If you get up in the morning, dress for the office, grab a cup of coffee and your board and head out to catch the trolley – this question is targeted at you.
How old is too old to skateboard?
We’ve all seen that person (trying hard not to point to a certain gender here) who looks like your neighbor with two kids in Little League or is the spitting image of your cousin’s new husband riding by on a skateboard.
With its following among the X Games, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and YouTube crowds, skateboarding has come out of the teenaged-stoner crowd and into the mainstream but still hasn't quite shaken that stereotype.
Unlike surfing or bicycling, where older participants are often viewed as professionals taking some "me time" from a grueling job, skateboarders spotted around San Diego appear more like the unemployed boyfriend or someone on break from his job at GameStop.
Even skateboarding icon Tony Hawk, 41, is aware of his age and the precedent he's setting by continuing the sport. Getting older, he says, brings new limitations. "Usually, it's like when I take a big hit: It takes me a little bit longer to bounce back, because I'm still actively skating all the time," he recently told "Nightline". "It's not as bad as you think it would be."
We thought we’d go to an expert – someone who treats the injured after a spill. We put the question to Neil Tayyab, an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist with Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. At first, Tayyab laughed at the concept but then agreed there is a time to pack it in.
"I hate to say an age," he said more than once. "Probably around 40 is a good time to not be on a skateboard. If you're not in the best shape and if you fall, you're going to hurt yourself a lot more."
Tayyab, who doesn't skateboard himself but recently tore his own ACL snowboarding, has seen a change in his own skill level as he's aged.
"If you fall, what will happen, especially if you're not wearing wrist guards, is that you're more likely to break a bone as opposed to when you were younger," he said. Without a helmet, he said a skateboarder exposes himself or herself to head or even neck injuries.
The danger of the sport is the subject of a new trauma study taking place at Scripps Memorial Hospital examining the impact of children not wearing helmets or safety gear correctly.
Approximately 26,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms every year are there because of skateboarding. Sixty percent of those injured are under the age of 15. Most are boys and one third of those injured have been skateboarding for less than a week. That leaves 40 percent of those injured - some 10,400 - at 15 or older.
Before you write us promising to boycott our ageist viewpoints, listen to Tayyab's ultimate advice: "If you’re a 40-year old person who is working out and flexible, by all means do what you want to do,” he said. Just be safe about it.
Other San Diegans agree with Tayyab. Most folks support skateboarding well into your, well, how old is Hawk again?
“What would be the argument?" asked @Skatessentials on Twitter. "If you skateboard and enjoy it, your age shouldn’t matter.”
“You’re never too old to roll,” posted David Moye on Facebook.
However, Christina Larson considered low bone density a sign the cutting-off point is near. “If one spilil will shatter your hip.”
Perhaps our FB friend Kyle Van B has the best “last word” on the issue. How old is too old?
“24 years old on the dot,” he explains. “When you’re no longer covered by your parent’s health insurance but you can’t afford to buy it on your own.”