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Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries


The winter season his here, and while we don’t see it in San Diego, snow is likely on the horizon for other areas of the state and country. Last year, we had a surprising number of patients come in after skiing/snowboarding accidents despite our warm winter. With Big Bear only 2.5 hours away and Mammoth a 6 hour drive away, it is not surprising that some people head up north to enjoy the snow. If you are adventuring to the cooler climate for a weekend trip this year, here are some tips to avoid those nasty ski and snowboard injuries that could leave you visiting our clinic.

1. Know your level: We all want to be the next superstar on the slopes, but being realistic on your skills can keep you from running into a tree or cartwheeling down the hill. Falling, be it onto the snow, into a tree, or off a ledge is one of the most common ways to injure yourself with snow sports. Having a valid idea of your skill level can keep you from getting into dangerous scenarios and keep your ACLs and clavicles intact.

2. If you are tired, take a break or call it a day: The story is always the same, “I was on the last run of the day and was tired when…” Many of our patients with snowboarding or skiing incidents state that fatigue played a major factor in their fall. Not to mention, conditions change towards the afternoon, typically for the worst either into icy (if cold) or slushy (if too warm) creating more falls. If you are starting to feel tired, don’t chance another run. There are plenty of other things to enjoy on the mountain. Get some rest and try again tomorrow.

3. Fall correctly: This is especially important with snowboarding. One of the most common injuries in snowboarding is falling onto outstretch arms, either forward or backwards. These can result in multiple injuries including scaphoid (palm) fractures, radial or ulnar fractures (wrist or elbow), dislocated shoulders, and clavicular fractures. If you are falling forward, you want to preferably fall onto your forearms with your elbows bent. With backwards, the best way is to try and go bottom first with your head and chin tucked. The idea is to absorb as much force through your body as opposed to a small surface like your palm. If it is your first time skiing or snowboarding, you are definitely going to fall so falling correctly is one of your best ways to prevent injury.

4. Take a lesson: The less you fall, the less likely you are to get injured. Spend some extra money and take a lesson, your body will thank you for it later.

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