Wrist Injuries in Skiing and Snowboarding

Wrist Injuries in Skiing and Snowboarding

Basic Anatomy of the Wrist

The wrist is a complex joint composed of multiple small bones called carpals, connected to the radius and ulna of the forearm. Ligaments and tendons provide stability, while the carpal tunnel houses nerves and blood vessels.

Carpal Bones: The carpals form the wrist’s structure and facilitate its range of motion.

Ligaments: Ligaments connect the bones and provide stability to the wrist joint.

Tendons: Tendons attach muscles to bones, allowing for movement and control.

Mechanism of Injury:

Wrist injuries in skiing and snowboarding often occur due to the instinctive response to break a fall using outstretched hands. Common mechanisms include:


FOOSH (Fall on Outstretched Hand):

When a skier or snowboarder falls, the natural reflex is to extend the hands to break the fall, putting the wrists at risk of injury.

Impact from Equipment:

Accidents involving collisions, sudden stops, or unexpected terrain changes can lead to wrist injuries.

Repetitive Stress:

Continuous use of the wrists, such as gripping ski poles or using snowboarding bindings, can lead to overuse injuries.


Excessive backward bending of the wrist, especially during a fall, can cause sprains, strains, or fractures.

Commom Wrist Injuries:

Ligament sprains or muscle strains are common and can vary in severity.

Fractures may occur in the wrist bones, particularly the scaphoid, due to high-impact falls.

Overuse of the wrist can lead to inflammation of the tendons, causing pain and reduced function.

Treatment Options:

This is very dependent on the injury. First you will need a thorough assessment from a physio or doctor.

Initial rest and immobilisation (brace or splint) to allow the injured wrist to heal.

Wrist braces or splints may be recommended to provide support and prevent further injury.

Targeted exercises to improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the wrist

Medications and modalities for pain relief and inflammation reduction.

Surgical intervention may be necessary for severe fractures or ligament injuries.

Prevention Tips:

Teaching skiers and snowboarders how to fall safely can reduce the risk of wrist injuries.

Encouraging the use of wrist guards, especially for snowboarders, to provide additional support. We sell and hire these at our clinic.

Ensuring that equipment, including bindings and ski poles, is in good condition and properly adjusted.

Incorporating wrist-strengthening exercises into regular fitness routines to enhance resilience.

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