Snowboarding is an exhilarating recreational and professional sport. It is also considered to be an extreme winter sport so you may wonder, or have wondered, is snowboarding bad for your knees. Just like with any sport or physical activity there are some inherent risks and considering the amount of impact and pressure you put on your knees snowboarding, you want to know what kind of damage you may be doing.
When you are snowboarding, you are in constant motion and your knees absorb the impact from riding the slopes, just like they absorb the impact of daily activities such as walking, but snowboarding requires a bit more work from those joints in your legs.
Overall, snowboarding is rough on knees because of the constant motion and impact to the joints. Snowboarding CAN be bad for your knees if you don’t take precautions but sometimes injuries can not be avoided.
There are plenty of things you can do to minimize the risk associated with knee injuries related to snowboarding but there is always an inherent risk when participating in sports, especially extreme sports, like snowboarding. Let’s take a look at how bad snowboarding is on your knees and discuss some ways to protect them to minimize the risk of pain and injury.
Is Snowboarding Bad For Your Knees?
The real question at hand happens to be “Is snowboarding bad for your knees” and the answer to that is a resounding yes. I mean, walking is bad for your knees, but to what extent? Gravity pulls down on our body weight and puts stress on our knees every time we stand up or walk so what does snowboarding do?
Snowboarding requires tons of movement, twisting, and frequent and rapid position changes. Not to mention you are gliding over uneven terrain all the time and your knees are absorbing every bit of that impact. Now this is not to say that you are going to suffer from knee problems just from snowboarding a few times a year but putting your knees through the extra stress will wear them down.
When snowboarding, both feet are strapped onto the same board and always point the same direction. This protects the knee from twisting to some extent but can leave your upper body open to take more of the damage from a fall or a crash.
As you increase your skills and start doing jumps and traverse extreme terrain, the chance of a knee injury increases dramatically so there is always a risk of injury, no matter what level snowboarder you are. The Chester Knee Clinic states that:
“The incidence of injuries is high among competitive snowboarders and the injury pattern is different from the pattern seen among less experienced athletes, with fewer wrist injuries and more knee injuries.”
Why Do My Knees Hurt After Snowboarding?
As I talked about just above, Snowboarding requires your body to be in a constant state of motion and the impact of every move is absorbed by your knees. Snowboarding is an intense sport and often causes sore muscles and joints. If you are experiencing knee pains after snowboarding then you are not alone as many snowboarders complain about knee pain.
I snowboarded A LOT my first 2 seasons and I often asked myself the same question “why do my knees hurt after snowboarding?” Well it turns out I was out of shape on one hand, but I also realized how much work my knees are doing throughout a day on the slopes.
If you have a previous knee injury then snowboarding can aggravate that injury and cause you to get sore or tired faster and not be as stable on the board. If you take the proper precautions and give your knees the support they need (literally), then you can protect the knees and the surrounding muscles to help keep you snowboarding for a long time.
How To Protect Your Knees When Snowboarding?
One of the easiest ways on how to protect your knees when snowboarding is to strengthen the knee muscles themselves, which we will discuss later. You can also adjust your bindings in order to relieve some of the pressure and pain caused by snowboarding. Check out this video that explains it in detail.
Another popular way to avoid knee pain from snowboarding or when recovering from another type of injury is to wear a knee brace. Knee braces serve 2 functions by protecting the knee and preventing them from hyper extending but also stabilizes the knee if it is injured. Most knee braces can help prevent ligament injuries by stabilizing the knee and significantly reduce the strain on the ACL.
Knee braces also help ease knee pain that is related to snowboarding and helps to cushion the strain on the ligaments in the knee area. This allows the snowboarder to heal and continue enjoying the slopes without further injuring the knee.
How Do I Strengthen My Knees For Snowboarding?
The main thing that needs to be worked on is stability and core strength when it comes to snowboarding. So what does core strength have to do with “How do I strengthen my knees for snowboarding?”
Work on exercises that strengthen your core - Having a strong core takes some of the pressure off your knees so they don’t have to bear all the load of your shifting weight as you ride down the slopes.
Improve your stability - Stability also plays a big factor in taking the load off your knees. As you gain more stability, you are able to use your body to move and absorb some impact that relieves stress off your knees just a bit more.
Do leg exercises that use the knees - Do squats or dead lifts or any other kind of exercise that uses your knees to move for the exercise. This will keep your leg muscles strong and as we all know, muscles help protect joints. Stand on uneven or unsteady surfaces like a beam or a ball to work your stabilizing muscles as well. If you do a mix of strengthening and stabilizing exercises you can improve knee joint stability and increase the muscle, tendon, and ligament strength of the knee joint.
You can always minimize the risk of injury and pain to your knees from snowboarding, but just remember, it is a sport that utilizes a lot of muscle groups and also puts a lot of strain on the knees so if not done right, snowboarding is bad for your knees. Always prepare yourself and stretch before hitting the mountain and always have the proper gear with you. All these things will help you have fun and avoid injury as best as possible.
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My Favorite Snowboard Gear
Board – K2 Broadcast
Goggles – Outdoor Master PRO Goggles
Boots – Burton Moto Boa Boots
Bindings – Burton Cartel Bindings
Jacket – Volcom L Gore-tex Snow Jacket