Winter is here, and although we don’t get huge snow storms in Austin, a lot of families head to New Mexico or the Rockies to hit the slopes. Although we may feel like we’re Shawn White, most of us will fall a few times while trying to snowboard. Unfortunately, the snow isn’t as soft and cushioned as it looks! Let’s talk about common snowboarding injuries and what you can do to prevent them.
Two of the most at-risk parts of a young person’s body when snowboarding are the wrist and the shoulder.
Let’s look at how you can protect your wrist. When you use your hands to break a fall, it absorbs a great deal of impact. This can cause a wrist fracture or sprain. Wrist braces can be effective in reducing wrist injury among snowboarders, and according to U.S. researchers, snowboarders who wore protective wrist guards were half as likely to sustain wrist injuries as those who did not wear guards. In the absence of wrist guards, snowboarders should learn to fall with their fists closed to prevent injury to their wrists.
Falls also cause snowboarders to injure their shoulders. Between fractures, dislocations, and strains, we see lots of snowboard-related injuries to the shoulder every winter. Learning how to fall and how to protect your body while doing so is a key part of preventing injuries among beginner snowboarders. If you’re the parent of a first-time snowboarder, it might be a good idea to make sure your child’s instructor is teaching how to stay safe on the slopes — as well as other injury-prevention tactics such as a proper warm-up and cool-down, well-fitted equipment (especially if you’re renting), and abiding by the signs and warnings. Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury include aching, and weakness in the shoulder area when lifting your arm overhead. A torn rotator cuff, especially, will bring pain, decreased range of motion and a deep ache that tends to be worse at night or in the morning. A number of tests — range of motion, strength, or an imaging test such as a MRI — are used to diagnose such an injury. If a rotator cuff injury is confirmed, a variety of treatments can be prescribed, from ice and rest to anti-inflammatory medication. Only the most severe injuries require long-term physical therapy or surgery, so speak to one of our orthopedists today if your child complains of pain or stiffness in the shoulder after a day snowboarding.
Finally, here’s a message to all the worried parents who might be concerned about snowboarding being more dangerous than skiing: you want to rethink things a bit. According to the NIH, it’s still unclear which sport causes more shoulder injuries. The bottom line is to be careful while having fun!