Snowboarding Injuries

by PhysioAdvisor Staff

Diagnosis > Sports Injuries > Snowboarding Injuries

Most snowboarding injuries occur traumatically, usually from a fall or due to a collision with another snowboarder or stationary object. In snowboarding, because both feet are strapped in, there tends to be less traumatic knee injuries than skiing (which involves greater twisting of the knees) and a significantly greater percentage of upper body injuries. Traumatic snowboarding injuries often occur when a snowboarder falls forwards or backwards onto their wrists and hands or backside, or, from other traumatic incidents involving collisions or falls onto the shoulders, elbows, head or neck. These injuries can include fractures or contusions, joint sprains or dislocations, ligament sprains or concussion with some conditions being quite serious.

Snowboarding Injuries

Most Common Snowboarding Injuries

The following injuries are our Top 8 Most Common Snowboarding Injuries. To view our Top 19 Most Common Snowboarding Injuries to aid with diagnosis, Become a Member.Already a Member?

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Most Common Snowboarding Injuries

Wrist & Hand

Scaphoid Fracture

A break in one of the wrist bones located on the thumb side of the wrist (scaphoid – figure 1 & 1a) usually due to a fall onto an outstretched hand (particularly in icy conditions where a fall onto a hard surface is unforgiving). Associated with severe pain at the time of injury that may settle to an ache, usually located on the thumb side of the wrist. Swelling, tenderness on firmly touching the affected region of the bone and markedly reduced wrist function are also present. Pain typically worsens when gripping or upon weight bearing through the affected wrist (such as pushing off the chair lift).

                Anatomy of a Scaphoid Fracture

Figure 1 – Scaphoid Anatomy

                Scaphoid and Hand Anatomy

Figure 1a – Scaphoid and Wrist Anatomy

Elbow & Forearm

Fractured Radius or Fractured Ulna

A break in the radius or ulna bone (figure 2) usually due to a fall onto an outstretched hand. Associated with severe pain usually located in the forearm that may radiate into the wrist, hand, elbow or upper arm, in addition to swelling, tenderness on firmly touching the affected region of the bone, markedly reduced wrist and elbow function and sometimes bony deformity. Pain typically worsens with gripping activities or upon weight bearing through the affected wrist.

Radius and Ulna Anatomy

Figure 2 – Radius and Ulna Anatomy


Broken Collarbone

A break in the collar bone of the shoulder (clavicle – figure 3) usually due to a fall onto the point of the shoulder or outstretched arm, or, from a forceful direct impact to the clavicle. Associated with severe shoulder pain, tenderness on firmly touching the affected region of the bone and sometimes swelling or a bony deformity.

Collar Bone Anatomy

Figure 3 – Collar Bone Anatomy

Head & Neck

Cervical Disc Bulge

Tearing of connective tissue surrounding a disc in the neck with subsequent bulging of disc material (figure 4). Typically as a result of a fall onto the head or neck (often with the head in a bent or twisted position). May cause neck pain centrally or on one or both sides of the neck, with or without symptoms radiating into the upper back, shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist or hand or headache. Pain may increase on firmly touching the affected level of the spine and there is often associated muscle spasm and restriction of spinal movement. Occasionally there may be no neck pain, with only symptoms down the affected arm or only headache. Pins and needles or numbness are occasionally present in the affected arm or hand. Symptoms often increase during with repetitive or prolonged slouching, bending forwards of the neck, shoulders forwards movements, lifting, sneezing, neck rotation or side bending movements and are often worse first thing in the morning.

Anatomy of the Neck

Figure 4 – Neck Anatomy


MCL Tear

Tearing of the medial collateral ligament of the knee (MCL – Figure 5) typically following a valgus force (Figure 6) (such as when dismounting from the chair lift with only one foot in the snowboard and a collision or fall occurs). Often associated with a snap or tearing sensation at the time of injury. Associated with pain on firmly touching the MCL and often swelling. Occasionally associated with knee instability or giving way of the knee.

MCL Tear Anatomy

Figure 5 – Anatomy of a MCL Tear

Valgus Force for MCL Tear

Figure 6 – Valgus force (often involved in a MCL tear)


Snowboarder’s Ankle (Osteochondral Lesion of the Talar Dome)

Damage to cartilage or bone located at the top of the talus bone (figure 7), usually due to compressive forces such as landing from a jump, a collision or fall. In non-snowboarding injuries they often occur in association with a rolled ankle. Symptoms may increase when landing from a jump, during weight bearing activities, such as excessive walking or running (especially up hills or on uneven surfaces) or during hopping, jumping or twisting. Pain may also increase on firmly touching the region of the talus bone, often at the front of the ankle (figure 8).

Bones of the Ankle (Fibula Talus Calcaneus)

Figure 7 – Bones of the ankle

Talus Region

Figure 8 – Talus Region (May be tender to firmly touch in patients with an Osteochondral Lesion of the Talar Dome).

Lower Back

Sacroiliac Joint Sprain

Damage to connective tissue of the sacroiliac joint, often as a result of a forceful fall or repetitive falls onto the tail bone whilst snowboarding. Causes one sided lower back pain below the upper aspect of the pelvis. Pain may radiate into the buttock and occasionally, the groin or outer aspect of the front of the thigh. Pain often increases on firmly touching the affected joint (figure 9).

Sacroiliac Joints

Figure 9 – The Sacroiliac Joints

More Most Common Snowboarding Injuries

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Contributing Factors to Snowboarding Injuries   Contributing Factors to Snowboarding Injuries

A number of factors may contribute to the incidence or development of snowboarding injuries, including:

  • Risk taking
  • Crowded runs
  • Poor snowboarding conditions (visibility, terrain, weather, snow quality etc)
  • Poor quality equipment
  • Poorly fitted equipment
  • Improperly adjusted bindings
  • Inappropriate clothing
  • Inappropriate (or a lack of) correctly fitted safety equipment (e.g. crash helmets, wrist guards, protective eyewear etc).
  • Being unfamiliar with or failing to adhere to the ‘Ski Slope Rules’

More Contributing Factors

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Injury Prevention Tips for Snowboarding Injuries   Injury Prevention Tips for Snowboarding Injuries

  • Warm Up & Cool Down properly
  • Make sure you are ‘Fit to Snowboard’ (check out our Core, Gluteal, Hamstring, Quads & Balance Exercises)
  • Maintain a healthy body weight to minimise the load on your knees
  • Take a lesson to improve your technique
  • Snowboard to your own ability level and on appropriate terrain for your level of experience
  • Snowboard appropriately to the conditions

    More Injury Prevention Tips

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    Physiotherapy Products for Snowboarding Injuries   Physiotherapy Products for Snowboarding Injuries

    The following physiotherapy products are commonly prescribed to patients by physiotherapists to assist in the rehabilitation and prevention of snowboarding injuries:

    To purchase physiotherapy products to assist with snowboarding injuries click on one of the above links or visit the PhysioAdvisor Shop.

    Find a Physio   Find a Physio

    Find a physiotherapist in your local area who can treat snowboarding injuries.

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