Common Skiing / Snowboarding Upper Body Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Posted by Chase Rollier on 2023 Dec 28th

Common Skiing / Snowboarding Upper Body Injuries and How to Prevent Them

When you're enjoying a fine snow filled day on the hill occasionally you can fall. How you fall and what you do when you fall can drastically change or mitigate any injuries. Below we will break down some of the most common injuries among skiers and snowboarders and what can be done to prevent them.

Wrist Fractures

While a wrist can be fractured in a nigh infinite number of ways, there is one situation that causes it more than anything, falling. When you're falling your first instinct is to reach out with outstretched arms and slow your fall to reduce the damage taken. While catching yourself, if your hand is improperly positioned or you're falling too fast this can lead to a wrist fracture. In order to prevent this a couple things can be done. Land on your side instead of your front, back, or hands. Use your hands to protect your head instead. By landing on your hand, you are taking the falling force and distributing it on two small points (your palms). By landing on your side, you increase the surface area which better distributes the force. Staying loose and not tensing up does wonders in reducing injury as well.

Thumb Injury

A large amount of thumb injuries on a mountain are from skiers. This is because when skiing, often times, ski poles are used. When you slip or fall holding onto a ski pole it can jam the pole into your finger causing a fracture or torn ligament. The best way to prevent this kind of thumb injury is to not death grip your ski poles when you fall. When falling stay loose and try your best not to tense up. A simple calm demeanor when falling can be the difference between getting up and continuing vs busting your finger and having to leave early.

Clavicle / AC Joint / Shoulder Joint Injuries

These are some common injuries between both skiers and snowboarders. This is typically caused by going off a jump and landing down hard on your shoulder. The best way to avoid this is to watch the way you fall. It's okay to land on your side. It's not okay to land on your shoulder. As we said before when falling you want to distribute your weight by increasing the surface area. Second way to avoid this is to understand your level of skill. This can happen if you are a novice wanting to do bigger jumps and more risky runs. Know where your skill level lies and gradually work your way to where you want to be. Bigger jumps typically lead to harder falls. Being experienced enough to know how to fall properly from a higher height is paramount in reducing these injuries.

Humerus Fractures

After all this talk about distributing the weight by increasing the surface area, I'm here to tell you, sometimes it's not enough. The main reason for humerus fractures come from strong impacts to the arm. When you land on your side this could happen. But only if the force applied is excessive. In Lamens terms, if you beeline down a hill at Mach 1, there is no technique that you can employ that will allow you to stop safely if you fall. This fracture is usually caused by ambition meeting reality. The main prevention for this injury, slow down and don't get overconfident in your skills. By maintaining a safe downhill speed, you massively decrease the risk of fracturing your humerus.