 10 lbs or so) forward which gets you up on your toe picks.  A lot of people don't like the look of safety head gear but I'm completely over the question of "does this ice halo make my head look fat?"  I wear it every time I skate including test sessions.

Offline Query

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2018, 06:34:15 PM »
(But: Don't push your shoulders past their safe range of motion in any direction. Some people can't raise their arms all the way, like I just descrbed. Some people can be hurt by pushing their arms too far across the front of the body, or too far up and back. I haven't personally seen that skating - it is more common in whitewater boating.)

The part of what I just said that is emphasized is contradicted by Bill's experience!

Apparently, it can occur to figure skaters too.

There is no such thing as a totally safe sport. If you refuse to do anything that is a little bit dangerous, you can't have any fun. Think of almost anything that is fun -
 life, sports, business, romance - doesn't it involve an element of risk? With reasonable precautions, I don't think recreational figure skating is any more dangerous than most sports, and quite a bit less dangerous than some. It is even possible that you are more likely to get hurt driving to skate than while skating itself.

Bill's injury could have been prevented by a properly done fall - as I'm sure he knows. Clearly, it has not prevented Bill from continuing to skate.

BTW, in this type of injury, just as in whitewater kayaking - an arm can fairly safely be held high, or somewhat back (though generally I don't favor that much), but not both. What happens is that your arm acts as a lever, and any force on it that pulls it farther back levers the end of the arm out of the shoulder socket. That can dislocate the shoulder, and/or tear muscles in the shoulder cuff - sometimes one, then the other. In addition, when most people hold their arms high, they naturally tend to pull the arm part way of the socket, even without external force - I guess because people in the wild would typically hold their arms high to reach and pick a fruit off of a very high branch, or something like that. CCA, the perhaps the biggest paddling safety organization in the U.S., warns strongly against letting the arm go up or back white paddling. 

(Apes, and I think most higher land animals have a ligament in the equivalent to our shoulder, which prevents such dislocation, and maybe prevents the limb from going the equivalent of up and back. This lets many apes swing freely through the trees, and maybe makes it safer to run on four legs. But we lost that ligament, presumably so we could throw things like rocks and spears and baseballs, overhand.) And, in fact, we do have a corresponding ligament in our legs. Which is one of the reasons our hips are much less mobile than our shoulders.

I'm reminded of a book on rock climbing. The author said that you only get hurt climbing if you make a mistake. Oh, so I said to myself, doesn't sound too dangerous. Then, a little later in the book, the author casually mentions that all of the friends he started climbing with were dead. Oh. Maybe not quite so safe. Likewise, I remember being told that most reasonably experienced paddlers had known a few others who had died.

Very few people die skating.

But skating, like most forms of dance, involves more or less the whole body. So, of course, almost anywhere on the body CAN be injured - and if you look for people who have been injured, you will eventually find almost all body parts can be injured. That doesn't mean they all will.

I think the most important thing to do to prevent injury while figure skating is to pick reasonably snug, supportive skates, and tie your laces as tight as you reasonably can. Based on my experience as a rink guard, making sure people tied their laces tight prevented all injuries while I was on the ice during the several months that I did it. Eventually someone complained - many people don't like to be pushed to take precautions - so I stopped, and on-ice injuries resumed.
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Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2018, 01:41:54 AM »
Ice Halos come in two versions:  the standard and the HD (high density). Both have been effective during subsequent falls.  If you do go the hard helmet route my suggestion is to get one without a brim on the front.  A brim, even a short one, tends to direct you line of sight down rather than ahead while skating.  Looking down on the ice tips your head....


Thank you for the useful advice! I hadn’t considered how a brim could affect skating, and it’s great to know both Ice Halos performed equally well on the ice! I appreciate the help! :)

Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2018, 02:05:37 AM »

.... an arm can fairly safely be held high, or somewhat back (though generally I don't favor that much), but not both...In addition, when most people hold their arms high, they naturally tend to pull the arm part way of the socket, even without external force. CCA, the perhaps the biggest paddling safety organization in the U.S., warns strongly against letting the arm go up or back white paddling... I think the most important thing to do to prevent injury while figure skating is to pick reasonably snug, supportive skates, and tie your laces as tight as you reasonably can....

How interesting! I didn’t know about the arm safety information provided by CCA. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and safety tips! I really appreciate it and will keep it all in mind whenever I’m on the ice!

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2018, 06:34:53 PM »
I didn’t know about the arm safety information provided by CCA.

Oops! I made a mistake.

I of course meant the ACA

CCA is a local group, around Washington DC. It does offer classes. Last I knew, they generally did take the rather conservative ACA-like approach to arm/shoulder safety, but it has been a very long time since I have been in the club.

Sorry for the mixup.
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Offline Nikita

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Re: Arm and shoulder padding/protection
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2018, 09:55:49 PM »
Oops! I made a mistake.
I of course meant the ACA
CCA is a local group, around Washington DC. It does offer classes. Last I knew, they generally did take the rather conservative ACA-like approach to arm/shoulder safety, but it has been a very long time since I have been in the club.
Sorry for the mixup.

Thank you for the correction! I didn't notice the first time either!