Heelys - Staying Safe and Preventing Injuries

Child Safety Basics

A child using their Heelys in skate mode.
A child using their Heelys in skate mode. Photo (c) 2007 Pam Fierro licensed to About.com, Inc.

It probably seems like it isn't fun a lot of the time when you have a pediatrician for a dad.

After all, it can mean that you are the only kid on the block without a trampoline, the only kid in school who still has to sit in a booster seat, and you are probably the last kid without Heelys or a hoverboard.

For those parents who are out of the loop, Heelys are those new sneakers that have a hidden wheel in the back, so kids can roll around (heeling), in addition to the more traditional walking and running.

Heely Injuries

Heelys are thought to be safe by most parents since kids are usually not going very fast on their Heelys, but it is important to keep in mind that kids can get hurt while "heeling" or using them in skate mode.

They likely aren't any more dangerous than skateboards, scooters, or inline skates, but kids do seem to get the same injuries when heeling. Two medical studies found that kids using Heelys had "serious injuries," including "distal radius fractures and elbow injuries," and that one patient even had a head injury that required surgery.

In addition to putting kids at risk for injuries, it has also been found that walking in Heelys with the wheel (but not skating) can affect how your kids walk. They cause "increased forefoot and rearfoot pressure" and "a diminished heel strike and a more rapid forefoot loading."

Preventing Injuries on Heelys

While many kids use their Heelys like inline skates, the problem is that few kids wear any safety gear when using their Heelys in skate mode.

Keep in mind that the manufacturer does state that "it is highly recommended to wear a Heelys helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads when using your Heelys skate shoes."

To prevent injuries from Heelys, be sure to have your kids wear the recommended safety gear, remove the wheels when using Heelys in shoe mode, and don't allow your kids to use their Heelys in skate mode in or near traffic, on uneven surfaces, or on stairs.

You also might avoid injuries by telling your kids to not go heeling in crowded areas and to not roll faster than they can walk.

What To Know About Injuries and Heelys

Other things to know about preventing injuries from Heelys include that:

  • Make sure your kids stagger their feet when heeling, with one foot in front of the other. If they keep both feet together, they will likely fall.
  • Kids should always wear protective safety equipment, including a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads, when heeling, just like they should when using a skateboard, scooter, or inline skates.
  • Don't leave the wheels in your child's Heelys all of the time, which will simply tempt your child to use the Heelys in skate mode more impulsively, including in parking lots, grocery stores, or the mall, and when he is less likely to be prepared and have protective gear.
  • Heelys were on W.A.T.C.H.'s (World Against Toys Causing Harm) 2006 '10 worst toys' list.
  • Don't let your child use the Heelys in skate mode inside. Even if it really doesn't mark up the floors, if your child falls inside, he may be more likely to hit something hard, such as a table, desk, or display case, and get hurt. Also, you wouldn't let your child roller skate or ride his skateboard in the grocery store, so why would you let him go heeling down the aisles?
  • Many places, including schools, now ban children from wearing Heelys in skate mode. As we personally learned on a recent school field trip, they also make you take the wheels out of your Heelys at The Texas Capitol in Austin, The Alamo in San Antonio, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. However, you can go heeling along the River Walk if you want, although I wonder if they are keeping any statistics on how many kids with Heelys fall in...

Wearing protective safety equipment is especially important when your kids first get their Heelys, as that is when most injuries occur - as they are learning to use them.


Beach et al. Heelys injuries: a review of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2009 Oct;25(10):642-4.

Oh D. Heelys injuries in children. - Singapore Med J - 01-MAY-2006; 47(5): 373-5

Heely shoe users: Take heed of risks. Trisha Korioth. AAP News Vol. 28 No. 4 April 2007, p. 29.

Lenehan et al. Heely injuries: a new epidemic warranting a government health warning! Injury. 2007 Aug;38(8):923-5. Epub 2007 Jan 18.

Norem et al. Gait changes with the use of Heelys: a case study. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2009 May-Jun;99(3):247-50.

Vioreanu et al. Heelys and street gliders injuries: a new type of pediatric injury. Pediatrics. 2007 Jun;119(6):e1294-8.

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