Tonight, a holiday tradition will take place here in New York City that many people consider a world-wide symbol of the season: the lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. The ceremony only lasts a couple of hours, but the tree will remain a top tourist attraction and provide a brilliant backdrop to those who put their graceful skills to the test on the ice skating rink. If you’re planning to take to the ice here in the Big Apple or somewhere closer to your home, here are some timely tips for safe skating:
- Lacing up: You want your skates to be tied securely, but not so tight over the instep that you cut off circulation. If your skates feel too tight at the ball of your foot, try the next size up.
- Avoiding Foot Cramps: Many skaters, especially beginners, have a tendency to clench their toes, which can cause the foot to cramp. Try and keep your feet relaxed when you’re on the ice.
- Falling Gracefully: I hate to admit it, but despite a couple of years of ice skating lessons, I’m probably one of the least graceful people you’ll ever see on the ice. Luckily, the worst injury I ever had to recover from was a bruised ego, but obviously, it can be worse. Using your arms to catch your fall can lead to some aches and pains. Wrist injuries are common if you fall backwards and land on an outstretched arm. Hopefully, following RICE for first aid – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – will take care of a minor wrist sprain within a few days. However, if you experience severe pain or swelling, get an X-ray to rule out a fracture. Also, if you’re going down and there’s a choice between hitting the ice with your face or your arm, try to at least bend your arm at the elbow to soften the blow.
- Testing the Waters: Unfortunately every year, you hear at least one horror story about someone who fell through the ice of what appeared to be a frozen pond or lake. Ice needs to be a minimum of four inches thick to be considered safe for skating in the great outdoors. If you’re not sure the ice is that thick, don’t chance it. Even at four inches, don’t skate alone as you want someone to be able to get help in the event of an emergency.
- Staying Hydrated: While many of us are good about drinking lots of water during the dog days of summer, you need to stay hydrated in the colder months, too. In fact, you can break quite the sweat skating outside thanks to being bundled up in wool scarves, hats and gloves. So make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, preferably water.
Click here for a tool that can help you calculate how many calories you can burn for an hour of general ice skating. As Old Man Winter comes knocking at our door, ice skating is another fun way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!