Snowboarding? Avoid Spills on the Hills
Snowboarding is our fastest-growing sport, according to the National Sporting Goods Association.
Jumps, spins and other on-the-edge moves by some athletes may make this sport look riskier than skiing. But doctors say the danger is about equal.
"Out of every 1,000 people on the slopes on a given day, three or four will end up seeing a physician, and the rate is about the same whether they're skiers or snowboarders," says Colorado orthopedic surgeon Peter C. Janes, M.D. Dr. Janes has done extensive research on snowboarding injuries.
Skiers tend to twist knees and sprain thumbs, Dr. Janes says. Snowboarders often break wrists and ankles because they go down harder when they crash. The lead foot has twice the injuries of the back foot, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.
As boarders improve, they suffer fewer injuries. "But the injuries tend to be more serious, because they're doing jumps and aerials, or they collide with trees or other skiers," says Dr. Janes.
A Colorado study found broken wrists are just half as likely when boarders wear wrist guards.
Tips to prevent injury
Wear wrist guards, arm guards, shin guards and a helmet.
Rent or buy gear from a shop that knows how to fit boots and bindings and how to choose the right board.
Take lessons from a certified instructor.
Don't land on your open hands when you fall or get up until you stop sliding. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests keeping your hands in closed fists while you snowboard so you won't be tempted to break your fall with an open hand.
Dress in layers of clothing for protection from injuries and cold.
Stay alert, take time to rest and don't overextend yourself.
Don't let young children snowboard without adult supervision.