I like scootering. I like riding and learning tricks so much I think it it safe to say 94% of all my major injuries occur from skatepark mishaps…. Which is part of the reason I really don’t ride much anymore, because there is an extraordinarily good chance I am either still recovering from some injury from last time or am still certain I will surely break something again and am not ready for that extra burden of healing just yet. 🙂
Below is my (in process) Fragile-Bodied Guide Scooter Safety.
- Cotton socks
- Anti-bacterial goo (not always needed)
- Disposable gloves (for application; for the squeamish, like myself)
Dry, cracked heels often cause me pain scootering. Even if the heel is not bruised (which is another issue!), the sharp stings from various fissures around the heel edge is a common problem that can lead to painful landings and possibly a greater chance of real heel bruise in the process.
Lather the insides of a pair of socks with liberal amounts of vaseline, then try to sleep with the vaseline socks on each night. Continue to vigorously clean and air out the heels too, but the vaseline will ultimately catalyze healing. Antibacterial goo is good to put on before the socks if any of the cracks seem susceptible to infection.
- Finger cuticle damage:
Note cracked and dry cuticles (the bit behind the fingernail) can also cause pain while riding. Exacerbated in cold weather, these cracks will swell and cause short, sharp pains while doing barspins or simply when bumped, not to mention all the other tasks involving one’s fingertips. Know the solution for heels can be applied to the fingers, too- find a few pairs of cheap cotton gloves (the sell them as eczema gloves online in bulk) and cover the finger tips in vaseline. Wear these while you sleep for a while, and the fingers should heal themselves.
- Cup-soled skate shoes, designed for big gap/stair skaters
- Basketball shoes/sneakers with cushion are a second option but will not last nearly as long
- Fancy hot/cold foot RICE device for expedited recovery.
- *Gel heel inserts, only for walking and recovery however
Avoid heel bruise at all cost, as the recovery is glacially slow (and will easily compound with further small foot traumas).
To avoid this problem, try various shoes- ideally with a cup sole and cushioned (look for skate shoes meant for the skaters who jump big stair sets)- but note some riders are successful simply with a rotation of cushioned running and basketball shoes. These “normal” shoes will wear down faster because of all the rubbery nubs and bits, but will, IMHO, provide better heel bruise prevention for the cost of a pair of normal shoes.
It is worth noting heel inserts, like Dr. Scholls, are great for a recovering or impacted heel, but despite the appeal of riding with all that padding, I have found the extra thickness ends up making heel strikes more common- not to mention the heightened risk of ankle sprains for an elevated foot platform.
IF it does get bruised, ice / RICE the parts of the heel that swell ASAP. take advil (3 if you can) when the pain is bad. Do everything you can to NOT modify your stride however (try cup inserts for all your footwear, etc) because in the 2-8 MONTHS it takes a heel to recover fully a modified stride will make your muscles re-form to the wrong gate, clearing the way for more injuries once you start athletic things again. I recommend investing in a fancy ankle/heel wrap like this one (http://a.co/71cyLEU) that can be reused indefinitely, has malleable ice gel packs, and can be microwaved for heat/cold therapy. This feature is fantastic for ankle sprains too.
Achilles /calf dings and issues:
- Time: 2-5 minutes for post trauma stretching
Caused by a blow (from a scooter deck, coping, a bed frame, etc), a bruise or soreness under the calf makes pushing on a scooter and jumping rather difficult. The solution is frequent hand massaging, and slow, repetitive (10-20x) heel drops off a ledge/stair. These moving stretches can be compounded with holding the stretch on the floor with the injured legs knee bent- the more bent the knee is, the lower down the leg the stretch will fall (from personal experience).
Upper calf and hamstring tightness:
- Time: 2-5 minutes for post trauma stretching, ideally after each riding session
The calf and hamstrings are often a big tight on everyone, making it best practice to stretch these muscles before and after a session of jumping, running, scootering, etc. Sitting on the floor and reaching for your toes with first one, then two hands for each leg is an efficient one, as is bending over from a standing position while maintaining straight (but not locked) knees.
Quad soreness and stiffness:
- Time: 2-5 minutes for post trauma stretching
The classic issue of returning from a scooter session and realizing one or both quad muscles will be so sore you will be hobbling for the next week is both normal and easy to deal with, assuming they are not seriously damaged. It is imperative to stretch the quads after tiring sessions, often as simple as a few minutes dedicated to bending each leg up behind you in a standing position (with your toes toward your head) with your bent knee staying behind the straight knee. Do this a few times after and a bit before riding and recovery will not only be faster, but more strength and performance will be available for the next time out.
Paraspinal aches (from bri flips, etc)
- Time: 2-5 total minutes for pre/post ride stretching
The paraspinal muscles are comprised of various muscles forming the two ridges running next to your spine. They are enormous, critical muscles to bodily function. While a real trauma to these muscles can be horrific, it is quite common to feel side-specific aches and soreness from scooter tricks, particularly bri flips on the side you throw the bri. Try rolling in a ball on your back before and after riding as a sort of body weight massage, and (ideally when taking time to also stretch the hamstrings!) try letting your body droop forward in a standing position for about ~30ish seconds at a time, letting the back arch and naturally stretch out.
Chronically sweaty hands/runoff:
Traditional scooter/bmx grips get dangerously (or at least unhelpfully) slippery when completely wet with sweat. Bar spins- and most annoyingly- bri/flip tricks just will not work. After a point, whips also become impossible. There are a few solutions, with varying degrees of involvement.
- Bring a towel- ideally one of the fancy microfiber-hyper-absorbent “pack towels”. These are great because you can actually dry the grips and your hands almost 100%, as opposed to terrycloth towels which just make things a bit damp at best.
- Wear BMX gloves. I can't stand BMX gloves myself, but there are plenty of riders who do great with them. Obviously, the idea of keeping grippy stuff on the grips will work all the time with gloves- doing hand-based tricks however, takes extra practice (for me at least). For example: while bar spins and especially bar-combos get harder, front scooter flip (one hand), the infamous “front scoot-whip”, and definitely bar wrap or “unwrap” become effectively impossible (for me). The grippers on any sort of glove will always get tangled around the grips and effectively start wrapping me and my arms around the bars.
- Forget traditional rubbery/TPR/softie/longneck grips and perform a tennis grip “bike wrap”. This was done a few times before, but Claudius Vertesi (the fantastically famed and manically entertaining Youtube guy) is certainly the most notable adopter of this tactic. He has a tutorial or two on how to perform the wrap and get the materials- I have not personally done this conversion (It is only really hot for a smaller portion of the year where I live in New England) but I think it is the best option available currently.
Coming eventually to the guide:
Standard/quality safety gear and tips:
Listening to music at the park properly:
Scooter part selection: strength/snap safety vs. weight.
Dealing with inversion (flip) safety: