Curling is one of the most popular winter sports in Canada – 80% of all the world’s curlers are Canadians! More than 1.5 million Canadians participate in curling at one of our country’s 900 curling.
However, as any curler will tell you, playing involves a strenuous workout for the body. While the knee injury rate is low at around 4%, any injury can lay players up for weeks unless properly treated.
The most common curling injuries
According to the Sports Foundation, the most common injuries incurred when curling are as follows:
- Shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff injuries and sprains from repetitive broom use
- Back muscles strains. As the Foundation website says:
“Curlers frequently experience lower back pain due to bending, twisting, and sweeping actions.”
- Knee injuries commonly occur when curlers move from the starting position into the sliding delivery position. Building your lower body stability and strength will help prevent injuries and help you achieve smoother sweeps and deliveries. (See below for more on curlers’ knee.)
- Wrist and elbow injuries. Both elbow tendonitis and wrist sprains and strains often happen due to the twisting actions and pressure required for sweeping.
- Ankle sprains and foot injuries are a constant risk due to players losing their footing, or when losing balance sweeping, or when sliding. As the Sports Foundation suggests:
“Wearing appropriate footwear with good ankle support, practicing balance exercises, and warming up before games can help prevent these painful and frustrating injuries.”
More about Curlers’ knees
Knee injuries are common with curlers due to the deep flex and weight bearing action of the leading knee. Equally, when players rotate their sliding foot outwards for better stability on the ice, they then place additional strain on this knee joint too. At Hunt Footcare, our team of foot specialists can help with expert diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods, including specialist supports for all types of curling-related ankle sprains, ligament strains and lower leg ailments.
Wear the right shoes
Proper curling shoes can prevent injury by offering proper grip on the ice when required, and a smooth gliding action when not. Like all shoes, ensure you get the best fit possible. Always ensure that you can stand properly in your curling shoes, to give you the best posture on the ice.
Ill-fitting curling shoes can put pressure on parts of your foot including the heels, the toes and the sides of the feet. When combined with the action of sliding across the ice, this pressure can cause a variety of pressure-related conditions, from blisters to bunions and corns. While a good fit is essential, over-tight curling shoes can trigger ingrown toenails.
If you suffer from bad posture, leg pain and heel pain when walking or, curling, this can often be alleviated with custom-made orthotics. Orthotics are devices that slip into your curling shoes to correct postural imbalances or conditions such as flat feet. Many of our sporting customers swear that orthotics have actually improved their game, and curling is no exception.
Not the same on each foot
A pair of curling shoes are not two identical shoes, as curling shoe manufacturers Goldline Curling explain:
“A pair of curling shoes consists of two different soles: a gripper and a slider. The gripper is made from a soft rubber which gives you traction on the ice … The slider can be made from a variety of products, but the most common by far is Teflon, or PTFE … these materials have a very low coefficient to friction, which is just a fancy way to say that they slide very well!”
Your choice of shoes also depends on whether you are right-handed or left-handed:
“A right-handed curler delivers the rock with their right hand and they slide on their left foot. So, right-handed shoes have a left-foot slider, and left-handed shoes have a right-foot slider.”
Take care of your curling shoes
Like you, your curling shoes take the summer off, to sit in a cupboard. However, pop them back on, and the warm, damp atmosphere inside is perfect for fungal infections to grow, resulting in skin infections and fungal nails.
At Hunt Footcare, we offer a shoe sterilisation service that cleans your curling shoes inside, leaving them fresh and bacteria-free for the new season.
Take care of your feet
As professional podiatrists and chiropodists, we firmly believe that prevention is the best protection! We advise all our curling clients to always wear clean socks when curling, and clean your feet before and after a game. When you have clean feet and clean curling shoes, infectious bacteria and fungae should have limited opportunity to grow.
If you do develop a feet skin infection such as athlete’s foot, or a nail infection, just book an appointment at one of our foot care and orthotics clinics. Our team of feet care experts will treat your infection, and give advice on ongoing treatment requirements and a plan to prevent your problem re-occuring. Our aim is to restore your feet to their natural health, so you can be back on the curling court as son soon as possible.
And finally… your broom is your best friend
It may sound obvious, but never try to stop a moving curling rock with your feet – always use your broom! A sliding rock can easily break your toe or damage your ankle. Equally, a broom in the hand can help you stabilize yourself on the ice and prevent you losing your balance.
Needless to say, the key to enjoying injury-free curling is to avoid injuring yourself in the first place. As Curling Canada points out, all players should do :
“Structured warm-ups that focus on stretching, strengthening, improving balance and movements prior to playing.”
Help from Hunt Foot Clinics in Ontario
If you have any sports-related injuries, do make an appointment at one of our three Ontario foot care clinics.