What You Should Know About Snowboard Injuries

Snowboarding is a popular winter sport, particularly among children, teens, and young adults. Although it's a fun sport, unless you develop your skills, learn the potential dangers, and practice the necessary safety measures, you can get hurt.

Types of Injuries That Occur

Since snowboarding involves fast speeds, injuries – sometimes serious injuries – can occur if you:

  • Aren't physically fit

  • Fail to follow safety rules and guidelines

  • Don't use the appropriate equipment

Common snowboard injuries include:

  • Broken wrist, arm, and leg bones

  • Concussions

  • Shoulder injuries, including rotater cuff injuries

  • Ankle sprains and fractures

  • Muscle strains of the legs and back

  • Knee injuries

How Injuries Occur

Besides the risk of overuse and trauma injuries, becoming fatigued while snowboarding increases the risk of injury. If you are making a day of snowboarding, it's important to take rest breaks and stay well hydrated.

Head injuries, especially concussions, can occur if you fall backward and hit your head or collide with a tree or another snowboarder. While minor head injuries may occur from a fall, any hard blow to the head can cause a serious head injury.

Beginners, in particular, are at high risk of wrist injuries. When you lose your balance on a snowboard and feel yourself falling, a natural reaction is to stretch out your arms to break the fall. Unfortunately, when you land on an outstretched hand, your wrist absorbs the impact of the fall.

Because the sport requires a good deal of leg movement, injuries involving the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints of the knees and ankles can occur. Knee injuries can happen when you fall directly onto your knees or twist a knee. Ankle sprains and fractures can occur from the impact of hard landings following jumps.

Preventive Measures

Knowing the potential risks associated with the sport of snowboarding so that you can take the appropriate precautions can help you remain injury-free. You can minimize the risk of injury by:

  1. Honing your ability and building your endurance and core strength. The more skilled and fit you are, the better prepared you will be for the sport.

  2. Wearing clothing that doesn't restrict movement. Although soft boots make it easier to maneuver the snowboard, wearing stiffer boots and adjusting the bindings tighter on your feet helps prevent ankle sprains and fractures. Bindings should provide a snug fit, not fit too tightly or too loosely. It's also important to use the proper size snowboard for your height, weight, and boot size.

  3. Wearing protective gear, including wrist guards, to decrease the chance of wrist injury in a fall, a helmet to reduce the risk of head injury, and goggles to protect your eyes. Wraparound style snowboard goggles allow you to see what's coming at you from the sides as well as straight on.

  4. Learning how to fall. Rolling out of a fall by landing on your bottom first and then rolling onto your back with your arms tucked against your body can help prevent wrist injuries, a broken collarbone, and shoulder injuries. Making fists with your hands and punching the snow with your wrists can also help prevent wrist injury when you fall.

  5. Wearing elbow guards and knee pads to protect against bruises and contusions when you fall.

  6. Snowboarding on the appropriate terrain for your skill level. A terrain park equipped with ramps and rails for riders to do jumps and tricks isn't necessarily the best environment for a beginner. Avoid snowboarding on steep terrain until you build confidence and skill.

If an injury does occur, contact a physical therapist, like Procare Physical Therapy, to begin treatment.

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