Head injuries are one of the worst things that can happen to you when you snowboard. If you learn how to fall properly, you can reduce that risk and keep yourself out of the emergency room.
When you’re going snowboarding you need to remember that safety should always come first. Back when I was in college I never wore a helmet, and laughed at people who did.
However I experienced a coupled concussions, but one was so bad I wasn’t the same for 6 months. I believe in being crazy on a snowboard, but I also believe you need to be safe.
In recent years, I’ve become an instructor and refuse to teach anybody unless they’re wearing a proper snowboarding helmet.
How Do You fall On A Snowboard?
There’s multiple ways you fall on a snowboard, some are good (we’re going to go over those) and others are very bad. When you don’t fall correctly, it’ll make you have a bad day.
Typically the worst injuries snowboarders can face involve their head. This usually stems from clipping the wrong edge and this flings them downhill at a high speed.
It’s really painful…don’t do that.
If you’re a little confused and are worried about catching the wrong edge. Go back and first read my article on this topic called proper snowboarding stance.
Another way snowboarders can fall is by faceplanting. There isn’t much to say about this, it’s self explanatory, and I’ll go over ways to dodge this issue below.
Probably the best way to fall when snowboarding is landing on your butt. Especially when you’re on a groomed run. When learning how to fall I stress this to my classes. It’s much better to land on your butt than on your head.
My final way to fall is a pretty epic one, and only can be done at high speed. While it does involve clipping the wrong edge, the way you fall is different. I call it pinwheeling. This fall has you spinning downhill and the board is like a pinwheel. While it doesn’t go that far, it sucks.
I don’t want you to worry, a lot of what you’re reading can be mitigated by having the right stance. In fact, if you have the proper stance, it’ll go a long way towards keeping you safe.
Nothing is perfect, but it’ll help a lot.
How To Land When Falling On A Snowboard?
First off, the best way to not injury yourself, is not falling. If you don’t fall you won’t get hurt. Keep in mind, this isn’t a perfect world, and you will fall. Here’s a few quick tips for when you feel the ground coming up at you.
- Aim for a pile of fresh snow. If you’re shredding in Minnesota, it’s probably not fresh. This is where my tips below will come in.
- When you feel yourself losing balance. Crouch down, and try to get lower. Being closer to the ground reduces the distance you’ll travel when falling. This makes the impact less eventful.
- Ride within your comfortability level. I’m not saying don’t challenge yourself. Just be smart about it, don’t ride a black diamond when you get off the bunny hill.
Stay Low When Shredding On A Snowboard.
When you snowboard falling is going to happen. I teach for SkiJammers in Minneapolis, and something we say in that ski school, is “If you’re not falling you’re not learning.” I fall regularly in my classes because I’m usually trying to do something I haven’t mastered yet, and 3rd graders make fun of me for it.
One of the best ways to mitigate injury from falls, is to stay low. When you’re snowboarding your stance should be in an athletic position anyway.
However when you feel an edge catch or you feel yourself going down. Try to get lower by crouching if you can. (really depends on how you’re falling).
If you ride crouched, half the battle is won here, because you’re closer to the ground already, and when crouching you’ll have better control.
***Also If Falling Backwards Tuck Your Chin, This Will Protect Your Head From The Initial Hit To The Ground.
How To Fall And Protect Your Butt.
Okay, so you’re cruising down a hill and you catch your heel edge and you feel yourself going backwards. What do you do?
For me, I’ll already be crouching a little, and I’ll start to crouch more. In addition to this, I’ll bend forward at my waist and try to land on one of my Butt cheeks (which one depends on the angle of the run and how I’m falling etc.).
Falling on a butt cheek is an excellent plan to avoid injury. You might get a bruise but it’s a lot better than a broken bone.
When falling backwards be sure to protect your head at all costs. Make sure you tuck your chin when crouching forward. This is the easiest way to get a concussion and you don’t want one.
In addition to that, don’t try to land on the middle of your butt. Pick one side. This stops you from bruising your tail bone.
How To Fall Forward – Using Your Forearms
If you find yourself shredding and start falling forward. Your first reaction will be to reach out with your hands to stop your fall. DO NOT do this. Instead put your arms out but bend the elbow and make contact with your forearms and the snow.
Doing this will help dissipate the energy and if you do this correctly you’ll slide forward for awhile as your forearms have just become little skis. Congratulations! You’ve become a skier, and you’re laying in the snow and riding down a hill.
A couple of things to be careful of when doing this.
- Do this while making a fist. Otherwise you can cause serious injury to your fingers or wrist.
- Practice landing on your forearms on the bunny hill first. This does take a little skill, and you shouldn’t just fall on them, you’re wanting to fall so it dissipates the energy through your arms into your body, and downhill.
- If done correctly, it can be a fun ride down, but try to stay away from the woods and move yourself to relative safety.
Safety On A Snowboard – Final Points.
- Practice falling on your butt, and your forearms, a few times before getting on a chair lift. Get comfortable with it, making sure you know what to do.
- Don’t ride above your skill level. I see people do this all the time. Black diamonds and the park are fun. But if you can’t hang in there don’t go. You can injure yourself and others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself. But if you drop into a black diamond and you heel it down the whole way. Go back to a blue run and increase your skills.
- Always Wear A Helmet. Concussions Are One Of The Top Injuries Snowboarders Can Get. You Need Your Head When You’re 50. Protect it.
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