Snowboarding was invented in 1965. Since its invention, it has grown in popularity, and it was the fastest growing snow-sport during the 1990s. However, participants are also seeing an increasing number of injuries each season. Snowboarders have a higher rate of injury than skiers, suffering 3-6 injuries per 1000 snowboarder days.1
Before hitting the slopes, it’s important to make sure you equipment is tuned and ready for the season. First, you’ll want to make sure your snowboard is tuned up. Make sure your edges are sharpened and your bindings are adjusted and in good working order. Don't forget your goggles and a helmet.
Now that your gear is ready, let’s get your body in top shape. Snowboarding requires good leg strength and core stability. When you watch higher level skiers, you’ll notice they maintain a bent knee position and their upper body stays very still and quiet. Your training should mimic these positions. A great exercise to duplicate this posture is a squat with forward arm raise.
To start, grab some light weight dumb bells or a medicine ball, and stand with your feet shoulder’s width apart. Squat down to a comfortable position while raising your arms out in front of you to shoulder height. Try to hold that position for 5-10 seconds. This will strengthen your legs and train your core to maintain its stability.
Remember to incorporate a good stretching program into your routine as well. Good flexibility in the ankles, knees, and back will allow you to keep a good forward trunk lean.
Dehydration can happen anytime, even when its 10 degrees on the mountain side. Remember to drink water and eat throughout the day. Warmup with some easy runs in the morning before hitting the double blacks. Most injuries happen late in the day due to fatigue. So listen to your body, and know when to stop and enjoy the après ski activities!!
To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:
Have a physical examination at the start of the season to make sure you’re healthy to ride.
Warm up and stretch before and after you snowboard.
Wear up-to-date and properly fitting equipment. Safety gear like wrist guards help protect against wrist injuries, the most common snowboarding injuries. Helmets will help protect you from serious head injuries, and properly fitting boots will help prevent sprains and strains.
If you are injured, do not try to push through your injury. Always consult a medical professional before you resume snowboarding.
Participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly ones statistically prone to injury.
Check the weather before you go snowboarding and avoid riding in conditions like rain, snowstorms, and hail.
Pay attention to the environment around you: you can evade major injuries by avoiding collisions with items on the course, like trees or poles, and other snowboarders or skiers.
Arm & Elbow
• Elbow dislocation
Hand & Wrist
• Thumb fracture
Foot & Ankle
• Snowboarder's fracture (LPT fracture)
- 25% of snowboarder injuries occur in terrain parks2
- Snowboarders suffered injuries to the lower extremities (17%), upper extremities (59%, mostly to the wrist, hand, or thumb), head (12%), and spinal column (9%).
- About 75% of injuries occur by falling down or by collision with other riders.
- Beginners, particularly first-time snowboarders, are at the greatest risk for injury.1
Snowboarding injuries are mostly to the upper limbs, and wrist fractures are particularly common as a result of falling on an outstretched hand. While injuries are likely to occur in intensive sports like snowboarding, you can help mitigate the risks by taking preventative measures. Know the causes and symptoms of common injuries and inform a medical professional immediately if you do sustain an injury.
Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.
1 “Snowboarding Injuries,” Dr. Mike Langran.
2“Recent Statistics on Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries,” Randal Cooper.