Snowboarding Injuries

An Overview


Over the last 10 years, snowboarding has become established as a popular and legitimate alpine sport. However, at present, there are few epidemiological studies examining the spectrum of injuries associated with this new sport.

Snowboarders are typically male (male : female ratio of 3 : 1) and in their early twenties. They have an injury rate of 4 to 6 per 1000 visits, which is comparable to that which occurs with skiing. However, in contrast to skiing, in which only 34% of those injured are beginners, the majority (60%) of snowboarders injured are beginners. This is a reflection of the participant profile of this developing sport. 57% of injuries occur in the lower limbs, and 30% in the upper limbs. The most common injuries are simple sprains (31 to 53%), particularly of the ankles (23 to 26%) and knees (12 to 23%), followed by fractures (24 to 27%) and contusions (12%).

Compared with skiing injuries, snowboarders have 2.4 times as many fractures, particularly of the upper limbs (constituting 21 vs 35% of upper limb injuries), fewer knee injuries (23 vs 44% of lower limb injuries), but more ankle injuries (23 vs 6% of lower limb injuries). Snowboarding knee injuries are less severe than those associated with skiing. Fracture of the lateral process of the talus is an unusual and uncommon snowboarding injury that can be misdiagnosed as a severe ankle sprain. Ankle injuries are more common with soft shell boots, whereas knee injuries and distal tibia fractures are more common with hard shell boots. Falls, often with a torsional component, are the principal mode of injury. To prevent serious injury it is recommended that beginners use soft shell boots (preferably with a stiff inner boot for ankle support), and take lessons.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Pino EC, Colville MR. Snowboard injuries. Am J Sports Med 1989; 8: 778–81

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Snowboarding Survey. Transworld Snowboarding 1991; 4: 1–5

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Fujioka K, Janes PC. Snowboard injuries. Sports Med Dig 1989; 11: 1–2

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Harris JB. First report of snowboard neurological injury in winter sports during a 14 year prospective sports study. Clin Sports Med 1989; 1:45–6

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Shealy JE, Sundman PD. Snowboarding injuries on alpine slopes. In: Johnson RJ, Mote CD, editors. Skiing trauma and safety. Seventh International Symposium STP 1022; 1987 Philadelphia: American Society for Testing and Materials. ASTM publication code number (PCN) 04-01022-47, 1987: 89–102

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Bladin C, Giddings P, Robinson M. Australian snowboard injury database study — a four year prospective study. Am J Sports Med 1993; 21: 701–4

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Johnson RJ. Skiing and snowboarding injuries: when schussing is a pain. Postgrad Med 1990; 88: 35–8

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Shealy JE. Overall analysis of NSAA/ASTM data on skiing injuries for 1978 through 1981. In: Johnson RJ, Mote CD, editors. Ski trauma and safety. Fifth International Symposium STP 860; 1987 ASTM Publication Code Number (PCN) 04-86000047. Philadelphia: American Society for Testing and Materials, 1987: 302–13

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Abu-Laban RB. Snowboarding injuries: an analysis and comparison with alpine skiing injuries. Canadian Medical Association Journal 1991a; 145: 1097–103

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Sneppen O, Christensen SB, Krogsoe O, et al. Fractures of the body of the talus. Acta Orthop Scand 1977; 48: 317–24

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Cimino CV. Fractures of the lateral process of the talus. Am J Roent 1983; 90: 1277–80

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Hawkins LG. Fractures of the lateral process of the talus. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1965; 47: 1170–5

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Heckman JD, McClean MR. Fractures of the lateral process of the talus. Clin Orthop 1985; 199: 108–13

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Mukherjee SM, Pringle RM, Baxter AM. Fracture of the lateral process of the talus. J Bone Joint Surg Br 1974; 56: 263–73

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Matter P, Zeigler WJ, Holzach P. Skiing accidents on the past 15 years. J Sports Sci 1987; 5: 319–26

    PubMed  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr Christopher Bladin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bladin, C., McCrory, P. Snowboarding Injuries. Sports Med 19, 358–364 (1995).

Download citation


  • Knee Injury
  • Ankle Injury
  • Limb Injury
  • Distal Tibia Fracture
  • Lower Limb Injury