How to prevent pain and improve your snowboarding technique

The most common injury when learning to snowboard, apart from injured pride, is a fractured wrist (or two if you are really unlucky!) or a bruised or fractured ‘coccyx’ – the tail bone – which is a horribly painful situation to be in!

Wearing wrist guards and some padding over your tail bone is therefore an absolute must!

Once you get past the first few days of seemingly constant falls and are doing some sustained riding you might start to notice niggles in your back and/or knees, which can develop into more consistent pain and begin to encroach on your enjoyment of the white stuff.

So, here are some tips on minimising these aches and pains.

These biomechanical adjustments will also make you more efficient on your board and therefore enhance your performance.

Preventing Knee Pain when Snowboarding Similar, but less frequent, to those on two planks, pain at the front of the knee often known as anterior knee pain is a common complaint and can often be reduced by tweaking the position of your knees and your hips. The most common cause of pain at the front of the knee is patello-femoral joint dysfunction, please click on the link to learn more.You must do the following exercises under the guidance of a personal trainer, Physiotherapist or Osteopath.

1) Assess and correct your knee position when snowboarding.

Look down at your knees when you are boarding. Your knees should be pointing in the same direction as your feet. The angle that your feet are fixed on the board should be adjusted so that this is comfortable. But remember that if you have been snowboarding for a while any change in position will feel alien! Make the adjustments little by little, so your body has a chance to adjust. Most people let their knees drop inwards slightly in relation to their feet and just a couple of cm of turning the knees out can sometimes immediately eliminate the pain. This is because poor alignment results in an imbalance in the forces going through the knee, causing inflammation and pain around the kneecap and quadriceps tendons.

2) Dont bend your hips excessively

In other words do not sit down too deeply. This makes it a lot harder for the quads to work efficiently and puts excessive strain through the patella-femoral joint and tendons. To prevent this it helps to train your glutes. Deep squats are an excellent way to do this.Preventing Back Pain when snowboarding Back aches and pains are another common complaint and can often be alleviated by adjusting the position of the pelvis and lower back, putting them into a ‘neutral’ position. In ‘pelvic neutral’ the muscles that stabilise the ‘core’, as well as the muscles that enable the movements essential for controlled weight transference and smooth riding, are able to work optimally. This is because they are neither in a shortened or elongated position and are therefore able to contract maximally.

How to find and maintain ‘pelvic neutral!’

*Do not do the following if you have any back pain- you must see a Physiotherapist for a full assessment and diagnosis who will guide you through the exercise.* The easiest position to work this out is lying on your back with your hips and knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor and visualise bringing your imaginary ‘tail’ between your legs without lifting your bottom. This is what is called ‘posterior pelvic tilt.’ Now roll your pelvis in the other direction curving your back so that there is a gap between your lower back and the floor. This is ‘anterior pelvic tilt.’ You can now find pelvic neutral because it is 50% of the way between the two extremes.Now stand up and try the same movement with your feet in a snowboarding position. In ‘posterior pelvic tilt’ your bottom will betucked in too far. In ‘anterior pelvic tilt’ you bottom will be sticking out too far. Find half way between the two, this is ‘pelvic neutral.’ If you struggle to find this position it is worth you seeing a Physiotherapist who can show you how to find it and give you exercises to maintain the position. If you are able to find pelvic neutral you can strengthen the muscles that enable you hold this position when snowboarding by doing things like Pilates and Yoga – or any kind of balance based exercise, as long as you are doing it in pelvic neutral! Click on the link to learn how to train your deep core muscles that will help you to hold neutral.

Remember to make sure you do all exercises under the guidance of a personal trainer, Physiotherapist or Osteopath to avoid injury.

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