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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Snowboarding for Beginners: How to Avoid Injuries

Snowboarder falling and injuring himself

The most dangerous time to snowboard is when you’re learning. At our Eagle and Summit county orthopaedic clinics, we usually see injured snowboarders in their first few days (or hours) on the board.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help new snowboarders avoid orthopaedic injuries.

Common Upper Extremity Injuries in New Snowboarders

Snowboarder with should pain

The majority of injuries we see from new snowboarders are to the upper extremities. These injuries include:

  • Wrist Fractures and Sprains: Snowboarding can be a tricky sport to learn. Beginners fall, and when they do, they typically put their arms out to break the fall. This can cause injuries to the wrist joint and result in several fractures and sprains we see during ski season.

  • Shoulder Dislocations and Fractures: Again, these orthopaedic injuries are mainly due to falling and landing the wrong way. Shoulder dislocations with fractures or tears to the surrounding ligaments can increase your likelihood of a repeat dislocation by 85%. In those instances, arthroscopic surgery can help restore your shoulder stability.

  • Torn Rotator Cuffs: Repeated and traumatic injuries to the rotator cuff (again, caused by falling) puts pressure on your shoulder joint and can lead to a torn rotator cuff. A partial tear can be treated with non-surgical methods and physical therapy, but a full-thickness tear requires surgery to keep the tendon from retracting.

  • Knee Injuries: ACL tears aren’t as common in snowboarders, but they do happen. Other common knee injuries include tears to the MCL (medial collateral ligament, which is on the inside of the knee) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament, which crosses the ACL and helps stabilize the knee).

How Beginners Can Avoid Snowboarding Injuries

New snowboarder avoiding injuries

Preparation, protection, and awareness are critical for new snowboarders. Aside from strengthening your core and leg muscles, here are a few strategies for avoiding injuries as you learn to snowboard.

  • Use protective gear. We strongly recommend wrist guards for new snowboarders. Some gloves even come with built-in wrist guards!

  • Learn to fall properly. A snowboard instructor can show you how to fall in a way that reduces your risk of injury to the wrist and shoulder.

  • Don’t attempt a run beyond your skill level. Since most snowboarding injuries are caused by falling, don’t put yourself in a situation where severe falls are likely. There’s no shame in walking down the mountain.

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Collisions can cause knee injuries, including fractures and ligament tears.

  • Start with softer boots. Softer boots give you more control of the board, which can help reduce falls and collisions.

Just like any sport, snowboarding requires common sense. Wear your helmet, listen to your body, and know your limitations. Taking these simple steps will help minimize the risk of snowboarding injuries so you can enjoy your time on the mountain.

For additional reading, check out “Tips for Staying Injury Free This Ski and Snowboard Season,” by Vail-Summit Orthopaedics (in which Team Joseph was a contributing source).

Injured on the Slopes? Vail’s Most Trusted Knee, Elbow, Hand & Wrist Surgeon Can Help

Accidents happen. If you’re experiencing pain in the upper extremities after a fall on the slopes, let Team Joseph help get you back on your board!

Contact us today at (970) 476-7220 or request an appointment online.


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