Can you hurt your wrist snowboarding?
In my experience of teaching people to snowboard, wrist injuries are one the most common. Although I’ve never had anyone actually break a wrist, it is not rare that someone sprains their wrist. Infact, according to this study, wrist injuries are the most common type of injury.
Most of the time these injuries are not too serious, but even a slightly sprained wrist can really knock your confidence and set back your learning. This applies to beginners learning their first turns or experienced riders trying a new trick on the jumps – it’s really tough to get your body to do something new when your confidence just isn’t there!
How do wrist guards stop you getting hurt?
The kind of wrist injury that wrist guards will save you from is the impact injuries caused by reaching out to stop a fall with your hands.This really isn’t the best way to fall, but it’s hard to not react instinctively especially when you are not used to it.
Everyone who snowboards knows what it means to catch an edge…one minute you’re riding along fine and the next you are thrown on the deck! As you get more experienced you kind of get a feel for when this is coming and can normally avoid falling, but when you are starting out these falls can come all of a sudden.
Wrist guards help absorb some of this impact. They normally contain hard plastic strips which run the length of your wrist both on the palm and the back of your hand. These are held in place with thumb loops and velcro straps which tighten around your wrist and provide extra support.
Who should wear wrist guards?
Over or under gloves?
Snowboard wrist guards are designed to be worn under your gloves or mitts. They are more low profile than other wrist guards such as skateboard wrist guards so you should have no problem fitting them under your gloves providing you get the right size.
The sizes of wrist guards you need correspond to the glove size for that brand. So for example if you use Burton size L gloves then you’ll need size L Burton wrist guards. If you’re not sure then here is a size table from burton. The measurement of your hand should be taken by measuring the distance across your knuckles on the back of your hand.
How I chose these wrist guards
There are loads of different wrist guards on the market but only a few which are specifically designed for snowboarding. The difference between snowboard wrist guards and skateboard wrist guards is that the skateboard ones are mainly designed to protect from hard impact of hand on concrete. For this reason they often have a large plastic part which protects the heel of your hand and palm.
The problem with these types of wrist guards is that they can be hard to fit under gloves.
Another problem is that they do a lot to protect from impact but not as much to help prevent bending your wrist backward and spraining it.
Snowboard wrist guards should have more support and reinforcement around the wrist. And should be low profile and neat enough to fit under your gloves or mitts.
My choice of the best wrist guards
These are my choice for wrist guards and the ones I normally recommend my clients to buy. Most of the support is on the back of the wrist which gives more protection against over bending the wrist rather than just protecting against the impact. This works really well on snow as the impact is relatively low but you can still painfully bend your wrist. Also they still allow some movement in the wrist so you keep some dexterity for strapping into your bindings. They have double velcro straps allowing you to get a really tight customized fit. My only criticism is it is not immediately obvious how to put the things on, so maybe have a little practice putting them on before you hit the snow.
These wrist guards from Dakine are built around a neoprene sleeve which easily slips over your hand. The main support is along the palm of the hand which really takes the sting out of hard impacts. They are secured with a single velcro strap around the wrist. This works great for most people, but if you have narrow hands they can move around a little.
These wrist guards from CTHOPER work in a similar way to the Burton ones, with straps around the hand and wrist. I also like the little loops for hooking your finger through and pulling them on. The support is little on the light side but is enough to take the sting out of most crashes. They come in range if sizes and starting are the best value for money.
These are the only snowboard wrist guards available specific for kids. They are the same as the adult version just in a smaller size. The Dakine wrist guards are also a good option in the small size as they are really easy to get on and off.