• Skiers or Snowboarders: Who Gets Hurt More Often?

    January 20, 2017 | By Brian Coughlan

    Skiing or Snowboarding: a debate that is almost as polarizing as whether to get a dog or a cat. This season, you may have strong ideas about what gear you’ll strap on your feet before hitting the slopes, but you should take a minute to consider that skiers and snowboarders are prone to different sport injuries. Here’s a closer look at the injuries that could slow you down this year and some key ways to reduce your risk.

    Recreational Alpine Sports Injuries

    No matter if one plank or two are strapped to your feet, the majority of alpine sports injuries are due to a fall on the slopes. Other common dangers leading to injury include loading and unloading lifts (~8% of injuries) and consuming alcohol (related to ~7% of injuries). Participant age and ability level has been linked with increased risk of injury, however, this data is still emerging as snowboarding is a new sport. The oldest cohort of ‘shredders’ are still moving the bar in terms of accomplishments and limitations for their age group. Generally, beginner snowboarders have the greatest risk of injury.

    The main difference between skiing and snowboarding injuries is what part of the body is most commonly injured. While skiers tend to have more knee and thumb injuries, snowboarders report more injuries to the hand, forearm, foot, and ankle. With this data, we are able to take preventative action; read on for injury-avoidance strategies.

    4 Ways to Avoid Injury on the Slopes

    Take a lesson: Beginners tend to be at the highest risk for injury due to their developing muscle memory, stability and coordination when starting out. Compounding this risk is that some beginners are not properly instructed when first taking to the slopes.

    Fix: Invest in some lessons as a beginner to have a more enjoyable season on the slopes.

    Practice falling: Injuries due to falling backward are so prevalent that it deserves its own mention: Falling backward on the slopes is attributed to approximately 73% of snowboarding wrist injuries – including fractures. To reduce your risk, learn the proper technique for falling with your gear on.

    Fix: Try to keep fingers pointed towards you, instead of reaching your hand out with fingers pointed away from you when breaking your fall.

    Buy the right stuff: Helmets are crucial for reducing serious head injuries. No matter your level of skiing or snowboarding expertise, helmets help reduce the risk of brain injury. Properly fitting and well-tuned equipment is key to staying safe this winter.

    Fix: Check with your local ski or snowboard shop for more information on the proper set-up and fit before you head to the mountains. New equipment should be seen as a periodic investment in your health and safety, not just a one-time ‘pay to play’ charge.

    Build muscle: Skiing and snowboarding are both physically demanding sports. Reduce your risk of musculoskeletal injury by improving your physical fitness.

    Fix: Make an appointment to discuss your goals and fitness level with your physiotherapist or an exercise professional. They can offer specific techniques to improve your flexibility and fitness.

    Physio Approved: Muscle-Building Moves to Get You in Shape for the Slopes

    Whether you ski twice a season or ‘board on the daily when the powder is fresh, below are a few at-home exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine to get you ready to carve your name on the slopes this season. Happy trails!

    Images and Exercise descriptions from www.hep2go.com



    If you need help with a sports injury and have not yet seen a physiotherapist, visit us at one of our 3 Edmonton physiotherapy clinic locations (Belvedere, Namao or Riverbend) or our newest location in Sherwood Park


    • Herbert-Losier, K. & Holmberg, H. C. (2013). What are the Exercise-Based Injury Prevention Recommendations for Recreational Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding? Sports Med, 43, 355-366.
    • Sutherland, A. G., Holmes, J. D., & Myers, S. (1996). Differing Injury Patterns in Snowboarding and Alpine Skiing. Injury: International Journal of the Care of the Injured, 27(6), 423-425.
    • Abu-Laban, R. B. (1991). Snowboarding Injuries: An Analysis and Comparison with Alpine Skiing Injuries. Can Med Assoc J, 145(9), 1097-1103.
    • Davidson, T. M. & Laliotis, A. T. (1996). Snowboarding Injuries: A four-year study comparison with alpine ski injuries. West J Med, 164, 231-237.