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Should Snowboarders Wear Wrist Guards? - Join the Debate

Updated on June 9, 2016
RhondaAlbom profile image

Winter Sports was part of Rhonda Albom's life as her two girls are both former New Zealand junior national ski/snowboard champions

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Calling all snowboarders: Do you wear wrist guards?

Snowboarding wrist guards seem to be an ongoing debate with no clear answer. Read one article and it will tell you only beginners need them as they don't yet now how to fall. Another article will tell 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 intermediates that need wrist guards, the riders that are confident long before they should be.

Maybe they all should wear wrist guards. Maybe no one should. The purpose of this page is to ask you, the snowboarder what you do. Wrist guards or not?

My motivation, on the day I wrote the first draft of this page I was at a New Zealand ski slope, and I watched a 12 year old rider break his wrist and in less than an hour he was joined by an Olympic snowboarder. Both of these athletes were treated by ski patrol for their freshly broken wrists.

This begs the question, should snowboarders wear wrist guards? There are compelling arguments on both sides. Some say they prevent serious injuries, others say they simply protect the joint therefore 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.

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?

See results
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Falling Correctly is Part of the Secret

Take a look at the photo. The snowboarder is a solid rider who used to also practice judo, so she should know how to fall. However, with feet bound in place, instinct takes over and look at how the snowboarder puts down her hand (Luckily there was no snap).

This Snowboarder Looks Like He Knows How to Fall to Protect his Wrists

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This Snowboarder Looks Like He Landed Wrong on his Wrists

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What About This Snowboarder:

Do you think he broke a wrist?

Did He Fall Correctly?

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Vote on the photo just above

Do you think he fell on his wrist?

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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. Let's see what you think . . .

Our Favorite Snowboarding Wrist Guards

Dakine Wrist Guard (Black, X-Large)
Dakine Wrist Guard (Black, X-Large)

There are lots of wrist guards on the market. The main thing to look for is a snug fit. These are the ones we used successfully for years.

 

Tell Us What You Really Think:

What's Your View on Snowboarding Wrist Guards?

Snowboarders, here is your chance to tell us why you do or do not choose to wear wrist protection on the snow:

Snowboarders Should Wear Wrist Guards

Yes, I agree, snowboarders should wear wrist guards because . . .

Yes, I agree, snowboarders should wear wrist guards because . . .

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    • Daryl 6 months ago

      If you fall hard enough nothing will save you except your instincts! I teach riders and always preach don't reach. Hug yourself love yourself. Accidents happen but if you land on your hand stupidly it will break with or without guards.

    • Douglas Holberger 8 months ago

      This coming winter will he my second snowboard season. I have never worn wrist gaurds. Should I?

    • Douglas Holberger 8 months ago

      This coming winter will he my second snowboard season. I have never worn wrist gaurds. Should I?

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      i decided not to buy wrist guards for my first time snowboarding, infact first time on snow, despite being advised i though , nahh im only going for a week i'll be fine. spent the first day on the greens getting used to the board and eventually picked it up quite easily so i moved on to some bigger runs. anyway, day three comes along, im going down a steep blue, pick up too much speed, fall backwards land on my wrist, it's dislocated with 2 fractures and i am now waiting for surgery. im getting a plate put in. because of this, i will definitley never go again without wrist guards even though the docs said they wouldnt have done much for me because the impact was huge.

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      as a snowboarder I say were one

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      i really enjoy

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I play volleyball for a competitive team and i am not willing to bench out matches during the rest of the season because i fell while snowboarding and hurt my wrist. So for me wrist gards are a must cuz they are additional protection against fractures and what not

    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I have fractured both scaphoids. I have also hairline fractured both radii. That's four incidents, four casts, with at least 4 weeks of atrophy per recovery. Months of strength training follow each recovery. Just wear the guards. If you think casts are cool look up the materials online and DIY one. Don't hurt yourself just for the cast.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I rather have arm fracture than a wrist fracture

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      bob says

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I don't care what others do, but I'm 58 (read:brittle bones) and do bumps, jumps and trees, and can't fly an airliner with a cast on my wrist. It's simple: my mittens have built-in wrist protection.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I fell while wearing wrist guards and ended up with a simple fracture in my scaphoid. The doctors said the only thing that prevented it from being a compound or worse fracture was the wrist guards. So now I always wear them!

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      if you've ever had a scaphoid fracture, you do not want to go snowboarding without wrist guards. never again. you have the choice: either wear those uncomfortable wrist guards while boarding, or have a cast around your arm for 3 month when you break your scaphoid...

      i definitely go with wrist guards

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I hate wearing them but, like a helmet, they make me feel safer and so I go faster and ride better.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      I have been riding for 13 years and I wear gloves with wrist guards built-in. They are comfortable, warm, and easy to wear, and they have saved me many times. They are designed by a doctor specifically to absorb the force of the fall, using flex at the wrist joint. Thus the name, Flexmeters.

      I also sell them on my website.There are Flexmeters to wear under your own gloves and for skateboarding and inline skating too.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I say that individual stories and opinions really mean not much until you put all the stories togehter, do some numbers and then call it evidence. We've all heard about the grandfather who smoked 2 packs a day until he was 90- this isn't evidence that smoking isn't bad for you. For the record I think wrist guards protect wrists with no significant increase to other injuries, because I've looked at the evidence :)

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      The first time I went out, I broke my left wrist. 2 years later, I still have pain and swelling in my wrist. I have residual tendonitis and stress fractures left over from the initial break. A combination of switching from toe side to heel side and icy conditions made me fall, and I broke my growth plate. Unfortunately, surgeons don't like to operate on growth plates because of the risk for more damage. So, I have to wait 2 more years for my growth plates to close so that the pain is gone. Meanwhile, I can't skate, snowboard, play instruments, do push ups or anything that puts pressure on my wrist. So be cautious and wear wrist guards, at least until you get the hang of the basics!

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I came close to seriously hurting my wrist on a jump. I plan on getting wrist guards for my next trip!

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      i broke my left wrist in second day of snowboarding i will always wear guards hereafter

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      I have broke my left wrist twice now, 12 years apart, i'm not doing it again, i'm getting wrist guards.

    No way! I don't wear wrist guards because . . .

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      • anonymous 5 years ago

        They look bad and fell bad

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Well let's put it this way, the doctor says, "Not to wear a cast on your wrist while snowboarding." The reason he told me this was because the cast, or wristgaurds, immobilize your wrist making it harder to bend your hand with the fall. This moves the fracture/break way higher up!

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        i don't wear them but i do when i blade.if i were to wear them snow boarding the would have to be different.i can't do the grabs i need to when i am in the park.As soon as i see wrist guards that don't mess up mt grabs and hand plants i will wear them all day everyday.Aslo WEAR A DAMN HELMET!No need to bloody up the snow with brains people!

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        i enjoy the felxibility

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I have never word wrist guards. Once you do I believe that with time you become used to them, as well as your wrists. The one time you don't end up wearing them you're more susceptible to injury.

      • halibound lm 6 years ago

        If you wear the guards I believe that you are gaining a false sence of security because you will likely just move the break to another location. Personal opinion. Helmets are another thing. Wear your helmets!

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        ?

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        I wore wrist guards the first few times i went boarding. Coming down a slope I fell forward, put my arm straight out infront of myself and tore ligaments in my shoulder. After speaking to doctors and physios it appears that wearing wrist guards saved my wrist but damaged my shoulder which is at about 70% 7 months after the fall. You have to question what is worse- breaking a wrist which might take 6 weeks to heel or damaging a shoulder which might take 12 months to heel and never be the same? I know I wont be wearing them again.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Wrist guards, helmets, pads... I get why some would think they are so important but if I wanted to be this cautious I would stay in the lodge. I don't dis others for wearing them but I don't myself.

      • Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

        Hey Paul - great argument for not wearing snowboarding wrist guards

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        It is already harder to do grabs on a snowboard with gloves on versus bare hands. I'm trying to improve my style not hurt it. I'm afraid that if I'm trying for multiple rotations flying through the air, and I can't pull in my board tight for faster spin, I'm going to crash. Seems to me in that case wirst guards could be more dangerous than helpfull. If I'm ever going to wear a wrist guard, they will need to be designed differently so I can still hold things. Just sayin'.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        I've never worn wristguards - I was concerned about them transferring the break up the arm, bit there is some intersting info here and I might rethink!

      Featured Comment from Mark H

      "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."

      Watch This Guy Break His Wrist - *Be warned, and don't watch if it will upset you.

      © 2009 Rhonda Albom

      Anything Else to Add? - All comments welcome

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        • opatoday profile image

          opatoday 4 years ago

          Job well done, TCB

        • Boardstyle profile image

          Boardstyle 5 years ago

          Good lens! I'm definitely in favor of wearing wrist protection. Also, I find that if you wear gloves with built in wrist protectors you can still easily do things like solid grabs on your board. (The pic on my lens has me grabbing it in a Method to BS 180 and I'm wearing gloves with wristprotection in it)

        • profile image

          neilKurtn 5 years ago

          I have to admit this is not really something I had given that much though too, but that has now changed due to your ACE lens. Well done and thanks for taking the time to share this information.

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          anonymous 5 years ago

          I am a 24 year old male and have been snowboarding for... 3 years now, I have worn wrist guards every time out!!!! My friends make fun of my haha but I guess it comes with the territory. I feel a lot safer wearing my wrist guards because wrist injuries are so common among snowboarders.

          First day I went I was catching on pretty quick so we decided to go down a black diamond; soon after I began I noticed myself gaining a lot of speed and tried to stop and fell pretty hard, I felt my wrist was hurting after the fall but nothing too serious. After the run we went back to the car and I was taking off my gear and as soon as I removed my gloves I noticed that my wrist guard broke!!! Better a $20 piece of equipment than my wrist.... my guards are great and I am proud of it!!!!

        • profile image

          aeaioue 5 years ago

          Safety equipment, especially for inexperienced snowboarders is important. With snow skis, you tend to fall more softly foward or to the side, but on a snowboard you are sometimes flung backward violently and can easily sprain or break a wrist.

        • profile image

          EmpowerLiberty 5 years ago

          Ouch, There is nothing worse than traveling 30 miles per hour and crashing on a snowboard.

        • catbehaviors profile image

          catbehaviors 6 years ago

          Worthy debate, it's important that people stay safe. Great lens covering the topic, you gave lots of info about wrist guards that I didn't know.

          *blessed*

        • David Stone1 profile image

          David Stone 6 years ago from New York City

          heck, I just wish I had the time to go snowboarding. WITH wristguards.

        • profile image

          GrowWear 6 years ago

          Great debate. Hope you change some minds.

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          Great topic for a debate..of course, I found getting teens to wear any safety equipment is "easier said than done"! Peer pressure seems to over ride my parental concerns..

        • indigoj profile image

          Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

          Great topic for a debate. I believe in protecting any vulnerable parts but it was interesting to read a couple of the contributions for the other side of the debate.

        • BrickHouseFabrics profile image

          BrickHouseFabrics 6 years ago

          Interesting to think about. As a skier I never wore any guards, but very different

        • Joe McGuire profile image

          Joe McGuire 6 years ago

          Nice lens, I'm thinking that I will pick up a pair of braces the next time I get up to a resort

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          Thanks for this Infromation, it will be very useful for my first time snowboarding this Winter!! Now I really can't wait, I already knew Snowboarding was exciting and now I get to go try it out!!

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

        • Magicality LM profile image

          Magicality LM 6 years ago

          Excellent debate and for me, I always wear them (under my gloves) and I find no discomfort by doing so ... Also a helmet ...

        • RhondaAlbom profile image
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          Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

          @anonymous: You would be surprised! Also by the number who don't wear helmets, but that is another debate!

        • RhondaAlbom profile image
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          Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

          @religions7: Well Said Katinka! And, thanks for the blessing.

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          thisismatt 7 years ago

          Most definitely agree with your point. Wrist guards are an important part of the gear up.

        • religions7 profile image

          religions7 7 years ago

          I think it's important to stress that the wrist is a very delicate part of the body, which will likely not heal well. It's not the same as a break elsewhere in the arm where it's simply bone that's broken - and then heals again. The wrist breaking involves breaking muscle and fiber tissue and small bones that come together very precisely. Don't risk that - if it's between breaking a wrist and an arm, I'd break that arm any time of the day!

          Anyhow, Great lens, blessed by a squidangel :)

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