Do Snowboard Wrist Guards Just Move the Break to Your Forearm?

Originally Published: November 30, 2018, Last Updated: January 05, 2021

Do Snowboard Wrist Guards Just Move the Break to Your Forearm?

When we recommend snowboarders wear good quality wrist protection, I hear a specific argument in response quite often:

"If you wear wrist guards, you're only moving the break from your wrist to your forearm!"

Do you think this might be true? Are there any solid facts or studies to either prove or disprove this argument?

Well, yes, there are several high quality studies that dug into this very specific issue in some detail. And the results are pretty clear - the use of high quality snowboard wrist guards do NOT result in an increase in upper extremity injuires.

Just the facts about snowboard wrist guards and forearm injuries

Before deciding whether to wear snowboard wrist guards or not, take a look at the two studies below. Each tackled the specific question of whether wearing snowboard wrist guards has any effect on forearm or upper extremity injuries:

Granted, both of these studies are relatively old. But you can see that this issue has been top of mind since the beginning of snowboarding. And, when well designed studies looked at the issue, they found no evidence to suggest the concern is legitimate. 

i.e., this concern has been disproven for nearly 20 years. 

O.K., you say. But those are academic studies performed in the ivory tower. What about in the real world?

What do experienced medical professionals think?

Although I trust well designed studies, I also want to hear from medical professionals. These are the Doctors on the front lines, in the resort towns, dealing with Emergency Room patients every day. These men and women see nasty ski and snowboard injuries all the time. What do they think?

"Unfortunately, wrist guards are not used as commonly, but they are essential in preventing wrist injuries. The wrist injuries I see most commonly are sprains and fractures. Wrist guards have definitely been shown to decrease the severity of injury and even prevent less serious injuries from occurring. This has been proven in the laboratory and on the hill."

and,

"Sometimes I hear people give the excuse that “I hear wrist guards just make you break your arm above the guard.” That is a common myth that has never been shown to be true in studies. Many orthopedic surgeons feel that in the unlikely event that a person does sustain a fracture above the wrist guards, that if they did not have them on, they would have suffered a more severe wrist fracture instead."

"Almost every day in the winter months we see the broken wrists of snowboarders, usually young males, first time, no lessons, no guards, no helmets, no fear."

and,

According to Dr. Talsania, wrist guards work. Some boarders ask if the force of a fall is just transmitted upwards. "In a quality product, the guard dissipates energy throughout the device without increasing force in any one spot."

What does that mean for you?

If you're guilty of using the "it'll move the break up the arm" argument, it's time to move on. There are specific studies that disprove the notion. Experienced medical professionals concur.

I'm sorry, but the matter is settled.

If you are concerned about wearing snowboard wrist guards, the summary situation is:

  • Wrist injuries are the most frequent snowboard injury
  • Wrist injuries are preventable
  • Wearing snowboard wrist guards is proven to reduce snowboard wrist injuries
  • Choose wrist guards that are high quality and designed to dissipate impact forces
  • Snowboard wrist guards don't have to be bulky or uncomfortable
  • Outfit yourself with high quality wrist protection now, before you get hurt

How to Outfit Yourself before you get hurt

 

Shop Level Snowboard Gloves




3 Responses

Jim B (Staff)
Jim B (Staff)

January 05, 2021

Elana – so sorry to hear about your broken wrist! We hear similar stories often, where someone who normally wears wrist guards forgets them and that is the day they take a nasty spill. For me, it feels like driving in a car with no seat belt on. It just feels weird. Wearing snowboard gloves with wrist guards integrated into the gloves, like Level or Burton or Seirus, makes wearing protection “automatic.”

Elena castor
Elena castor

January 05, 2021

I have worn wrist guards for over 20 years, from my beginner level to my intermediate, and even on my worst falls on my wrist I would be sore at the most but never injured myself w/ a broken arm or wrist! However The only time I did break my wrist was the day I decided not to wear them, was the last run of the day and I hit the hard packed skier bumps against my own judgement! So…Wrist guards DO prevent wrist injuries! I will never go without

Kemper Snowboards
Kemper Snowboards

October 08, 2020

My own experience and that of colleagues in the major ski centres throughout the world is that the right kind of wrist guard does effectively reduce the risk of wrist injury. Of course, no guard can ever offer 100% protection, but their benefits far, far outweigh any potentially risks of using them.

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