Snowboarding Checklist for Pain-Free Ankles
When it comes to winter sports, snowboarding is considered one of the most fun, adventurous and athletic options. However, it can also be a high-risk activity for ankle injuries.
It may be a surprise some snowboarders that ankle pain and injury can occur simply from being in snowboard boots due to the pressure on the ankles just as they can happen during snowboarding activity itself. Even sitting in the chairlift and feeling the pull from the weight of the board on the ankle can create pain for some people.
Follow this snowboarding checklist for pain-free ankles to prevent ankle pain so you can have a more enjoyable experience on the slopes:
- Check your bindings before heading out. Some bindings have a more aggressive lean, are more flexible or have a higher back and while everyone has their own preferences, be sure that you are considering ankle comfort. Try adjusting the placement and angle to see if that prevents friction, pressure or too much mobility. Testing out a variety of bindings when shopping for your board is an important part of selecting the perfect one for you.
- Correct form, particularly lower body form, is very important. Check to see if your knees are too close or too far apart, if they go over the ankles, as well as how your pelvis tilts when switching sides. It could be that a simple form adjustment alleviates pressure on the ankles and reduces pain as a result. Hire a coach if you’re not sure what your form looks like, and they can observe you in action and offer suggestions.
- Be aware of pronation. If your ankles tend to roll inward, there is a large amount of pressure placed on the ankles and the inside of the foot. Over time, this creates a serious imbalance in the ankle joint and can cause chronic pain. Placing orthotics in your boots can create more support on the inside of the foot and keep your ankles from rolling inward.
- Be sure to warm up. Whether you are trying to prevent re-injuring a healed ankle or simply trying to prevent one from occurring, it is critical to properly warm up before starting up the slopes. Start with toe curls and calf raises, and then draw the ABC’s with your ankles. Make sure your legs and ankles are nice and warm before putting your feet in your boots.
- Watch that chairlift time. Gravity pulls that heavy snowboard downs while you’re riding up the mountain. Many people don’t realize that even in this inactive state a strain can occur. Soreness could also be a result of not supporting the board while on the lift. Simply place the free foot under the board and locked in foot to keep the weight off the foot that is still in the binding.
- Consider additional support. If you have weak ankles, wearing a support is a perfectly acceptable precaution to take to prevent an injury. Compression support is a great option that allows for stabilizing the joint and keeping it warm, without too much bulk, still allowing you to wear snowboard boots and bindings.
Some residual soreness after a day of snowboarding is possible and not necessarily cause for concern. It should reside in a day or two. If you are experiencing pain after a couple of days, there may be a more significant injury that needs to be assessed. Avoid ignoring these symptoms, as you could end up benched for a longer amount of time if an injury is exacerbated by continuing to snowboard on a bad ankle.
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