Snowboard Safety

Tips for having fun, not fractures, for participants of this increasingly popular winter sport.

The thought of your son or daughter hurling down a mountain strapped to a small board probably sends shivers down your spine. To remove some of the chill, have them read these tips from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

1. Wear wrist braces. Thirty percent of snowboarding injuries are to wrists and forearms, which absorb most of the forces in a fall. Snowboarders are more than four times more likely to suffer these injuries than downhill skiers.

2. Take a couple of slow runs to warm up and scout out terrain and snow conditions.

3. Stay on marked trails and avoid high drifts. Also, avoid areas around the base of trees, where you can become trapped in deep, soft snow.

4. Be aware of "snowboarder's fracture," an ankle injury doctors rarely saw before snowboarding became popular. One in five beginning boarders hurt the side of their foot just below the ankle bone. The equipment and maneuvers required for the sport are largely to blame. Snowboarders wear soft-shelled boots to allow for free range of motion for the ankles compared to the hard-shelled boots alpine skiers wear.

If you have persistent ankle pain when you're off the snowboard, alert your doctor.

5. Avoid steep hillsides with little vegetation. These possible avalanche areas become especially dangerous after a heavy, wet snow or in warmer late-spring weather.

6. Always maintain contact with a partner.

7. Stop whenever you get tired or cold.


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