How Traumatic Is Snowboarding ?
My cell phone is ringing ! I am in Courchevel on the slopes riding, the sun is shining, it’s the brits school holidays, and I got a desperate call from a mum: “my son got sharp pain in his right wrist !! Can you come to the chalet and have a look please ?!”. I can feel her anxiety, as her voice is in tremourous mode.
Me : “ he was snowboarding and felt off?” The mum:”how do you know ?!!!!”
Based on my experience of being a physio and osteopath in Courchevel, i have noticed during my seasons that snowboarders tend to have some particular injuries. Based as well on scientific and medical data, I can tell that surprisingly snowboarding injuries topography depend on the level of the rider and experience. You will see why that anxious phone call was for a young Brit beginner. And how training your upper body is so preventive to avoid injuries.
Snowboarding was invented in the mid 20’s, stayed highly confidential for decades and got reborn in 1965 by a guy who decided to strap 2 skis together and put a cord attached to the front end for stearing. Then the famous mister Burton from california made what snowboarding is now with his famous brand Burton Snowboards .
Here is a quick overview :
By far most of the common snowboarding related injuries concern the upper part of the body, those are the less serious ones, annoying and painful but fixable. The others are more serious, and can be life threatening.
The level of the rider is inducing the body topography of trauma. Beginner and less experienced riders tend to have more arms, shoulders, and especially wrists injuries. Good and experienced riders have more chance to have lower body injuries, and sadely spine injuries.
The most common injuries are:
Shoulders, wrists, elbow dislocation
and our number one : wrist fracture particularly scaphoid fracture
Those injuries as mentioned above involve mostely beginners. Most of bones fractures involve beginner as well with a prevalence of 50% of them concerning wrist fracture. As snowboarders have both feet binded, and because of the stance, beginners are more likely to fall forward and backward. Using their hands to protect themselves from impact on the slopes of Courchevel, they fracture, dislocate their arms.
For both beginners and advanced riders, because of the stance on the snowboard injuries accured as well for occiput and sacrum, collisions on the slopes as well due to the turns radius of the sport.
For advanced riders, injuries are more serious. They tend to fracture their ankles, precisely the Thalus. This is due to the flexibility of boots, which can cause an hyper dorsiflexion of the foot when landing a high jump. Most of severe injuries for good riders happen during Air time, as they are good to perform jumps.
Sadely most of severe spine fractures, which can lead to paralysis or even death concern good riders. Travis Rice one of my favorite snowboarder and one of the best free rider on the planet broke is L2 vertetebrea during the shooting of the famous The Fourth Phase snowboard movie. He got saved by is unusually strong muscles from paralysis.
The most recent statistics say that the accident rate for snowboarders is 3,5 on a 1000 snowboard days. The mortality is about 0,2 on a million snowboard day, thank god.
As you can figure out, having good, strong arms helps to prevent most of injuries. And it’s always good to have a really strong muscle core to protect your spine.
Ask My French physio courchevel for a specific program! Again and again prepare yourself physically well if you intend to go snowboarding as a beginner or an advanced rider.
Regarding the phone call, I stopped my session and rushed to the chalet to ease the anxiety of the boy’s mum. He was a beginner and a snowboarder. I did a safe, careful assessment of the wrist, did some tests. The verdict was a fractured wrist confirmed by x rays test . I didn’t touch the poor boy wrist as it’s dangerous to do so when fractured. He ended with a nice cast.
I went again snowboarding the following day as I had to go from one chalet to the other to treat people. But I did some push ups that night.......
Source : Department of Emergency Medecal Unit of Syracuse N.Y , U.S.A