Even though the winter has been mild and snow scarce, I’d still like to write about one of my all time favorite activities, snowboarding. Snowboarding has come a long way from when it originated back in the early 1960’s. From having two skis taped together, to when it first appeared in the Winter Olympics in 1998, and even now where on February 6th, 2016 Chloe Kim at age 15, was the first female snowboarder to have successfully landed back to back 1080’s in a world halfpipe event. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about that is 3 full rotations in the air, one after the other!
There are various injuries that can be sustained while snowboarding. The degree of injury depends on your skill level, the terrain you are riding on and the conditions of the day.
Most common injuries that are generally seen in snowboarding:
1. Wrist injuries – more common in novice riders, but can also occur at all ability levels. Wrist injuries often occur when a snowboarder is falling and they attempt to break their fall with an out stretched hand (straight arm and extended wrist). When the wrist is in an extended position on impact there is a risk of spraining the ligaments, and also a high risk of fracture.
The best way to prevent this type of injury is to fall with an extended arm in a wing like position (elbows bent). You could also use the arm/body to take the impact instead of the wrist. Another option available is to wear wrist guards while you are learning to snowboard. If by chance you do sustain an injury to your wrist, a consultation with your local physiotherapist is recommended to help aid you in a full recovery.
2. Concussions – while you are learning to turn from your heel edge to your toe edge, there is a risk of catching your heel edge and falling backwards, potentially hitting your head. If that impact is hard enough you can become concussed (symptoms including loss of consciousness, instant headache, experiencing dizziness or blurred vision, and/or loss of memory). Concussions can also happen with more experienced snowboarders who fall riding in more extreme terrine, such as backcountry or riding in the terrain park. Due to the potential dangers, it is highly recommended to wear a helmet regardless of your level of ability.If you hit your head, be sure to monitor for signs of a concussion. It should also be noted that helmets are designed for single impact, meaning that if you have a large impact to that helmet, it needs to be replaced.
3. Tailbone injuries – an obvious and extremely common injury for the novice snowboarder is a bruised and tender bottom from the repetitive falls. There are devices available on the market to provide extra padding while you are learning, but your best bet is to sign up for lessons with a trained instructor. They will be able to effectively teach you how to link your turns. In either case of a fractured tailbone or bruising, a donut cushion may give you some relief in sitting while you recover. This may be available to purchase from your local health care provider or heath care store.
In any event where you think you may have sustained a concussion or have fractured a bone, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. The local ski patrol will be available to you at the hill, where they may assess and triage you appropriately. They may send you to a doctor for an x-ray to rule out a fracture and from there, the doctor may refer you to physiotherapy for future treatment. If you have sustained an injury of a lesser extent or notice that your aches and pains from your day of boarding aren’t subsiding after a day or so, then a visit to your doctor or physio for an assessment may be warranted to properly diagnose your ailment and help guide you through the appropriate treatment thereafter.
Whether you are out learning to ride or you are an experienced veteran to the slopes, I hope you always ride safely, but shred hard. Enjoy the time spent in the great outdoors in our beautiful country!
Stephanie McDowell MPhtySt