Despite being a relatively new sport, snowboarding has attracted many followers and keeps growing in popularity. However, it is also an activity associated with very high injury rates so it is important to have a clear picture of how skill levels relate to injury incidence and patterns. Data available at present mostly details the situation in general terms, casting little light on injuries sustained by elite snowboarders.
With a view to filling this gap, a team of researchers from the US and Norway has conducted a literature study, analysing material pertaining to snowboarding injuries, their biomechanics and prevention. The team comprised researchers from the Colorado-based Steadman Philippon Research Institute, the US Ski and Snowboard Association and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Oslo University Hospital. The results of the study have been published in the current issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
As the report authors note, snowboarding injury studies seldom classify athletes by skill level but this plays a critical part in determining injury patterns. In the case of elite snowboarders, injuries are commonly sustained during the execution of difficult manoeuvres at high speeds. In this group of snowboarders, the lower limbs are subjected to greater force, while with recreational snowboarders it is typically the upper limbs that are under greater strain. As a result, injuries among elite athletes are more severe and are far more prevalent in the lower extremities. Injury patterns vary greatly across skill levels and more research projects are needed to increase understanding of the various lower limb injuries sustained by elite snowboarders. This is necessary because of the evolution of the sport and the growing number of snowboarders attempting increasingly difficult manoeuvres, the report concludes.