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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Winter Wrist Protection: Prevent Injuries and Ensure Wrist Health for Skiing in the Rockies

Updated: May 13



Dr. Terrell Joseph is a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist at Vail-Summit Orthopedics & Neurosurgery. As a wrist surgeon in Vail, Colorado he is dedicated to providing information about winter wrist protection. He is committed to providing a comprehensive overview of common wrist injuries, preventive measures, and effective treatments for both skiers and snowboarders.


Common Wrist Injuries in Skiers and Snowboarders


Wrist injuries are prevalent among winter sports enthusiasts. Skiers and snowboarders face distinct risks. Common injuries include sprains, strains, fractures, and ligament tears. The mechanisms of injury vary, but frequently involve falls, collisions, or improper technique.

For skiers, the risk of wrist injury is often associated with attempts to break a fall using outstretched hands. The impact of a fall can result in hyperextension of the wrist or forceful compression, leading to sprains or fractures. With the feet completely strapped into the board, snowboarders are susceptible to wrist injuries as they brace themselves from a fall.



Prevent Ski Wrist Injury


Preventing ski wrist injuries requires a comprehensive approach with equipment considerations and technique refinement.


Wrist Guards and Protective Gear: Investing in wrist guards is a prudent choice for skiers who are looking to mitigate the risk of wrist injuries. These guards provide an additional layer of support and protection during falls. When properly fitted, wrist guards can significantly reduce the impact on the wrist joint, preventing fractures and sprains.


Proper Technique: Skiing with proper technique is pivotal in minimizing the risk of wrist injuries. Learning how to fall safely, avoiding the instinctive use of outstretched hands to break a fall, can make a substantial difference. Engaging in ski lessons with certified instructors can enhance one's skills, ensuring a safer and more controlled descent down the slopes.


Equipment Adjustment: Ensuring that ski bindings are appropriately adjusted is crucial in preventing injuries. Properly adjusted bindings allow for a timely release during a fall, reducing the likelihood of wrist injuries caused by excessive force. In addition to properly adjusted bindings, it’s important to ensure that the ski poles are the correct size, and the straps are properly utilized.


Prevent Snowboard Wrist Injury


Snowboarders face unique challenges when it comes to preventing wrist injuries. The sideways stance and the nature of snowboarding maneuvers contribute to specific risks that warrant careful consideration.


Hand Positioning: Snowboarders should be mindful of their hand positioning, especially during falls. Attempting to break a fall with the feet strapped onto the snowboard increases the vulnerability and impact of a fall on the wrists. Learning to fall with a more controlled approach, such as tucking and rolling, can be beneficial.


Wrist Strength and Flexibility: Strengthening the wrists and improving flexibility is essential for snowboarders. Exercises that target the muscles and ligaments around the wrist joint can enhance resilience and reduce the impact of sudden jolts or awkward landings.


Wrist Guards for Snowboarders: Similar to skiers, snowboarders can benefit from wearing wrist guards. These guards act as a protective barrier during falls, absorbing some of the impact and minimizing the risk of wrist injuries.



Treatment of Wrist Injuries


Despite preventive measures, injuries can occur. Prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial for optimal recovery.


  • Rest and Ice: In the immediate aftermath of a wrist injury, rest and ice application can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Immobilizing the wrist with a splint or brace may be necessary to prevent further damage.

  • Medical Evaluation: Seeking medical attention is imperative for a thorough evaluation of the injury. X-rays or other imaging studies may be required to assess the extent of fractures or ligament damage.

  • Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation through physical therapy is often recommended to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the injured wrist. Targeted exercises can aid in the recovery process and help prevent future injuries.


A Mindset for Winter Wrist Protection


The Rockies of Colorado are a majestic playground for winter sports, but the importance of winter wrist protection cannot be overstated. Whether skiing or snowboarding, adopting preventive measures and knowing the risks is key. Dr. Joseph urges individuals to prioritize their wrist health with a commitment to injury prevention. Request a consultation to assess wrist concerns. Safeguard the well-being of your wrists.


Call (970) 476-7220 today to make an appointment or submit a request using their online form.

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