Of all the outdoor recreational activities, snow sports, and particularly snowboarding, account for the most emergency hospital visits.
This is according to data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the past decade alone, snowboarding injuries have risen by 100% with most of them being hand and wrist injuries.
While the number of skiing accidents has remained the same in the past 10 years, the number of snowboarding injuries is up sharply, according to research conducted in Vermont and cited by firsttracksonline.com. Snowboarders are 50% to 70% more exposed to the risk of injury when compared to skiers, according to the study, with the use of helmets reducing the risk and severity of injuries.
Boarders are most exposed to the risk of sprains and fractures of their wrists and fingers, while skiers who fail to let go of the ski pole as they fall can tear ligaments, an injury known as skier’s thumb.
Those hitting the slopes should take some simple precautions to lower the risk of injuries. They need to check their equipment regularly and wear protective gear, including helmets and wrist guards, with the latter reducing the risk of injuries for snowboarders by 50%.
Those who are novices in winter sports need to work with certified instructors who will show them the correct techniques and teach them how to fall safely. Most wrist injuries in snowboarding occur as people naturally stretch their hands to stop a fall. For skiers, not releasing a ski pole most often leads to injuries of the thumb, so knowing and practicing how to fall safely is crucial.
Outdoor athletes also need to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks when at higher altitudes as dehydration and fatigue can impair their performance and lead to injuries, experts advise.