BOULDER, Colo. — Snowboarders are significantly more prone to injuries to the knee in their leading leg than their trailing leg, according to data presented at the International Extreme Sports Medicine Annual Congress.
“The rate of injury in snowboarding is up to double that of skiing…the problem is that we’re seeing more and more knee injuries, we’re losing more time because of knee injuries, and regardless of stance, it seems to involve the leading leg,” said Tom Hackett, MD, in his presentation.
According to an Australian study presented by Hackett, 91% of knee injuries occur in the lead leg. He also cited his own experience as chief physician for the U.S. Olympic Snowboarding Team in stating the majority of knee injuries he sees in elite snowboarders occur in the lead leg whether the boarding is riding regular stance (left foot forward landing) or switch (right foot forward landing).
“So the question is how can we determine the injury mechanism and minimize the chance of injuries?” With the help of motion capturing equipment, Hackett and colleagues set out to determine the injury mechanism causing these knee injuries in the lead leg. In this study, known as the Vail Snowboarding Initiative, angles and strains impacting both knees of healthy snowboarders during the course of both standard jump and half pipe snowboarding were analyzed.
Flexion angles of the leading leg were smaller than the trailing leg and thus at a more at-risk position for ACL injuries. Internal rotation and extension of the leading leg were also both significantly different from the trailing leg. As a result of these findings, braces, changing foot position, or strengthening muscles that resist internal rotation are possible means to reducing these injuries in snowboarders.
Customized foot plates are currently being constructed so forces exerted on both knees can be evaluated as well. “Knowledge gained from this work…will lead to prevention strategies that range from training programs to performance enhancement,” Hackett said.—by Christian Ingram
Hackett T. Motion Analysis on Snow: Knee kinematics in the half pipe. Presented at: International Extreme Sports Medicine Annual Congress; June 13-14, 2014; Boulder, Colo.
Disclosure: Hackett has no relevant financial disclosures