The Winter is here, and even though Mother Nature hasn't given us too much to be excited about (in terms of snow), many of us will hit the slopes this year, some for the first time. When strapping into that snowboard for the first time it's important to know one of the most prevalent hazards that awaits you........... Wrist injury.
Most studies on ski/snowboard injuries show that the incidence of fractures is twice as high amongst snowboarders compared to skiers - (approximately 25% of all injuries in boarders are fractures compared to 12.5% in skiers).
The most common snowboard injury is when the rider instinctively outstretches a hand in order to try and break their fall. This mechanism is known as a 'FOOSH' amongst emergency department staff (standing for Fall Onto an Out Stretched Hand).
This injury is especially common if you are a beginner, the group spending most of their time on their butts (and their wrists).
So how do you prevent a trip from the mountain to the doctor's office?
Learn how to fall properly
Invest in gloves with built in wrist guards.
Falling properly is something taught in all entry level snowboard classes. If your going down, bending at the knees and "sitting down" onto the butt before rolling on your back ; or bending at the knees and slowly falling forward onto your knees and elbows are both proven ways to lessen the chances of injury from a fall.
Wrist Guards may seem un cool and unnecessary, but most gloves with built in guards are unrecognizable to the outside eye and they have been proven to reduce injury rates when experiencing a FOOSH. A study collating information from over 7000 snowboard injuries, demonstrated that first time snowboarders wearing wrist guards were half as likely to injure their wrists as snowboarders not wearing guards.
I know that this is the furthest thing from your mind, as it should be, when you set out to learn a new and amazing sport. Just do me a favor and keep these simple tips in the back of your head, they'll help keep you out of the emergency room!
Just some points to think about when hitting the slopes! Have fun and stay off those wrists!
Greg Minnis, DPT
1.. Idzikowski JR, Janes PC, Abbott PJ. Upper extremity snowboarding injuries. Ten-year results from he Colorado Snowboard Injury Survey. Am J Sports Med. 28(6): 825-832, 2001 2.. Sasaki K, Takagi M, Ida H et al. Severity of upper limb injuries in snowboarding. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 1999; 119: 292-2953. O'Neill DF. Wrist injuries in guarded versus unguarded first time snowboarders. Clin Orthop. 2003; 1(409): 91-95