June 11, 2007
Maybe you've seen them. Maybe you've worn them. Maybe
you've had someone zip by you "heeling" down the hallway at
school or through the mall. With millions of pairs sold
worldwide, and no sign of their popularity declining, it
looks like Heelys are here to stay.
For those who enjoy wearing them, this is great news. For
others, this is cause for concern.
"The consumer watchdog group 'W.A.T.C.H.' which stands
for World Against Toys Causing Harmdubbed Heelys the
most dangerous toy of 2006; and safety experts say this
craze has been wheeling kids into hospital emergency rooms.
In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has
received about 70 reports of serious injuries connected to
these shoes and one report of a Heely-related death. ..."
Most people don't consider what safety precautions they
will need to take when putting on their shoes, and many
consider Heelys as nothing more than shoes.
"The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)
stresses the importance of protective gear while engaging
in a particularly new phenomenon...heeling. Heeleys -- also
known as roller shoes or street gliders -- are shoes that
have a wheel on the heel. These types of shoes fall into
the category of inline skates, which qualifies them as a
sport, and carries warnings for their use including wearing
protective gear, such as wrist guards and helmets to avoid
injuries. According to James H. Beaty, MD, a pediatric
orthopaedic surgeon and president of AAOS, 'Orthopaedic
surgeons are in fact seeing children come into their
practices with injuries due to heeleys, mostly of a
fracture-type within the hand, wrist, or elbow.' The US
Consumer Product Safety Commission reports over 1,600
emergency room visits in 2006 due to wheel and roller
shoes. In addition, balancing on heels can strain feet and
Achilles tendons, and orthopaedic surgeons are also seeing
heely-related ankle injuries."
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The surgeons who see the results of the injuries are
concerned and want those using Heelys to be more careful
and wear protective gear.
Those who make the shoes, tend to agree. The following is
some of the safety information that can be found on the
"When using your Heelys skate shoes in the 'walking' or
'shoe' mode, always remove the wheels. ...
NEVER skate faster than you can run.
NEVER skate in or near streets, around traffic, or stairs.
NEVER try to skate over cracks, or through rocks, sand, or
ALWAYS wear protective gear. ...
While using protective gear cannot guarantee your safety,
it could greatly reduce your chances of injury. ... It is
highly recommended to wear a Heelys helmet, wrist guards,
knee pads, and elbow pads when using your Heelys skate
shoes. Be sure to avoid cracks, and skate only on smooth,
stable, dry surfaces. Do NOT skate over rocks, sand, or
Heelys CAN be dangerous, and safety precautions CAN be
taken to reduce the risks.
Heelys can also be used to help kids get active, get some
exercise, and have some fun in the process.
"It's a Heelys party, held the first Saturday of the month
at Mountainside Fitness in Mesa. For two hours, kids can
skate in a safe space, learn to be courteous of others and
get active. 'The main rule is to have fun and learn to get
along with others,' says Gina McDonough, fitness director
at Mountainside Fitness in Mesa and the brains behind the
party. ... McDonough's inspiration for the party came from
her own daughter, Kori, 9.
'My daughter loves to Heely, and everywhere we went it
didn't seem safe to be doing it,' says McDonough. ... In
addition to letting the kids skate, volunteers organize
games and exercises to help them develop coordination.
Ever the fitness advocate, McDonough also had another
motive for organizing the party -- getting kids active. The
American Heart Association estimates that 11 million
children in the United States are overweight and 13 million
others are on the cusp of being overweight. ... After a
two-minute skate around the basketball court, the kids are
already panting and heading over for a sip of water. The
warm-up session is followed by relays, races and games such
as red light, green light and musical chairs. Volunteer
moms such as Ivey and Cassidy's mother, Dodie Blomberg,
organize the games and teach the kids about Heelys
Questions of the Week:
What precautions can be taken to help those using Heelys
(or any other roller shoes) to have fun and reduce the risk
of injury? How would you present this information in a way
so that those who wear the shoes (mostly kids and
pre-teens) would see the need and want to take the
necessary precautions? What can those who don't use Heelys
do to help those who do have a safer and more enjoyable
experience? What can those who do use Heelys do to keep
themselves and those around them safer?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum