Why Do Some Skater's Feet or Ankles Hurt?

Discover Causes and Solutions for Foot and Ankle Pain

Orthopedic wrap on ankle

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Many people of all ages want to skate on inline, quad or ice skates but are afraid that their weak ankles, heel problems, foot bumps or other foot pain will prevent them from trying skating sports. Others who are already involved in recreational or competitive skating activities are concerned when foot or ankle pain keeps their skating from feeling good anymore and even prevents skating. There are many reasons for foot pain among skaters and athletes in other sports. Nearly all causes of these annoying aches can be traced to one of the following sources:

  • Any skates or other footwear that is not fitted correctly can cause foot pain.
  • A medical condition that affects the way a person moves can cause or aggravate foot pain.
  • Any high-impact skating or other strenuous training, cross training or recreational activities may injure the feet or ankles.

There are many kinds of ankle and foot problems that may affect any type of skating or sports activity.

Ankle Pain and Weak Ankles

Your ankles are one of the most commonly injured joints in your body. The weight of your entire body is supported by your small ankle which makes them a very likely target for pain and injuries.

  • Ankle sprains are one of the more common sports injuries.
  • Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury, meaning that repetitive use of this tendon results in little tears of the tissue.
  • A stress fracture is another type overuse injury that involves the bone.
  • Both oseoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the ankle joint.

Skaters with weak ankles automatically feel unstable on skates and may feel extra pressure under their feet. Weak ankles also contribute to tired legs and feet at the end of a session. The real pain associated with weak ankles comes from rolling or twisting an ankle due to the instability.

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are caused by rubbing, pressure or friction on skin. A corn is thickened skin on top of or in-between a skater's toes that creates a protective layer of dead skin cells. It is cone-shaped and has a pressure-sensitive that points inward, pushes on nerves and causes foot pain. A callus is thickened and hardened skin on the soles of your feet that is more evenly spread and with no cone-shaped core.

Bunions and Bunionettes

Big toe (bunions) or little toe (bunionettes) are a common source of pain for skaters. A bunion is a deformity on the inside of the foot near the base of the big toe. A bunionette is a lot like a bunion, but they are found on the outside of the foot.

Flat Feet and High Arches

Flat feet (pes planus) are a defect of the foot that is usually inherited. Skaters with flat feet have little or no arch on the bottom of their feet. Although most are born with flat feet, an adult's arches can also fall. High arches (hollow feet) can cause problems, too. More people have hollow feet than flat feet.

Heel Problems

Heel pain in the front, back, or bottom of the heel and pain in the bottom of the foot are very common for skaters. Types of heel pain include:

  • Irritation and inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the ankle is called achilles tendonitis.
  • Bursitis of the heel comes from many repetitions of a move or excessive pressure over an extended period of time.
  • Excess pronation happens when the foot and ankle roll too far inward in an effort to accommodate movement.
  • A hook of bone that forms on the heel bone is called a heel spur.
  • Plantar fasciitis happens when the tissue that forms the arch of the foot gets inflamed.


There are steps you can take to stop or prevent foot pain. Foot and ankle care begins with getting skates and footwear that are right for your feet. In fact, one of the most important things to help you treat or prevent skating injuries of all sorts and maintain or improve your skating is proper fitting equipment.

Some skaters with foot, ankle or even knee problems use over-the-counter inserts or orthotics to help align their feet inside skates properly. Other skaters may require custom fitting and prescriptions for special shoe supports or orthotics. Any skater who is not experiencing acute problems can try less expensive solutions to help relieve different types of foot pain.

All severe foot or ankle conditions should be reviewed and treated by a podiatrist or even your primary care physician to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment for the pain.

Other Sports Injuries

Skating injuries are always lurking on the horizon. Some may be overuse injuries and others may be acute or traumatic. Learn about the things you can do to prevent, identify or get professional treatment for some common inline skating injuries:

This document was reviewed by our Medical Review Board in 2012 and is considered medically accurate.