The Winter Olympics are a time to watch the world best cold weather athletes compete and perform at the highest level, and there are few performances more entertaining than in the sport of snowboarding. Between the half pipe, big air and snowboard cross races, the competitions are as impressive as they are entertaining with fast speeds and big skills. But with that speed and skill can come some pretty significant injuries.


Here are some of the most common injuries within the sport of snowboarding and how you can try to help protect yourself against them:



Wrist injuries are very common, especially amongst the beginner snowboarder. When learning to snowboard, falls happen. A lot. A beginner snowboarding will instinctually put their arm out to catch them when falling. The force of impact can cause the soft tissue of the wrist to sprain or for the bones to fracture.

A wrist injury can take 6-8 weeks to recover from or even longer depending on the structures involved. Wrist injuries can sometimes be avoided by wearing a brace or support and by making sure to fall the correct way.



Similar to wrist injuries, shoulder injuries can occur when a snowboarder falls on an outstretched arm. If the forces from falling can be transmitted up the arm to the elbow or shoulder. In more elite athletes, shoulders were more frequently injured than wrists due to the advanced level of tricks and increased speed.

The shoulder is a very lax joint, providing a lot of flexibility and mobility for activities of daily living. However, this predisposes the shoulder to injuries like dislocation, labral injuries or rotator cuff tears. Injuries to the shoulder may require surgery and can take months to recover from. Snowboarders can try to reduce their risk of shoulder injuries by learning the correct falling mechanics.



Snowboarders can be vulnerable to ankle injuries as well. A common snowboarding injury to the ankle is actually referred to as “snowboarder’s ankle” – a lateral fracture to the talus. This type of injury occurs when a snowboarder’s foot is locked into in a dorsiflexed position and then forcefully twisted. This force compresses the talus bone and can cause fracture. Ankle fractures are not the only thing to be weary of, as this mechanism of injury can also cause a high grade ankle sprain.

Ankle fractures and sprains can take weeks to recover from and typically require immobilization and rest time. Wearing a harder snowboarding boot can help protect the ankles against injury, however sometimes this just leads to more knee injuries. A prophylactic ankle strengthening routine can also be helpful in reducing the risk of injury.



While knee injuries in snowboarding are not nearly as common as in skiing, they are still prevalent in the sport, especially amongst elite riders. It is thought that having snowboarding boots locked in side by side to a fixed surface is protective to the knees, but injuries can still occur when travelling at high speeds or performing high level tricks. When a collision or fall occurs and the boots are too rigid, a twisting force can cause damage to the ligaments of the knee.

Knee braces can be worn to help reduce the risk of these types of injuries, but strengthening the hips and core can be helpful in preventing them too.


As long as you’re snowboarding, injuries can never 100% be avoided. But as long as you’re having fun and being as safe as possible, snowboarding can be an awesome source of physical activity. If you do sustain a snowboarding injury, physical therapy can help you in recovering so you can get back to the slopes in no time.