Staying Safe and Preventing Injuries With Heelys

Close up of the heel a heelys shoe

 Dan Taylor/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Heelys—those sneakers that have a hidden wheel in the back, so kids can roll around (heeling) in addition to the more traditional walking and running—are a lot of fun for kids. They're also a source of risk that parents can seek to minimize.

Things Parents Should Know About Heelys

Although kids rarely go fast using the heel wheel, this sought-after class of footwear isn't without its risks. They likely aren't any more dangerous than ​​skateboards, scooters, or inline skates, but kids do seem to get the same injuries when heeling. Research studies found that kids using Heelys occasionally experienced 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, studies suggest that walking in Heelys with the wheel (but not skating) can affect how your kids walk. The shoes cause "increased forefoot and rearfoot pressure" and "a diminished heel strike and a more rapid forefoot loading."

Heelys were on the 2006 World Against Toys Causing Harm "10 worst toys" list.

How to Stay Safe

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. The manufacturer cautions 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, 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, on stairs, or in crowded areas. In addition, to reduce the risk of injury, consider the following:

  • 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 the time, because your child may be tempted to use the Heelys in skate mode more impulsively, including in parking lots, grocery stores, or the mall, and when they are less likely to be prepared and have protective gear.
  • Don't let your child use the Heelys in skate mode inside your home, because a slip-and-fall accident in the house might lead to broken glass, broken bones, or injury to other family members.
3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Beach H, Garcia Pena BM, Linares MY. Heelys injuries: A review of the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2009;25(10):642-4. doi:10.1097/pec.0b013e3181b920f5

  2. Vioreanu M, Sheehan E, Glynn A, Casidy N, Stephens M, McCormack D. Heelys and Street Gliders injuries: A new type of pediatric injury. Pediatrics. 2007;119(6):e1294-8. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-2882

  3. Norem N, Feuerstein C, Traverso V, Zomaya N, Crews R, Wrobel JS. Gait changes with the use of Heelys: A case study. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2009;99(3):247-50. doi:10.7547/0980247

Additional Reading

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.