Common Snowboarding Injuries

Common Snowboarding Injuries
In the past decade, snowboarding has become one of the most popular winter sports. At first, it was considered to be a sport for the younger generation. However, as veteran skiers learned more about snowboarding, they realized that it caused fewer knee injuries than alpine skiing. As such, it is not unusual to see people in their fifties and sixties on snowboards.

Unlike downhill skiing, in snowboarding, your feet are strapped to one board, and are always pointing in the same direction. For this reason, snowboarders are less likely to experience anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, which are sometimes the result of twisting movements.That said, if a snowboarder falls, his upper body will absorb the impact. Since the rider can't extend one leg to recover balance, he will instinctively outstretch a hand to break the landing. Thus, in most cases, a snowboarder wipe-out will result in a landing on the hands, shoulders, butt or head. This might result in upper body injuries.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

The rotator cuff is comprised of the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. These important muscles support and stabilize the movements of your arms. Injuries to this area will decrease range of motion and cause severe pain.

In some cases, a rotator cuff tear might require arthroscopic surgery. Symptoms of a torn rotator cuff include pain when moving your arm away from your body, pain that is accompanied by weakness, difficulty sleeping on the injured side and pain when lifting objects overhead. Fortunately, not all rotator cuff injuries result in a complete tear. Minor injuries can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, ice and strengthening exercises.


Broken Collarbone

A search through YouTube will bring up a multitude of videos showing snowboarders breaking their collarbones on the slopes. These injuries often occur while riding the rails or performing other snowboarding tricks. The collarbone, otherwise known as the clavicle, is centrally attached to the sternum or breast bone. Its outer side is attached to the shoulder complex. A broken collarbone is often the result of a fall on to an outstretched hand. This type of fall is common to snowboarders. Because of the anatomical arrangement between the collarbone, shoulder complex and sternum, when this type of fall occurs, the force is transmitted up the arm, resulting in a fracture.


A concussion is a head injury that is common to both skiers and snowboarders. It can either be the result of an unfortunate encounter with an unyielding tree, or a fall resulting in a landing on the head. During a concussion, the brain actually moves within the head. This causes all of the brain cells to fire simultaneously. The victim might feel as if he is experiencing a seizure. Symptoms of a concussion include disorientation, confusion, memory loss, fluid draining from the ears and unequal sized pupils. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet might prevent a concussion.

Wrist Injuries

Injuries to the wrist are quite common amongst snowboarders. This is due to a phenomenon known as FOOSH, which is an acronym for Falling On to an Outstretched Hand. For this reason, many snowboarders use wrist guards. In fact, some glove manufacturers design gloves with integrated wrist protection.

Ankle Injuries

Snowboarding boots are much more comfortable than ski boots. However, this comfort comes with a price. Increased comfort translates into less support, and less support may result in an ankle injury. Since novice snowboarders tend to favor softer, but less supportive boots, they often fall victim to ankle injuries. Injuries to the ankle may occur when a rider lands from a jump. If the the ankle inverts, or turns inward, a fracture may occur. As such, many expert snowboarders are now opting for harder snowboard boots.


Article Written By Lisa Mercer

In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.

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