Snowboarding

01 Overview

Snowboarding is a fun activity that can be done both recreationally and competitively. Boarders are attached to a long board and slide down hills, sometimes performing aerial maneuvers. The sport gained popularity after its introduction at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and each winter, snowboarders flock to BC ski resorts. Common injuries in snowboarding include the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Elbow injuries are some of the most common injuries in snowboarding.

Shoulder injuries are a common injury in snowboarding.

Head and neck injuries are a major concern among snowboarders. These injuries can be severe and may result in permanent health problems (e.g., traumatic brain injury, complications following a severe concussion). Head or neck injuries mostly occur from a fall related to a technical error or a loss of control during an aerial maneuver or/and a large drop to the ground. Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and catastrophic injury in snowboarding.

Although rare, spinal cord injuries usually occur from a fall related to a technical error or a loss of control during an aerial maneuver and/or a large drop to the ground.

Wrist injuries are common in snowboarding, and include contusions and fractures.

02 Injury Statistics

The overall incidence of injuries sustained while snowboarding is relatively low. The most common injury types observed are fractures, dislocations, sprains, contusions, and lacerations. Upper extremity injuries are the most common injury suffered in snowboarding. Mechanisms of injury reported include technical errors, collisions with an inanimate object or a person, simple falls on ski slopes or after the execution of an aerial maneuver and/or a large drop to the ground, and falls from ski lifts.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

03 Risk Factors

Risk factors in snowboarding include: age, sex, level of experience, terrain condition, and poor weather conditions.

  • Age

    Younger age groups, particularly adolescents, have a greater risk of injury.

  • Sex

    Females are at a greater risk of knee injuries compared to males. Male snowboarders are at a higher risk than females for head injury.

  • Level of Experience

    Beginners are more likely to sustain an injury compared to more skilled snowboarders. The first four days of snowboarding are the most dangerous, where a fall on a slope is often the mechanism of injury. Conversely, more skilled snowboarders sustain injuries during a fall after the execution of an aerial maneuver or/and a large drop to the ground.

  • Terrain Park Design

    Inappropriate design or maintenance of terrain parks are a risk factor for injury.

  • Alcohol and Drug Use

    Consuming alcohol or drugs affects judgment and decreases reaction time. These substances should be avoided on slopes.

  • Rented vs. Personal Equipment

    The risk of sustaining an injury is lower when participants have their own equipment. However, it is important to note that participants who rent equipment are usually also less skilled.

  • Terrain Condition

    Inappropriate trail design and/or grooming can cause an increased risk of injury. The integrity of the slopes should be maintained by resorts. Participants should increase their awareness and adapt their behaviour when they are skiing in bad conditions.

  • Poor Weather Conditions

    Poor weather conditions, including limited visibility and snow conditions, are a risk factor for injuries in snowboarding. Snowboarders should increase their awareness and adapt their behaviour in such conditions.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in snowboarding.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Equipment – Helmets

    Wearing a snowboard helmet can reduce your risk of head injury in snowboarding. Be sure to wear a helmet on the slopes and that it is fastened correctly and free of cracks or other damage.

    Equipment – Wrist Braces

    Wearing a wrist brace will reduce your risk of wrist fracture in snowboarding; however, it may increase your risk of sustaining other upper extremity injuries.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to snowboarding.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for participants and parents to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Education
    Evidence is mixed regarding the effect of educational programs on reducing injuries in snowboarding. Beginner and younger participants should have some basic knowledge and techniques before hitting the slopes.

    Skill and Ability
    Be aware of your abilities and experience. Be aware of your surroundings—another person could lose an edge, fall, and collide with you.

    Equipment – Snowboard Bindings
    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted snowboard bindings. A qualified technician or snowboard shop should check and adjust your bindings annually.

    Snowboarding Resources
    Many organizations have safety messages, educational content, videos, and an alpine responsibility code.

    Sport-related Physicals

    Snowboarding is physically demanding and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Trips to snowboarding areas are common school events. Younger age groups, particularly adolescents, are at greater risk of injury.

    Equipment – Helmets

    Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury in snowboarding. Be sure that snowboarders wear a helmet on the slopes and that it is fastened correctly and free of cracks or other damage.

    Equipment – Wrist Braces

    Wearing a wrist brace can reduce the risk of wrist fracture in snowboarding; however, it may increase the risk of sustaining other upper extremity injuries.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to snowboarding.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for coaches and teachers to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing snowboarding in secondary schools.

    Learn more about implementing snowboarding in secondary schools.

    Education
    Evidence is mixed regarding the effect of educational programs on reducing injuries in snowboarding. Beginner and younger participants should have some basic knowledge and techniques before hitting the slopes.

    Skill and Ability
    Be aware of your students’ and athletes’ abilities and experience. Encourage them to be aware of their surroundings—another person could lose an edge, fall, and collide with them.

    Equipment – Snowboard Bindings
    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted snowboard bindings. A qualified technician or snowboard shop should check and adjust bindings annually.

    Snowboarding Resources
    Many organizations have safety messages, educational content, videos, and an alpine responsibility code.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Snowboarding is physically demanding and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your coaches, teachers, organization, or school, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Trips to alpine snowboard areas are common school events. Younger age groups, particularly adolescents, are at greater risk of injury.

    Equipment – Helmets

    Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury in snowboarding. Be sure that snowboarders wear a helmet on the slopes and that it is fastened correctly and free of cracks.

    Equipment – Wrist Braces

    Wearing a wrist brace can reduce the risk of wrist fracture in snowboarding; however, it may increase the risk of sustaining other upper extremity injuries.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of injury.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to snowboarding.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing snowboarding in secondary schools.

    Learn more about implementing snowboarding in secondary schools.

    Improve visibility in poor weather conditions by increasing the size and frequency of signage on the slopes. In clear conditions, the average reaction time from the time that a sign comes into view to the time needed to respond to an obstacle is ~1,000 m/s; in adverse weather, signage placement should allow for longer reaction time in inclement weather. Update snowboarders with weather conditions and mountain reports.

    Increase trail grooming hours during periods of fresh snowfall, no recent snowfall, or in icy conditions. Groom during the day to maintain integrity of the slopes. Inappropriate design or maintenance of terrain parks can increase the risk of injury. Use signage to encourage snowboarders to respect their skill level when entering the terrain park.

    Education
    Evidence is mixed regarding the effect of educational programs on reducing injuries in snowboarding. Beginner and younger participants should have some basic knowledge and techniques before hitting the slopes.

    Skill and Ability
    Be aware of your students’ and athletes’ abilities and experience. Encourage them to be aware of their surroundings—another person could lose an edge, fall, and collide with them.

    Equipment – Snowboard Bindings
    The risk of injury can be reduced by the use of properly fitted snowboard bindings. A qualified technician or snowboard shop should check and adjust bindings annually.

    Snowboarding Resources
    Many organizations have safety messages, educational content, videos, and an alpine responsibility code.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Snowboarding is physically demanding and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing snowboarding injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to participants, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training; and
    2. Ensuring that injured participants are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to snowboarding to prevent re-injury or chronic injury.

    Equipment – Helmets

    Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury in snowboarding. Be sure that snowboarders wear a helmet on the slopes and that it is fastened correctly and free of cracks or other damage.

    Equipment – Wrist Braces

    Wearing a wrist brace can reduce the risk of wrist fracture in snowboarding; however, it may increase the risk of sustaining other upper extremity injuries.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Get Set Neuromuscular Training
    The Get Set app contains exercises that can be done at home. Created by the Oslo Sports Trauma Center, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, and Making Waves AS in 2014 for the International Olympic Committee, the app allows you to search by body part to view exercises that work to strengthen each area of the body, or search by sport to view a library of exercises that are specific to snowboarding.

    Download Get Set for Android.

    Download Get Set for iOS.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the shoulder and back. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to diagnose and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to assess a potential concussion, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Sport-related Physicals
    Snowboarding is a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. A sport-related physical evaluation at the beginning of each season ensuring fitness to play can help to reduce risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Preparticipation Physical Evaluation.

    Resources for Snowboarders, Teachers, Resort Operators, and Coaches
    Many organizations have safety messages, educational content, videos, and an alpine responsibility code.