An injury in the snow is definitely something that every winter sports enthusiast would like to avoid. In this article I will reference a 2019 study by Weinstein et al. entitled "Common Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries" and I will tell you about the most frequent skiing and snowboarding injuries so that you can "know your enemy" and defeat him from the start.
Injuries to the shoulders, elbows, forearms and wrists are more common in snowboarders. Among these, wrist fracture is the most frequent and also often occurs among skiers, with a greater incidence among younger and inexperienced skiers.
Thumb injuries, specifically the ulnar collateral ligament, occur most frequently in skiers when they fall to the ground with the ski pole still in their hand. The term "skier's thumb" has been coined for this type of injury.
Among shoulder injuries, the most frequent involve injuries and dislocation of the joint, and fractures of the clavicle and humerus. Injuries and dislocation occur mainly in advanced snowboarders when, during a fall, they adduct their arm to protect the wrist. Young snowboarders, novices and those who attend snow parks (where tricks and jumps are performed) are more at risk of incurring a fracture of the clavicle or humerus due to the strong impact with the snow surface (which unfortunately is not always soft) when they fall.
Unlike injuries to the upper limbs, injuries to the lower limbs are more frequent in skiers due to the type of equipment used, the position and the ways of falling.
In skiing the torsional forces are greater than in snowboarding and act mainly at the knee joint, exposing it to a greater risk of ligament damage.
Fractures of the lower limbs are not very common in skiing, but when they do occur they mainly affect the tibia, in the upper part of the boot. In addition to not being exempt from this type of injury, snowboarders suffer more from foot (fracture of the metatarsal bones) and ankle injuries.
As anticipated, knee ligament injuries are the most common to the lower limbs in skiers. These occur when, by loading the knee, it "rotates and falls inwards", in technical terms this is called "valgus load with internal rotation".
Although these injuries are rarer in snowboarders, experts who perform tricks and jumps in snow parks are considered at risk.
This type of injury mainly affects the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is often accompanied by an injury to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and meniscus.
Due to the use of softer boots than ski boots, ankle sprains occur more frequently in snowboarding. There's one type of fracture that's unique to the sport: known as the "snowboarder's fracture," it affects the lateral aspect (outside area) of the talus (the second largest bone in the foot). Since this injury can be confused with a sprain, my advice is not to hesitate and always get checked by a doctor if you get a bad sprain. This advice applies not only to winter sports, but also to common sprains which can really be a tough nut to crack.
Although musculoskeletal injuries are more common in winter sports, the most serious injuries involve the head, face, spine, chest and abdomen.
Both snowboarders and skiers can suffer facial injuries (fractures, dental and tissue damage) following falls or collisions. There is a higher incidence of this type of injury in male snowboarders.
Head injuries are the leading cause of death and serious injury in both skiing and snowboarding. Concussion is the most common type of head injury.
If you receive a blow to the head, feel confused, struggle to get up, have a headache, nausea (or vomiting), whoever is with you should seek for help immediately and have you taken to the emergency room. If your friend is on the ground after having been hit on the head, they are conscious, speaking, but have pain in their head or neck, do not move them, do not take off their helmet and do not allow them to get up . Call for help immediately and have your friend maintain the position they are until the medical team arrives. While it may not seem serious at first sight, these simple actions can save their life.
When it comes to the spine, the lumbar area is the most prone to injury for both snowboarders and skiers. The latter are more at risk of incurring serious injuries due to high-speed collisions resulting in rotation, while in snowboarding the main cause can be traced back to jumps and falls.
Skiers are also at greater risk for cervical injuries which can have permanent neurological consequences.
Also, skiers win the medal of bad luck with regards to thoracic trauma, the most frequent consequences of which are rib fractures, lung injuries, pneumothorax, hemothorax and, as previously mentioned, clavicle fractures.
Abdominal and pelvic traumas are more frequent in snowboarders and concern internal organs such as the spleen, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and fractures of the pelvis.
Would it be better to stay at home?
Of course not! Do you want to give up a fun day on the snow for fear of hurting yourself? Now that you know what the most frequent injuries are, you just need to learn how to protect yourself to prevent them. In my next article I will explain you what to do. Continue following me so you don't miss out on valuable advice and enjoy your winter holidays.