Wrist Guards for Snowboarders - Are they necessary?
Snowboarders: Do you wear wrist guards?
Wrist guards for snowboarders seem to be an ongoing debate with no clear answer. One article will tell you that only beginners need them as they don't yet now how to fall. Another article will inform you that wrist guards are important for racers or park riders. And if you look hard enough you can find information telling you it is the intermediate riders that need protection, the athletes that are confident long before they should be.
On the day I wrote the first draft of this article, I was at a New Zealand ski slope. As the morning progressed, a 12-year-old rider snapped his wrist and, less than an hour later, an Olympic snowboarder joined him in the ski patrol medical center. Both were treated for freshly broken wrists.
This begs the question, are wrist guard for snowboarders necessary? There are compelling arguments on both sides. Some say they prevent serious injuries; others say they simply protect the wrist joint while shifting the break higher up the arm. Those in favor of using the safety gear will add that the wrist is far more complex than the forearm, therefore more difficult to repair.
Statistics on Snowboarding and Wrist Guards
How important is it to protect your wrists while snowboarding?
From the Scottish Snow Sports Safety Study:
- 25% of all snowboard injuries affect the wrist joint
- 70% of all snowboard related wrist injuries were fractures (broken bones)
- There are an estimated 95,000 wrist fractures each year among snowboarders worldwide.
From the Colorado Snowboard Injury Survey:
- Snowboarders wearing wrist guards are half as likely to injure their wrists as snowboarders not wearing them.
So the choice is obvious, all snowboarders wear this safety gear, right?
Wrong, worldwide, only about 10% of snowboarders wear them. To the non-athlete, this may not make any sense at all, but snowboarders have definite opinions on this topic. Many will offer strong arguments not to wear the wrist guards. Many who start out wearing them, stop at some point.
Learn How to Fall
Learning the Proper way to Fall is only Part of the Solution
Take a look at the photo. The snowboarder is a solid rider who also practices judo. She knows how to fall. However, with feet bound in place, instinct takes over and look at the awkward way the snowboarder puts down her hand. (Luckily there was no snap).
This Snowboarder Looks Like He Knows How to Fall to Protect his Wrists
This Snowboarder Looks Like He Landed Wrong on his Wrists
Our Favorite Snowboarding Wrist Guards
While we have tried many brands and styles, these wrist guards remain our favourite. The velcro allows them to be comfortable and they are flexible with tapered top splints. **Importantly, we found that we need to get gloves one size larger to fit over the wrist guards.
Are snowboarding wrist guards important?
More importantly, do you use them when you are out on the snow - always, sometimes, not anymore or never?
Do you wear wrist guards when you snowboard?
Watch This Guy Break His Wrist - *Be warned, and don't watch if it will upset you.
"I've been wearing wrist guards for over 13 years snowboarding, it took one instance where I forgot to put my wrist guards back on, and I shattered my wrist and broke my radius and ulna. Now I have a permanent reminder with a nice scare and titanium plate in my arm. I hope everyone, every parent who has a child start out in snowboarding makes it mandatory."
© 2009 Rhonda Albom