Snowboarding is an extreme sport. Execution of moves for a beginning rider if not properly planned can put them at risk of getting injured. Common injuries can occur from simply slipping over to high-impact falls at speed. The good news is, preventing snowboarding injuries is pretty easy as long as you follow these few simple steps!
First-time snowboarders are the ones who usually get hurt despite attempting less risky manoeuvres. These newby snowboarders have yet to learn how to balance or maintain a stable stance on the snowboard to prevent potential falling. About 25% of injuries happen during a snowboarder's first attempts and almost 50% of the cases occur during the first season of snowboarding. Brisbane exercise physiologists, Live Well Rehab told us about some of the common snowboarding injuries they treat and what are the best ways to prevent them.
It would also be worthwhile checking out our previous posts covering exercises to improve your snow fitness and recovering after a day on the slopes to ensure you’re in the best shape when you reach the mountain.
Preventing Snowboarding Injuries
With both feet attached to non-release snowboard bindings which is then attached to a relatively narrow snowboard, falling is seen the primary cause of injury. This followed by colliding with stationary objects and other snowboarders or skiers.
Compared to skiing, injuries brought about by snowboarding affect the upper extremities and the ankles. These happen when snowboarders lose their sense of balance as they can't move their legs freely to recover as both of their feet are firmly fixed to the board. A basic instinctive snowboarder reaction when falling is to outstretch a hand before landing, risking upper limb injuries. Wrist, ankle and knee injuries are all very common in snowboarding, with ACL and PCL ligaments being among the most treated by our exercise physiologists. This may be because minor broken bones don’t always require muscular rehabilitation to the extent of ligament damage.
The wrist is the most common body part susceptible to snowboarding injuries. For those who just started learning how to ride, they may experience slipping backward and landing on their hands. Hard-impact slips can bring about sprains or fractures to one of the 13 bones that form the wrist.
Ski patrol, who usually handle on-piste snowboarding injuries, call these types of accidents 'FOOSH' or ‘fall onto an outstretched hand’. This happens when a rider loses his balance then suddenly falls. To break the fall, he outstretches a hand. If done incorrectly, this usually results in swollen muscles, sprains or bone fractures.
To reduce wrist injuries, as you slip back, refrain from catching your fall using your hands. It’s never a good idea to put all the impact on your wrists as the bones are so small. You have to learn how to fall using your elbows. As you fall backwards, place your hands in front of you as you point your elbows backwards. Your elbows can absorb a much harder impact compared to your wrists. You may also want to keep your arms safely tucked in. This makes it easier to roll out of a fall, spreading the impact over a greater portion of the body.
Wearing wrist guards is the best way to prevent a wrist injury. Such equipment should be strictly worn during your initial week of learning how to snowboard. We stock Dakine wrist guards that fit snugly on the inside or outside of your gloves. Wrist guards designed for skating or skateboarding can also be used for snowboarding if you have some of these lying around although they may not be as comfortable when wearing a glove.
Ankles and calves can experience pressure as you snowboard. Injuries are brought about by hard sideways impact like crashes usually after jumping with a combination of compression and inversion or as the ankle turns in. This may result in an ankle sprain. This can also lead to a more serious condition known as "snowboarder's ankle" or a fracture of the talus. Expert snowboarders are more likely to experience ankle injuries. The risk is minimized by employing improved ankle support to snowboarding boots. We offer professional fitting of all our snowboard boots to improve your safety and stability, visit us in store to take advantage of our professional boot fitting service!
Similar to skiing, your snowboard gear has a significant connection to the type and frequency of several injuries. The risk of having an ankle injury is related to the type of snowboard boots you use. Expert snowboarders prefer stiffer boots to protect their ankle joints.
For beginners, they usually feel more comfortable in soft boots as these give them the freedom to move their ankles, helping them to manoeuvre the board more easily. Unfortunately, soft boots are twice as risky in terms of ankle injury compared with stiff boots. Any pressure from the board may impact the joint. This usually occurs when the ankle is either compressed or turned in after a jump.
Riders who use stiff lace-up boots or alpine/carving boots are less likely to suffer from ankle injuries. However, they are more prone to have knee injuries. Using softer snowboard boots and looser binding settings puts you at risk of foot or ankle injury. As a result, this can lead to a sprain or fracture. If your boots are hard and your binding settings are tight, you may have knee injury. This brings either ligament damage or ruptures. But remember, stay in control and your chance of injury becomes much less likely. Only ride as hard as you can handle!
The knees are like springs that absorb impact during snowboarding. Most snowboarding knee injuries are brought on by extreme collisions like hitting a tree or shocks from unexpected angles or turning movements. To prevent such common injuries, know your limitations.
Learn to snowboard the proper way! As you to absorb harder impacts, your movements will also intensify. While snowboarding, ensure to bend your knees at all times, especially when doing jumps or tricks. If in doubt, get a lesson!
This isn’t an injury we deal with as an exercise physiologist but it is a big one and can be a live threatening one so it’s a must mention. Always wear a helmet! If you're preventing snowboarding injuries then this is the top of the list.
When falling, surfaces such as hard snow or ice, boulders, trees, or other objects such as rails and boxes in snow parks, all may lead to serious head injuries.
Helmets are the number one safety item for all snowboarders. Regardless of how much of an expert you may be, a simple low speed slip where you hit your head can result in serious injury. When purchasing a helmet, select a special snowboard helmet. They have stronger sides to protect the head from greater impact. Check out our range of snowboarding helmets as well as our ski helmet guide for more info.
Impact Injuries are inevitable in most extreme sports like snowboarding. Risks are part of challenge as snowboarders improve their ability to master this winter sport. To prevent deadly crashes, snowboarders should carefully comply with the snowboarding guidelines.
Taking a formal lesson is always the best practice to learn snowboarding. It helps you to understand the proper techniques and reduces the chances of getting injured. Expert snowboard instructors can assist beginners with the art of staying up in the air and falling the right way preventing snowboarding injuries on the slopes.
And remember, it’s about having fun! So be confident in yourself, be safe in your activities on the slope, and shred the powder like a champion!