knee injury

Can snowboards trigger knee pain?

Fact Checked

Snowboarding has its own share of drawbacks which includes knee pain. Always bear in mind that winter sports have its share of injuries especially among beginners and those who push beyond their limits. Even though wrist injuries are quite common, the knees are also at risk while playing the sport.

It is surprising to note that even getting on or off a chair lift puts the knees at risk. Even overuse can also strain on the tendons while jumping, performing tricks and collisions which can tear or stretch the vital ligaments in the joint that results to knee pain.

How the knee joint works

It is vital that you understand how the knee joint works such as its range of motion for prevention and recovery from injuries. The joint is comprised of 4 bones and a complex network of ligaments, tendons and muscles that flex and extend the leg.

The cartilage pads in between the lower legs called as meniscus enables the bones to glide smoothly. It is important to note that the muscles in the upper and lower legs including the hamstrings, quadriceps and calves provide movement and mainly contributes to the overall strength of the joint.

Knee pain
Even though wrist injuries are quite common, the knees are also at risk while playing the sport.

There also various ligaments that supports the bone in place while the tendons attach the muscles to the bones. Damage to any region of the joint can trigger knee pain and cause diminished range of motion.

Using the chair lift

The only time when both feet are not attached to a snowboard is while getting on or off the chair lift.  During this period, the knees are at risk for injury. With one foot out of its binding, the board moves awkwardly and the twisting force is applied to the knee joint.

Due to the size and weight of the board, the force applied to the lower leg is significant. In case the individual fell during entry or exit on the chair lift or if the board twisted abruptly, the individual might have damaged a tendon or ligament in the knee.

Overuse injuries

While gliding down a slope, the feet are firmly attached on the snowboard. The knees are usually bent to help absorb shock as well as promote movement of the lower legs. Once the knees are bent, increased strain is placed on the quadriceps which attach to the knee joint via the quadriceps tendon.

If these are overused, it results to inflammation that eventually causes knee pain. In the same way, other movements performed during the sport especially those who have out of shape muscles can strain on the knee tendons. In addition, performing sport-specific exercises and stretching routines can help prevent overuse injuries.

Ligament injuries

Even though not common in snowboarding, ligament tears and ruptures can occur while snowboarding. A strain on the medial collateral ligament is one of the common knee injuries which occur when the knee is twisted.

The individual can experience knee pain when the joint is bent and the shin moves outwards. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament can also occur. Take note that this ligament is responsible for preventing excessive rotation of the joint and forward movement of the shin bone. Damage to these ligaments is likely to occur during stunts where the individual is required to land a jump or trick.


It is vital to maintain adequate flexibility and strength in the leg muscles to prevent overuse injuries. The individual should be careful when getting on and off the chair lift to avoid excessive twisting of the joint.

Whether the individual performs tricks or simply strapping a board on the feet for the first time, it is essential to learn the correct technique from an instructor.

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