Skating is supposed to be tons of fun, but most skaters if not all skaters have experienced foot pain at some point. But why does skating hurt my feet when I’m supposed to be having endless wheel-y fun the whole time? This is the question this post sets out answer.
Disclaimer: I’m a hobby skater, not a doctor. No tip or suggestion given here is meant to be medical advice of any kind. Please see a doctor for professional advice on foot pain management if necessary.
All Kinds of Skating Hurts, and It Sucks
Even though skating is an extremely popular outdoor and indoor sport around the world, it hurts. At least some of the time. It doesn’t matter what skating style you’re into: you’ll experience a little pain some of the time.
The discomfort or pain might happen immediately you slide into the skates and tighten the laces, straps, and or buckles. Or after some waltzing around at the roller rink. Or after a reasonably long run on distance inline skates. It happens.
But here’s good news: you can do something about the pain and discomfort for the most part. And alleviating pain roller skating, inline skating, skateboarding, ice skating, racing, or roller-hockeying is what this post is all about.
I Experience Pain Roller Skating, Why and What Do I Do?
Note: the tips given below apply to inline skating as well.
As a novice skater, I rolled around on a pair of Angel Roller Skates. I found that feet ached real bad after skating for about 20 minutes. I asked someone at my local rink what they thought might the problem. And all they said was “throw away those shi*ty insoles and get some decent ones and the pain will go away.”
That’s what I did. I went over to the Dr. Scholl’s Inserts website and ordered a good pair of sport-focused insoles. And this solved the problem completely.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes, new and experienced roller skaters experience foot pain because the foot doesn’t sit well in the skate. When this happens, the whole foot feels uncomfortable and fatigued after riding for a while. Barring certain medical conditions and a poor skate fit, dropping in a pair of good quality insoles should alleviate the aching foot problem.
Poorly fitting stock insoles can cause foot pain in skaters. Replacing them with better ones often solves the issue. Below are other common situations roller skaters encounter from time to time and what one might do to deal with the matter.
Maybe You’re Tying Your Roller Skates All Wrong
Another reason you might suffer foot discomfort roller skating is tying the laces wrong. Sometimes, all you need to do eliminate the discomfort is to change how you do the laces. There’s a bunch of good YT videos produced by roller skating pros and coaches. Watch them and learn the best way to tie roller skates.
Another suggestion is to try tying excess laces around your ankles a few times. I once did this as a beginner, and I noticed that doing this sort of improved the baby strides I was making at this riding ability.
Maybe Your Feet Are Simply Tired
If you’re a new skater and have spent tons of time flailing around the rink with other giraffe-legged beginners, exhaustion naturally sets in. And since the feet carry all of your body weight as you exert yourself, it’s easy for them to ache afterwards. But the issue in this case is foot fatigue and not other causes.
Do this: rest. Give your foot muscles some time to recover from all the abuse you’ve been hurling at them all week.
Bunions Can Keep You From Skating
Bunions are nasty, and those who live with them know they’re a real pain. One cause of bunions is wearing shoes that are too loose. Your foot has a lot of play area. And the pinkie or the outer mid-foot keeps hitting the sides of the skates perhaps because you have flexible and collapsible arches.
Another way bunions happen is when you wear roller skates with a toe box that’s too narrow. When you get into such skates, the toes tend to slip forward to the squeezed toe box, and they’re killed there. If the skates are too narrow, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up with stress fracture.
One way to prevent bunions is to wear fitting skates and to tie them correctly. If your bunions are too bad to the extent they prevent you from roller skating, talk to your doctor.
Someone I know has bunions. When they went to see their doctor, the physician said to stop wearing the skates they owned because they had pointy toes. The idea of buying $350 skates when they already owned skates didn’t sound so exciting. But the doctor said it was either that or a 6-grand operation down the road. They opted to buy the pricier but better-fitting roller skates. I think it was some wide-width Sure Grip skates or Riendell skates.
Other Ways to Make Roller Skating With Bunions More Comfortable
Try hockey insoles: Most skaters with bunions find that using hockey skate insoles helps a whole lot. Superfeet Yellow Hockey Insoles come highly recommended. These inserts curb foot slipping while offering great arch support.
If you have flat arches/collapsible arches and have bunions as a result, try Superfeet Yellow Insoles. You can also get custom orthotics, but some find them a tad too bulky for use in roller skates or inline skates.
Another trick is to use bunion socks. These are special socks that have gel on the outer side to save you from irritation. You probably won’t need this solution if your bunions aren’t a big issue.
Finally, you can use a proper toe spacer to increase comfort when skating with bunions. There are silicone toe spacers and Balerrina lambswool toe spacers.
You can use whichever kind you like, but many bunion sufferers find that Ballerina lambswool spacers work better. They’re not as squishy as the silicone ones, plus they fit a bit more comfortably.
A Complete Inability to Walk After Roller Skating
If you’ve been learning to skate for a while and suddenly find you can’t walk at all after a session, it’s probably because your boots are too loose or too big. Either way, your feet have been pushing too hard to the side of the roller skates or too hard to the toes.
Your toe nails may also blacken, indicating again that your boots are too loose or a size or two larger. Blackened toes means your forefoot has been sliding too far forward because the boots are too roomy.
I bet you’re beginning to understand how critical getting a proper skate fit really is. It might mean the difference between a pleasant roller skating experience at the roller rink or a nasty ordeal that leaves your feet hurting like never before.
I Notice Cramping Across My Arches When Roller Skating
I researched around a bit and learned that this is a pretty common problem especially among neophyte skaters. Usually, the starting skater experiences this discomfort because they tied the skates too tight across the arch. If you believe this is what’s causing you all the misery you’re dealing with, try loosening the skates around the affected area or skipping lacing the area above the arches altogether. Chances are that the discomfort will disappear soon enough.
Straining or Cramping the Entire Foot Length
This is another common occurrence among roller skating kids and kids. For the most part, this situation arises because the skater constantly grips with the toes. Another instance this discomfort happens is when the skates are a tad too loose. If your quad skates or your kid’s are too lose, chances are that you’ll curl your toes to attempt to catch the skate during striding/pushing.
The solution is to tighten the fit a bit so that the skates have a snug hold on the foot rather then being too loose that you’re literally floating inside the boots!
Break In Your Roller Skates; They’re New
Sometimes, roller skates and other skates cause foot discomfort because they’re too tight when worn for the very first time.
New skates of all kinds naturally feel a little too tight initially, but once you roll around in them a few times, they loosen up a little and get roomier, fitting the feet better.But if the discomfort persists for weeks, then being new probably isn’t the issue at play.
Skate Size: Maybe the Skates Are Too Big or Too Small
One highly effective way to keep foot pain roller skating at bay is to wear the right size skates. If they’re too big, you might get bunions and other forms of foot pain. And if they’re extremely tight, you might get bunions and other kinds of discomfort when roller skating.
One way to deal with sizing issues is to return the shoes if they’re too big even with socks on. Quit wearing two pairs of socks to make your boots fit. Instead, return the oversized skates and order the correct size.
While you can heat mold the skates to make them fit better, it’s easier to stretch them out than to make them smaller. If your boots are rather tight and are made from leather or suede, you can try stretching them out using wooden shoe stretchers.
You can also try heat molding the boots. Not all boots are heat-moldable, so be sure yours are before trying. Alternatively, have a cobbler or boot fitter do a little magic to make the shoes somewhat roomier and better-fitting.
Maybe You Need Custom-fitted Skates
Sometimes, the best way for a roller skater to deal with foot pain before it happens is to invest in a custom-fitted boot. Truth be told: custom-fitted skates of any kind can be pretty expensive, but if paying more will make the pain go away why not?
Why Do My Feet Hurt Ice Skating?
When I started learning to ice skate a few years ago, all I got was massive pain in the arches of my feet. The problem showed up after about 30 minutes of practice. I was using boots fitted down at my Local Hockey Store. They even heat molded the skates to my feet. And I was almost certain poor fit wasn’t the problem.
The pain kept happening each time I stepped onto the rink (after 20-30 minutes). Soon, I became more aware of the foot pain I was experiencing than any skating progress I might have made.
I’d have quit ice skating for good hadn’t someone at the rink gave me a few practical solutions to try. Below is a list of possible causes of the discomfort ice skating feet experience and tricks that might obliterate the suffering.
Do You Have Wide, Pronating Feet?
I have wide feet, but they’re not Fred Flintstone-wide. I also pronate a bit. Someone at the ice skating rink suggested using Superfeet insoles. But I knew that wasn’t a worthwhile solution since I had been custom-fitted and had really good insoles.
But I did meet other folks who said using better-quality insoles alleviated foot problems for them. If you google around a little, you’ll find that many ice skaters start enjoying the activity more after ripping out the stock inserts in favor of proper insoles.
I also suggest getting fitted at a LHS if you have wide, flat feet. Do likewise if you have wide feet and one of them is flat while the other is arched. Fitted ice skates may cost significantly more, but the final fit always works much better.
Your Ice Skate Tying Technique Could be the Culprit
There are many different ways of lacing up ice skates. Really, your creativity is the limit, but not every lace-up pattern works for everyone.
The person I consulted at the ice rink said to try tying my ice skates differently. She suggested that I tighten the area around my ankles really nice and snug while leaving the forefoot and the top of the foot a bit looser. This definitely worked for me. And I keep coming across other skate moms for whom the trick worked.
Do this: start watching YT videos and learn different ways to tie up skates and the effect the lacing pattern has on the overall fit. I bet you’ll bump into a boot lacing technique that works well for you and probably stop your foot problems.
Maybe Your Calf and Ankle Muscles Aren’t Strong Enough
Pushing against hard ice on skates requires a certain amount of ankle muscle and calf muscle power. Ice skating feels way more enjoyable and less strenuous these days than it did when I was starting out.
I’m not saying you have weak ankle and calf muscles, but folks with stronger ones struggle less when it comes to assuming the correct ice skating stance. They also struggle less as far as maintain stability while gliding around the ice arena.
As a beginner, it did feel like I had to flex my muscles really hard to maintain a solid stance and stay up. Everyone else (experienced figure skaters) seemed to skate in a swift fluid form that defied analysis.
I’m certain these pros didn’t suffer foot problems like I did, but I suppose it’s because they had super strong muscles thanks to consistent and committed practice and focus. So, hang in there and see if things get better with time.
Break in the Ice Skates or Heat Mold The Boots
One way to make ice skates and other types of skates fit better and feet more comfortable right out of the box is heat-molding them. Taking care when doing this or you’ll burn those boots beyond usefulness! If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t heat treat the ice skates. Instead, break them in the traditional way of riding them hard for a couple of days.
Before you break the ice skates in, they might squeeze and probably hurt your feet a little. If fit isn’t the root cause of the foot discomfort, keep going until you finally give the boots that comfy, worn-in feel that beginners’ feet so much crave.
Buy the Right Size Ice Skates
Ice skates fit differently than roller skates and roller blades. While rollerblades and roller skates fit like regular street shoes, ice skates fit 1-1.5 sizes smaller than everyday shoes.
Once consistent cause of foot pain in ice skates is the size being too big. With oversized ice skates, you loose tons of skating ability mainly because ankle stability decreases dramatically. But this isn’t all. You also get blisters on the feet, and blisters aren’t fun at all.
On the other hand, if the ice skates are too small, the squeeze the heck out of the skater’s feet and cut off circulation. Too much boot tightness causes the feet to stay cramped, and the toes press mightily against the walls of the toe box. Ankle articulation suffers immensely, and every stride feels like the labor of Hercules.
Foot Pain Skateboarding and What to Do
I don’t skateboard much at all, but hubby and our boys do. They don’t currently have any kind of foot pain skateboarding, but that wasn’t always the case.
One of my sons happens to be flat-footed, and foot pain was a problem at the beginning. It got so bad that just cruising around on the skateboard because something to avoid. And doing any kind of tricks and jumps was simply impossible.
We researched around, and we learned loads about this issue. We learned that skateboarders with flat feet tend to experience foot pain unless they take action to correct the problem.
Get Good Skateboard Shoes
Sometimes, foot pain skateboarding happens because the skater uses skate shoes that are meh-quality. If you grab the cheapest kids’ skate shoes for your son or daughter or the cheapest adult skate shoes available, what do you expect? Expecting great performance and comfort from the cheapest skate shoes is expecting too much.
What you’re more likely to get is tons of discomfort due to lots of skateboarding impacts reaching your feet, heel pain, lower ankle support, and reduced ankle articulation.
If you cheaped out on skate shoes, it’s time to start researching for the best skateboard shoes ever and get proper kicks.
If you have flat, wide feet, chances are that that’s why you’re experiencing pain in the arches after or during skateboarding. For our flat-footed, spending $35ish for FM insoles helped solve the problem. Someone I know got custom skate shoe inserts that set them back over $100 5+ years ago, and they’ve been skating pain-free ever since.
Maybe You Have a Common Skateboarding Injury
One of the commonest skateboarding injuries is Plantar fasciitis. This issue happens when skaters pile stress on the bottom of the feet over and over. The skaters feels heel pain, and this discomfort extends all the way to the arch and toes.
Another cause of this condition in skateboarders according to KC Foot Specialists is poor calf strength. To strengthen your body for skateboarding and avoid injury, build up your core strength consistently. Additionally, stretch your calf muscles before and after skateboarding according to Amber Allen of KC Foot Specialists.
Also, when the toes repeatedly grip during action, that exacerbates the issue. Other common issues that result in foot problems among skateboard riders include: neuroma, a pain-causing situation resulting from over-pronation, poor skateboarding technique, or overuse.
Then there’s minor fractures on the foot, ankle, and lower leg. These minor fractures may not prevent you from skateboarding, but you’ll definitely experience pain, swelling, and bruising. And these effects may not disappear as quickly as you’d like.
Obviously, if you have broken bones, you won’t be able to skate anymore. At least not before an expert fully treats the problem and healing completes.
Get Used to It
At the beginning of your evolving skateboarding career, foot problems might happen. For the most part, it’s just normal foot fatigue and your muscles getting used to this new outdoor activity that uses different muscles than walking. And the discomfort often disappears as time goes. But if pain persists, talk to a professional therapist or doctor for expert advice.
Foot pain skateboarding, roller skating, rollerblading, or ice skating is pretty common. When it happens, it robs the skater of the ability to skate properly, the power to make progress, and the wonderful joy of skating.
Fortunately, there’s a bunch of tricks and ideas that can help lessen the discomf0ort. Read each section above and learn what you could do to make your experience more bearable if not eliminate the pain completely.