In preparation for my wife's first snowboarding experience, we spared no expense in outfitting both of us with the latest safety gear available. We purchased Demon d30 butt pads, new helmets and the Dakine wrist guard gloves. We hired a personal instructor for 10 hours over two days. Obviously, this was incredibly expensive but my hope was for many family boarding trips in our future. Unfortunately, on the second day, my wife fractured her radius near the wrist. She'll require surgery to repair it and will be in a cast for 6-8 weeks. It will heal but it sucks.
The question is: Would her wrist have broken without the gloves? Did the gloves help at all? I'm not sure but I don't think so. She got going too fast and fell on her back-side, putting her hands behind her to break the fall, breaking her arm instead. The salesperson at our local ski shop told us he has heard that wrist braces move the force up the arm and cause the break to occur further up the arm. My wife's fracture is inside the area where the gloves provide reinforcement. It does not appear to be a flex over the end of the brace. Perhaps the impact was just too great for her bones and it was gonna break somewhere, regardless of the gear. Is it better to break the larger bones or the smaller, more intricate bones of the wrist? I am not an orthopedist so I can't comment on that. It is a typical wrist injury but hers is particularly bad. It splintered and will require a plate to repair. The prognosis is good for a full recovery but the loss of income will be lasting. She doesn't plan to board again, ever. She is no sissy, its just impractical to risk our livelihood so that she can slip fast on snow. She'll enjoy spa days should we take such trips but until my daughter is old enough, it's likely going to be boys vacation from now on.
I am posting here in hopes to share the wisdom that she and I earned the hard way. Stop when you are tired
! If its your first time, board the first day with an instructor. Then take no more than 1 or 2 short runs on day 2. Then try again, after resting, on day 3. I advised her to take the second day off but who listens to their spouse? She's definitely a type-A personality and suggesting she not continue to work hard is heresy. I would now insist but its too late for that. She even felt it after lunch that day, she hit a brick wall and wanted a nap
. Oh how I wish we could turn back the clock and listen to that inner voice. So will you please listen to your inner voice
? If you don't feel like riding, if its more work than fun, go get a massage or hit the hot tub. Have a drink and enjoy yourself, off the slopes.
Second, I failed to show her what someone showed me. I showed my son when he started and reinforced when he wanted to hit the jumps on our last day. Clip into your board, place your hands out in front of you. sit. Don't let your arms do ANYTHING. Just sit. Then stand up. Do it again. Sit. Do that 10 times. Convince yourself that you can transition from standing to on your backside without pain.
Make sure you get comfortable with that experience. You will spend alot of time on your trunk while you are learning. That's ok! You won't break your tailbone if you aren't doing something crazy. It also helps to learn to roll. Learn how to create a rounded surface with your body. The best training for this is Akita karate 
. If there is an Akita dojo in your area, take the introductory class. The first week of Akita is literally just falling, safely, continuously. Its amazing how hard you can fall on a hard surface and just roll with it. Its a life skill you'll always carry and one you may be very grateful you took the time to learn one day. When I tried Akita, I thought, "this is stupid and boring," and I stopped going after three days. Little did I know how much I actually learned. Highly recommended
I will testify that the butt pads are nice. They aren't the most comfortable things in the world but you forget they are there and your jacket will cover the lumpy rump. Its so nice to have zero pain after several fast falls over the vacation (..but I did not put my hands down). In other words, I think padded shorts will do more to save your wrists than braced gloves.
Finally, don't try to use your forearms or your elbows to skillfully distribute the impact over your arms. That's crazy talk! There is no way you can predict the surface of the hill at speed. Just learn use your momentum to deflect the impact and change it from blunt trauma to rolling and tumbling.
- Don't board if you are tired
- Learn to fall
- Practice falling/sitting without putting your hands down
- Avoid sore peaches with padded shorts