Snowboarding Stretches and Flexibility Exercises
Stretching exercises for snowboarding to improve your performance and do away with snowboarding injuries.
by Brad Walker | First Published November 21 , 2010 | Updated August 14, 2017
Snowboarding is a relatively new sport. Earliest claim on record regarding creating this sport is that of M. J. Jack Burchett. He used plywood and horse reins to make a snowboard in 1929. Tom Sims created a snowboard similar to the modern ones for a science competition in 1969. Finally, it was Dimitrjie Milovich, an avid surfer, who developed the design that is still in use today. He simply combined the traditional design of downhill skis, skateboards and surfboards into something light enough, flexible enough, and sturdy enough for use in the snow.
By the 1980’s, snowboarding competitions had spread across the United States and the world. Snowboarding was included in the Olympic Games in 1998.
Snowboarding combines the skill of skateboarding with the thrills of downhill skiing. Though snowboarding is fun to watch, there is plenty to be learnt on how to balance, turn, stop, maneuver and fall.
Unlike skiing, you only have your feet, knees and core to operate the board. The board is shaped to glide freely over snowy terrain and your feet and knees steer the board and handle the majority of the stress while riding. Your core muscles are important for maintaining your balance, along with your arms. Like riding a skateboard over snow, it requires a solid stance, fantastic sense of balance, and strong ankles and knees.
It starts with the ankle ligaments: the lateral (outside), which connects the bones of the ankles as well as providing fine control of your feet, and the medial (inside), which provide stability to your ankle during movement. The calf muscles provide the energy and power for making those radical movements on the board, flexing, pressing and turning the ankles to alter the angle of the board, downhill and uphill.
Providing part of the support for your calf muscles, as well as helping to stabilize your stance while riding, are your knees. The four major ligaments provide stability to the knee joint to turn the board while riding: the medial collateral ligament (MCL); the lateral collateral ligament (LCL); the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL); and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). While your quadriceps, or thigh muscles, control the flexing of your knee during the ride.
The core muscles of the lower abdomen provide you with balance and an overall stability to your stance during the many tricks, turns and stunts of the sport. They also help to stabilize and support the movement of your hips while riding, and keeping your core muscles tight when falling will help to absorb some of the shock to protect your back muscles when you land.
Most Common Snowboarding Injuries
Even the strongest and most skilled snowboarders can get hurt, which is why new snowboarders need to learn all they can about safety before attempting to ride on their own. Even if you ski regularly, the body tension for snowboarding is much more intense than it is for regular downhill, and the movement is completely different. All the variants that make up this sport vary the injuries as well.
The most common injuries for participants of this sport are sprained or fractured wrists, elbow dislocations, deep contusions and rotator cuff injuries. The majority of these are caused by falling, and just like skiers, even snowboarders need to learn how to fall properly, because neck injuries and concussions are also possible during a fall. Not to mention a bruised tailbone, which can be quite painful to deal with afterwards.
There is also a rather sneaky injury that has become a signature of the sport itself. Snowboarders Ankle is a fracture to the lateral process of the talus bone, deep in the ankle itself. It got its name when it was discovered to be 15 times more prevalent in snowboarders, when compared to skiers. The ankle swells quickly, and may be thought sprained until a CT scan reveals the truth of the injury when the pain does not abate after elevation and ice.
Injury Prevention Strategies
The first tip, which is true for any sport that requires great balance, is to learn how to fall correctly. This technique is taught in both skiing and snowboarding classes, and is essential to coming back from the slopes unhurt.
It also helps to wear wrist and ankle braces, knee pads and a tailbone pad whenever you ride. Do not worry that they will ruin your style, because they will be hidden, for the most part, beneath your outer clothing.
Strength and flexibility training for the sport will also go a long way to preventing needless injuries, and part of that is mastering the wobble board. The wobble board will work every muscle you will need for steering the snowboard, as well as strengthening your core. Work the wobble board into your normal exercise regimen about two or three times a week, for about fifteen minutes at a time.
Other than exercising and safety equipment, there are some basic safety rules that you can adapt to lower the risk of injuries while snowboarding.
- Do not take on any run that you cannot manage safely.
- Stay aware of other skiers and boarders while riding.
- Do not go out alone and do not experiment alone, ever.
- Keep equipment in good condition and make sure you check it regularly.
- And most importantly, do not show off; it is just plain reckless.
The Top 3 Snowboarding Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective. Below are 3 very beneficial stretches for snowboarding; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions below each stretch.
Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
Squatting Leg-out Adductor Stretch: Stand with your feet wide apart. Keep one leg straight and your toes pointing forward while bending the other leg and turning your toes out to the side. Lower your groin towards the ground and rest your hands on your bent knee or the ground.
Single Heel-drop Achilles Stretch: Stand on a raised object or step and place the ball of one foot on the edge of the step. Bend your knee slightly and let your heel drop towards the ground.
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About the Author: Brad is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 100's of testimonials. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.