If you are new to snowboarding, you will want to know how to fall snowboarding safely to avoid injuries. (I know I did!)
Falling is a rite of passage for all snowboarders, from you beginners learning the basics to you more seasoned riders attempting new tricks or exploring new terrain.
Knowing how to fall on a snowboard, regardless of your skill level can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and the possibility of a shortened ski vacation. (and save you a bunch of money too O_O!)
While I cannot guarantee that your bumps on the slope will be painless, I can provide you with some key techniques to keep in mind so that you can survive your stumbles unscathed.
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How To Fall Properly When Snowboarding?
It is easy to imagine snow as a white fluffy cushion but falling on it can be more dangerous than you think. Under the powdery surface can hide branches, rocks, or hardened ice, which can cause serious damage upon impact.
Nearly 20% of beginners have an accident on their first day of snowboarding. So I highly recommend signing up for a lesson and asking your instructor on your first day of snowboarding how to fall properly.
A key part of learning how to fall properly snowboarding is knowing which part of the body should take the hit first.
A good rule of thumb on how to fall when snowboarding is to land on larger meatier areas like your bum, thighs, and shoulders first. This will spread the impact force.
1. Bend Your Knees and Keep Your Body Low To The Ground
When you are about to experience any snowboard fall, flex your legs and lower yourself to the snow as fast as possible. Staying low reduces the force of the impact and the risk of getting ankle or lower leg injuries.
2. Falling Forward
Not the face!! When falling forward, it is easy to panic and extend your hands out to protect your face, but this can lead to nasty wrist injuries.
If you sense you are about to fall forward, follow these steps on how to fall safely snowboarding:
- Bend your elbows and bring your hands up in front of your face.
- Keep your palms open and facing outward.
- Position your arms into an ‘A’ shape – to help guard your forehead.
- Bend and fall to your knees first – to soften the impact.
- Land on your forearms with your palms flat on the ground.
- Slide your forearms in front and extend your upper body on the snow – to absorb the remaining impact on your abdominal area.
3. Falling Backward
Falling backward on your snowboard can be scary because you risk the most vulnerable parts of your body like your head and tailbone.
The focus is to avoid any impact on these areas to prevent a concussion or a broken spine.
When you feel like you are about to fall backward:
- Get to a low squat position as fast as possible. Bend your knees and stick your bum out.
- Keep your arms in by your rib cage – to avoid wrist and shoulder injury.
- Tuck your chin and neck towards your chest – to prevent your head from whipping back.
- Land on the snow with your butt first.
- Roll onto your back and shoulders – to soak up the impact.
If you have landed hard, fall with the momentum and continue rolling backward.
4. Lift Your Board Up In The Air
After falling, your snowboard can get in the way and drag you in the snow. When this happens, lift your snowboard so it will not pull and you can slide easily.
If you are more of a visual learner, experts like SnowboardProCamp and ENG Knowboard share great beginner’s tips on snowboarding and how to fall.
Andy Fossett from GMB Fitness also demonstrates a great technique on how to break a forward fall properly.
How Not To Fall When Snowboarding?
It is also important to learn how not to fall when snowboarding. This can significantly reduce your chances of getting hurt.
1. Don’t Stiffen Up Your Whole Body
It is instinctive to tense up as you fall but did you know tensing up can hurt you more?
Always brace for impact at vulnerable areas like your head and neck and loosen up the rest of your body to roll with the fall.
By loosening your muscles, you let different parts of your body move independently.
This lets the impact force be distributed across more of your body.
Some riders encourage you to clench your fists to protect your palms but this can lead to nasty dislocations like this snowboarder here.
2. Avoid “FOOSH” -ing
FOOSH is “falling onto outstretched hands” when falling forward. It is instinctive to straighten your arms and stick your palms out to protect your face, but hitting the snow with your wrists can snap it back resulting in bad injuries. Instead, let your arms and body absorb the impact.
3. Don’t Slam Elbows Onto Surface
Avoid nailing the snow with your elbows as you fall forward. A blow to these isolated points can be excruciating. Try to land on your forearms instead to spread the impact over a bigger surface area.
4. Don’t Stick Your Arms Out
When falling backward, it is natural to want to extend your arms out to cushion the impact. However, doing this increases your risk of breaking an arm or dislocating your shoulder. Try tucking your arms and chin and let your butt take the first blow.
5. Don’t Land On Your Tailbone
This is a common injury when falling on your backside. Your tailbone provides weight-bearing support to you when seated, cracking this can mean a pain in your butt forever. Ouch!
Get low as fast as possible and hit the snow on the juicier parts like your butt.
What Are The Most Common Snowboarding Injuries?
According to the National Library of Medicine, the most common snowboarding injuries are sprains and fractures, followed by contusions, cuts, dislocations, and concussions. The injury rate for snowboarders is roughly 2 times higher than those of skiers.
About 50% of injured snowboarders are beginners falling or colliding, while more experienced riders tend to suffer injuries due to attempting a stunt.
It is not uncommon to get hurt when falling snowboarding, so if you are just starting, here is a list of common snowboarding injuries to be aware of:
Wrist injuries are mostly due to “FOOSH”, falling onto outstretched hands. It is more common in beginner riders but can also occur at all levels.
When you break a fall with your wrists, you can fracture joints, tear ligaments and snap bones. On top of that, the impact can also travel up toward your shoulder, causing sprained elbows and broken collarbones too.
According to Healthline, full recoveries from FOOSH injuries can range from a few weeks up to a few months.
Ankle injuries from snowboarding can be caused by overusing ligaments, using the wrong bindings or boots, or falling. It can also happen if you land badly after jumping.
There is one particular injury unique to snowboarding called the “snowboarder’s ankle or fracture”, which is a break of the lateral process of the talus (a bone that forms the ankle).
This is not common to detect from a normal screening so please inform your physician to check for this.
Depending on the injury, ankles can take between 2 to 12 weeks to fully heal.
Snowboarders are prone to falling backward and sustaining butt bruises and spinal injuries. A very common spinal injury is falling on your coccyx (aka tailbone). A tailbone injury can be excruciating and the healing time depends on the severity of the damage:
A bruised tailbone can take about 4 weeks to heal, whilst a fracture can take between 8 and 12 weeks. Seating or lying down during this time will be highly uncomfortable and you will likely need a doughnut pillow to relieve your pain.
In rare cases where symptoms do not improve, a steroid injection may be given, and sometimes even surgery to remove part of the tailbone.
Did you know snowboarders are twice as likely to hurt their heads as skiers? Head injuries are more likely to occur when snowboarders fall backward or face a collision. They can range from skull fractures to blood clots, which can be fatal.
Mild injuries can be attended to by a physical therapist who can treat concussion symptoms. While severe blunt force trauma can lead to death, immediate medical attention should be sought from a physician.
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What Type Of Safety Gear To Wear For Protection?
A crucial part of learning how to fall safely snowboarding is wearing the right safety gear. We’ve compiled a list of essential snowboarding safety gear to get:
The Boston Children’s Hospital state that wearing a properly fitted helmet lowers the risk of a head injury by 60%.
When selecting a helmet, fit, comfort and security are key. The fit should be snug where it stays in place when moving up and down and does not feel too tight or pressured.
Your forehead should always be protected. The chin strap and tightening knob should allow space for adjustments and should never be maxed out.
If you have ski goggles, test them together with the helmet to ensure they fit well together. Alternatively, you can get a helmet with an integrated visor.
All helmets must adhere to the standard CE-EN1077 (European standard) or ASTM F-2040 (North American standard), always check this with the store before purchase.
2. Wrist Guard
Wrist guards are a great affordable way to avoid wrist injuries. There are several types available including protective gloves, wrist braces, and wrist guards.
Protective gloves are an ‘all-in-one’ wrist protector. These gloves keep your hands warm and your wrists safe with a built-in wrist guard. This is perfect for the minimalist snowboarder!
If you already have snowboarding gloves, you can consider getting wrist braces or wrist guards. Wrist braces offer more protection by wrapping around a larger area of your hands and wrists. This is more suitable if you have a past injury.
Wrist guards are the most budget-friendly and can fit in or outside your snowboard gloves. Dorsal back support wrist guards are great at preventing your wrist from bending too far back or to the side.
Whilst palm padded wrist guards focus more on cushioning your palms upon impact.
3. Crash Pants
Snowboard crash pants or impact shorts are a great investment for beginners. This padded base layer is designed to support and protect your butt, tailbone, thighs, and hips from falls. Impact shorts are a great way at keeping your butt warm and dry too.
Adjusting this underlayer while on the slopes can be tricky, so getting the right fit is key. It should fit snugly like yoga pants without restricting your movement. You don’t want it too loose either where the pads don’t protect your heinie.
There are 2 types available, impact shorts that cover up to the thigh or crash pants that cover the entire legs.
4. Knee Pads
Knee pads will help protect your knee joints against impact, preventing bones from breaking or kneecaps from popping. Mega ouch!
When selecting the right fit, make sure your knee pads are not too loose. It can be annoying constantly adjust pads that are sliding down your leg.
What To Do When You Have Injured While Snowboarding?
If you do sustain an injury from a fall, here are some beginner’s tips for snowboarding accidents and how you can protect yourself and other riders:
1. Don’t Get Up Right Away
Moving can cause more injuries, avoid this if at all possible until medical help arrives.
2. Do Not Remove Your Snowboard
If you have a broken leg, do not take off your snowboard as this can do more damage. Wait for the medical team to get there first.
3. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Call rescue services immediately on your mobile if you can. We recommend storing local emergency numbers on your mobile when you first arrive for unforeseen incidents.
If you can’t call, get help from a nearby rider to alert you for help. If they are trained in first-aid, allow them to assist you first if you are comfortable.
4. Secure The Accident Area
While waiting for medical support, ask a nearby rider to block the area to prevent further collisions with other riders.
5. Gather Evidence
Ask a member of your riding crew to note down the names and contact details of witnesses. If possible, ask them to take photos of your injury and the accident area too.
If you can, write down exactly what happened. Describe your injury in detail, including the snow conditions, visibility, signs, markings, and location.
Remember to keep records of all hospital, clinic, and doctor visits, and accident-related bills and receipts.
6. Contact Your Insurer
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, they can help speak with the medical staff attending to you and also arrange alternative transport for you to go home if needed.
7. Report The Incident
Once you have received medical attention and have been discharged, ensure you report the incident to the ski resort and get a copy of the report.
8. Claim Insurance
Compile all your documents and reports to submit an insurance claim, this will help ease your financial stress when in recovery.
9. Attend Physiotherapy
Injuries can take a few weeks or months to heal, visit your physiotherapist regularly to increase your chances for a swift full recovery.
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Should I Practice Falling On A Snowboard?
Absolutely. Snowboarding for beginners requires lots of practice, not just riding and turning but falling too.
As a newbie, train yourself to fall on purpose with the techniques shared above. Try it out on your bed, hit your local trampoline gym, or practice on the snow with your instructor.
Get used to the foreign feeling and you’ll get more confident handling yourself when you lose your balance next time you are on the slopes.
FAQs On How To Fall Snowboarding To Avoid Injuries
What Is The Best Way to Fall When Snowboarding?
So, what is the best way to fall when snowboarding? The best way to fall when snowboarding is to keep your legs flexed and body low to the ground. This can cushion your fall forward or backward. Bend your legs when falling from either side to avoid hurting your ankles and lower legs. Also, lower your body to the ground as fast as you can to reduce the impact.
How Do You Fall On A Snowboard For Beginners?
How do you fall on a snowboard for beginners? When learning how to fall snowboarding as a beginner, you never should attempt to break your fall with your hands and avoid landing on your tailbone. Your wrists are delicate and can break easily. Clip your arms close to your body and fall onto your forearms instead. Wear crash pants and land on the meatier parts of your body.
Is It Normal To Fall When Snowboarding?
Yes, it is normal to fall when snowboarding. Falling is a natural part of snowboarding for everyone, no matter your level. Whether you are a beginner learning the fundamentals or a more seasoned rider exploring new terrain or attempting new tricks, you are bound to take a few hits. Practice falling as part of your training regime.
Does Falling In Snowboarding Hurt?
Falling in snowboarding does hurt if you are not careful. A fall can cause an injury that can be painful and limit the shoulder’s motion. Snowboarders often suffer from rotator cuff injuries, which affect the muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint. These tendons and muscles hold the arm bone in the shoulder socket.
Is It Easier To Fall On Skis Or Snowboard?
Is it easier to fall on skis or snowboard? It is easier to fall on a snowboard than on skis. Beginners often fall more, and harder, when snowboarding than on skis. Having both feet on one board requires more skill to balance as you are not able to control your legs separately. It is best to be in good physical shape when snowboarding.
Falling is inevitable when snowboarding. Learning how to fall on a snowboard the right way can help you avoid serious injury.
Practice falling safely in different conditions, just as you would like ridin’ or stopping. Your body will develop muscle memory over time that will take over when the actual fall occurs.
Know your limits and ride within them at all times. Avoid caving to pressure from others and only go down terrain you are comfortable with. As the saying goes, “find your altitude”!
We hope these techniques will help cushion your fall the next time you hit the slopes. Good luck!