(a) The main concern for snowboarders (especially beginners) is the risk of a wrist fracture. It is estimated that 95,000 wrist fractures occur world-wide every season amongst snowboarders, although (again) the absolute risk of an injury is still very low with one wrist fracture for every 1200 days snowboarding. The problem is that the natural reaction to falling having lost balance on a snowboard is to land on an outstretched hand. The forces of the fall are absorbed by the wrist joint and injury results. Beginners, being more likely to lose balance (and fall) are at the highest risk of injury of all.
Wrist guards have now been conclusively shown to reduce the risk of a wrist injury and ideally should be worn by all snowboarders – but beginners especially. For the reasons why and much more information on wrist injuries and wrist guards click on the relevant links on the left . On the wrist guard page, you will also find specific information on some recommended wrist guards.
(b) Soft boots are recommended for beginners – they allow more maneuverability.
(c) Consider attaching the board to your lead foot with a security leash. Secure this before getting into your bindings to prevent a “runaway” board which could cause injury to others as well as being an expensive loss to you!
(d) Stop on one side of the piste and kneel or stand facing up-hill in order to see oncoming traffic rather than sitting down in the middle of the piste.
(e) The rear foot should be detached from the bindings when ascending on lifts. Be careful when one foot is out of the binding though – in effect you have a “fat ski” on one leg and are prone to knee injuries from unexpected twists (e.g. when using a surface lift like a T-bar or when dismounting from a chairlift)
(f) Be aware of the so called “snowboarder’s ankle” – this is a fracture of the lateral process of the talus bone in the foot and is very important as it can lead to long term arthritis if undiagnosed and not treated correctly. It resembles a bad ankle sprain and one major problem is that most doctors outside of ski areas will never have heard of it!! If you have persisting pain in your ankle 7 days or more after an injury from boarding this is a possible reason! Get on to your doctor – it can need a CT scan to diagnose as plain x-rays don’t show this area of the foot up very well. Be persistent or your pain will be!!!!
(g) If jumping, always get someone else to act as a “spotter” for you near the landing area – this should ensure that neither you nor someone else get a nasty shock when you come in to land. We know have some detailed information on the risks and patterns of injury associated with terrain parks.
(h) As I’ve already mentioned, watch out for tree wells – basically holes under big trees which have a deceptive covering of snow. Often these lie just to the side of marked pistes and are like the pits of trapdoor spiders! Fall in without someone seeing you (and this is usually what happens) and you’re in BIG trouble! Ongoing research indicates that snowboarders are at higher risk of tree wells than skiers.