Preventing Injury in High Level Snowboard: Is It Crucial to Return to First Principles?

Snowboarding was introduced in the 1920s with little success. But now, this snow sport is one of the fastest growing winter sports in the world. As the popularity increases, so is the incidence of injuries. While most injuries are treated by health care personnel close to ski resorts, primary care physicians often provide follow-up care and can be instrumental in the primary injury prevention.

High Level Snowboard and Injuries

Many studies on snowboard injuries have identified the upper extremity as the most prevalent. However, these injuries are more prevalent in beginners. Experienced snowboarders commonly experience lower extremity injuries. The injury risk in recreational snowboarding is high, with a high proportion of wrist injuries. In elite snowboarding, the injury pattern is different from recreational snowboarders with a greater share of knee injuries and fewer wrist injuries.

Recent advances in sports injury prevention often focus directly on the athletes, themselves, with the aim of making them more resilient to the injury risks they are faced within their chosen sport. In snowboarding, most injuries are led by acute energy exchange beyond body’s tolerance. A BMJ (British Medical Journal) guest blogger suggested going back to the first principles for injury prevention and also mentioned revisiting Haddon’s countermeasure strategies.

Haddon’s Countermeasure Strategies

William Haddon, Jr., made numerous contributions to the field of injury control through his research on a variety of injury topics. In 1973, he proposed 10 strategies for reducing and avoiding damages on a model of potential harmful energy transfers. The strategies apply to a great variety of unwanted phenomena, which leaves a major influence on safety.

As mentioned earlier, advances in sports injury prevention in athletes aim in making them more resilient to the injury risks in their sport. In this hierarchy of injury control, “Make what is to be protected more resistant to damage from the hazard” is only the eighth strategy in Haddon’s countermeasures. However, the rest of the countermeasure strategies could also be applicable in minimising injury risks and hazards.

Let’s take a look at Haddon’s countermeasure strategies below:

  1. Prevent the creation of hazard
  2. Reduce the amount of hazard
  3. Prevent the release of a hazard that already exists
  4. Modify the rate or spatial distribution of the hazard from that which can be protected
  5. Separate, by time or space, the hazard from that which can be protected
  6. Separate the hazard and what is to be protected by a material banner
  7. Modify relevant basic qualities of the hazard
  8. Make what is protected more resistant to damage from the hazard
  9. Move rapidly to detect and evaluate the damage that has occurred and counter its continuation and extension
  10. Stabilise, repair, and rehabilitate the damage or injured person

To reduce the risk of injury in snowboarding, using safety equipments such as helmets, back protectors, elbow pads, wrist guards, padded gloves, and hip, knee, and shin pads is recommended. Those who are in charge of snowboard facilities should have the facilities maintained properly, including the pipe, jumps and other obstacles.

Role of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy can be a part of promoting safety in sport. It is important for competitive snowboarders to cope with the increasing demands for strength, endurance, and general fitness through appropriate training.

Physiotherapists can help by providing

  • Pre-season physical assessment
  • Specific training to improve movement skills, balance, and coordination
  • Exercises to improve jumping
  • Increased awareness and ability to correct faulty technique

Snowboarding, especially at high levels, comes with high risk of injury. Engaging on injury prevention using basic principles and Haddon’s countermeasure strategies can go a long way when it comes to safety of the athletes. Here at i Physio Perth, we take part in injury prevention by preparing your body for the sport.

Ready to take snowboarding to the next level? Make sure you’re perfectly conditioned. Call us today at 9444 8729!