StretchesThe usual stretches are very reliable in increasing flexibility. Note that they must be static stretches (hold part in stretch for 20 seconds, release then move on to another part). If you've been injured recently or it's hard to move a certain joint, you can have a friend help you with passive stretching. This usually involves having someone slowly move a limb throughout its whole range of motion, or hold it in a stretch.
Ballistic stretches (the kind usually seen in aerobics videos, where you 'bounce' a muscle into a stretched position) are to be avoided at all costs. They cause microtears in the muscle and worsen the injury. They could also compromise proper muscle function and strength. (so they're bad for you!)
- ExercisesWhile skateboarding is its own exercise, doing other things too will help make you stronger and healthier. If you have already been injured, and skateboarding is too difficult, keeping active with another sport can also help. Here are some ideas:
- Biking is a good exercise because of its cardiovascular and leg workout. However, it isn't very good for the abdominals (you just 'sit there') so crunches or other abdominal exercises will need to be added. Depending on the terrain, there may be some slight impact, but this is usually a zero-impact sport. Particularly if you decide to go for a stationary bike.
- Swimming is good for the cardiovascular and respiratory system. There is absolutely NO impact, and it has the bonus of slightly stretching the body as well. I'd recommend this for people who are just recovering from injury but who want to stay healthy, strong and flexible.
- Walking is also commendable, but it is a low- (as compared to a no-) impact exercise. But it really does help, and it's better than just sitting on your couch, thinking about doing something active!
- Most gym exercises, like free weights, will add good strength training, as well as variety, to the workout. Any muscle you gain in your legs and abs will make you a better skater. Plus, strengthening the muscles around the knees will help prevent knee injuries.
- Yoga and pilates, as well as some dance workouts (always check with the instructor- be sure the workout is 'low-' or 'no-' impact), may also be helpful as these usually focus on maintaining flexibility and endurance.
Dealing with an injuryA boarder with an injured knee or torn ligaments should stay away from jumping, deep knee bends, squats, running and jogging. These are high-impact exercises. They put too much strain on the legs and will make things worse. If you have a knee injury, and it doesn't heal quickly, I strongly urge you to get it checked out. Nothing will keep you off of your skateboard, and slow down your life, quite like a knee injury.
Braces, orthotics and athletic tape may be helpful in reducing pain during the recovery period. They can also provide extra support and discourage improper movements that could worsen the injury. Use as preferred/necessary. Knee pads can provide some support, along with helping to protect the knee from impact.
During the first 3 days (the acute stage) of injury, it is important to use ice or a cold compress. This will keep the swelling down. As long as there is swelling, healing is impaired or does not even occur. After that (sub-acute to chronic stages), a warm compress is useful to encourage tissue regeneration.
Of course, things will vary from case to case, and whenever in doubt, one must always consult first with a qualified health-care provider.