Am I a nutcase??

Dealing with aches and pains--and better yet, avoiding them--and fitness related to snowboarding. This is also the place to talk about helmets, safety pads, and goggles.

Am I a nutcase??

Postby soniccyclist » Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:45 pm

I am 57 year old female. I bicycle frequently, so I am pretty fit for my age. I live in the south so don't get much snow action here. I usually make a couple of trips to the west each year for skiing and attempting snowboarding. I want to learn to snowboard and can't get over it. I have broken my wrist trying to teach myself a few years ago. 2 years later , I took a lesson and wore wrist guards and broke the other wrist. It has been about 3 years since then. I signed up for a trip to Steamboat at the beginning of Dec. with our club for a race/lessons camp. No racing for me, but I will have a week long lesson in snowboarding. I really want to do this , but I get this nagging thought that my body might be too old. My main concern is my wrists. My hips are okay from looking at my last bone scan. Does anyone have any helpful hints for me and how I might try and protect my wrists and other parts?

Thanks
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Postby bernwern » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:05 pm

One of the most important things you can learn in snowboarding is how to fall....because you WILL fall.

But how does one learn this? I started when i was 12 years old, and that made things a bit easier as I rebounded from minor injuries much faster....like hitting a tree at 20mph, or face-planting when attempting front flips. But with experience, and skateboarding in the summertime, I managed to learn how to minimize the damage. Overall, I think trial-and-error is how you learn it the best. However, you can consciously think about an impact and how to minimize damage....the problem arises with how quickly you can react :)

Study some parkour videos on youtube. Parkour, or urban gymnastics, uses every inch of the human body to perform insane stunts. Tucking and rolling upon impact, rather than straight up absorbing impact from falls. The same applies to snowboarding....you can roll into the fall and spread the impact, thus lessening the overall impact force. The nice thing about snowboarding is that gravity helps on falls due to the natural slope of the hill, allowing some of the force to transfer into lateral movement when you slide. Also, snow can cushion you fall considerably.

I would suggest NOT using your hands so much to catch you. Using your hands alot might imply you fell off-balance on the board, but this is my assumption based upon the limited description you gave. With experience, you will fall less....I barely use my hands, but focus more on my arms and shifting weight to recover balance and not fall.

Lastly, you can get gloves with built-in wrist-guards. Burton and Dakine made some the last few years for sure. These might assist just in case you do take a tumble.

Hope this helps some at least...and don't give up! Injuries come and go, but the memories you make riding more than make up for short-term pain :) After 17 years of riding, I have a chipped tooth, chipped patella, dislocated shoulder, sprained ankle twice, a fractured hip (from hitting a tree), and last season I sprained my back across 8 vertebrae and broke a rib (my first broken bone of my life). And yes, all of it was worth it and I still can't wait to go this season!

Best of luck, and hope others have some good advice as well.

-B
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Postby bernwern » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:07 pm

Sorry...forgot one other piece of advice: STRETCH! Stretching is crucial for riding. I am sure your legs will be in good shape from biking, so cramping shouldn't impact you too badly. I aways start by stretching.

-B
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Postby welshscarry » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:00 pm

Helpful hints? Welcome to old lady snowboarding. HA! I'm 49 and just learned two years ago, so go for it!!

This sounds stupid, but don't stick out your arm or hand.
I know, hard to do! :D

The idea is to "roll" with the fall. Think or it as hugging yourself.
Better to fall on hip, side, shoulder, than to fall on a arm or hand.
You have to sort of practice this......most good instructors will cover this somewhat in group lessons.

<In the E.R., out here in Colo. in the winter, this injury is shorthanded as a FOOSH (Fall Onto Outstretched Hand)>

Take group lessons for 2 or 3 days. That's the quickest way to learn in my opinion. If you can swing it, buy some impact shorts.
One brand is called Red. This will really save your butt bone. I wish I would have had a pair!!
They look sort of like bike shorts.

Lastly, do your own thing when you go with a group from your town.
In other words, don't let them take you out to a blue or green run until you are fully confident in your abilities. That can be extremely miserable.
HAVE FUN!
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Postby welshscarry » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry, don't forget the wrist guards, and the helmet.
Critical for a newbie and us two year newbies also
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Postby John » Tue Oct 16, 2007 4:43 pm

Are you a nut case? I don't think so. Then again, I'm biased--I've spent hours working on this site, for little financial gain!

Seriously, I think some amount of "crazy" dedication is required. I tend to think that I was maniacal when I started. You simply have to say "I will not quit." It can be a tough start, but once you get over that initial hump, it's a beautiful thing.

Just use some common sense. Push yourself, but not too far at any given time. Take some lessons if you haven't in a while.
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Thanks

Postby soniccyclist » Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:42 am

Thanks for all the replies! I really enjoy and appreciate all the information. By the way... the trip that I am taking in Dec. is five days of snowboard lessons. We spend the whole time with an instructor or until you get sick of them and want to be on your own.
I better look around and see if I can find some of those padded pants!
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Postby John » Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:43 am

You could get padded pants. Or wear padded shorts underneath regular snow pants. Either way, you'll get not only some protection from the inevitable falls, but it may make your ride up the lift more comfortable, shielding you from the cold, damp surface that you sometimes find on lift chairs.
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Postby SteveH » Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:11 pm

Going to Steamboat is a good start. Tons of fresh powder tends to make the snow softer, even on the groomers.

The advice to not use your hands is good, but very hard to do. With hard falls (especially the downhill edge catch), it happens so quickly there is no time to think about it. Your body does whatever you've trained it to do when the "I'm falling" message comes in.

What to do? Some strength and flexibility training is a great help. How do college and pro football players get slammed to the turf and bounce right up? Their musculature is so well developed that it can support the skeleton against huge forces. Pushups, bench press, row, pullups and dips all isolate the vulnerable upper body areas.

Retraining through practice probably works the best. Get on a mat and practice falling forward and backward. When you feel the fall coming, relax and get low by dropping at the knees and hips. This does two things: 1) you literally have a shorter distance to fall, but more importantly you tend to curl up like a ball intead of standing tall like a tree. Think of how tree hits when chopped off at the base, versus a big ball rolling down the hill. It ain't the fall that gets you, it's the stop. Make the stop as gradual as possible.

Practice also helps to create the relaxation response. It's "bend but don't break", like a dry stick versus a green branch. Going down loose instead of stiff let's your body absorb much more energy without injury.

If you have the time and interest, try a martial arts class that stresses good falling technique like judo, or especially aikido. A portion of every class is usually devoted to rolling out of falls so that it becomes second nature.

As referenced above, the easiest fix is to pad up. I use pads on knees, elbows and a butt pad with a hard plate over the coccyx as well as wrist guards. Helmet is a no brainer (pardon the pun). Another option is the TekVest that gives chest and back protection.

Steve
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Postby Kecht06 » Wed Oct 24, 2007 11:24 pm

I read through these and they were all great replies, but what I didn't see is while you're learning, keep your fists closed. They don't have to cause cramps, however, It's usually the hand bending backwards that creates the problem. It's a lot harder for that to happen with your hand closes.

I do this when I fall even today. It's instinct now just to close them, but when your learning and "thinking you're nuts" you have a lot more going on then having time to remember, so just learn while your making a fist, and your wrists will love you for it.

By the way, you're not nuts, you're living life the way it's meant to be lived.
And Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
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Postby Mouse » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:24 pm

Crazy? On this website, you are normal. The note about clenched fists is great advise. I somehow stuck my thumb in the snow and the rest of the story was not pleasant. But hands and fingers are not needed in snowboarding so it is ok to keep them out of the action. I have also found that if I fight the fall, it is always bad. So I spread out on the snow and enjoy the ride (horizontal as it is).

Remeber, life and living is not about falling down, it is about getting up. Persistance and patience are virtues that will get you riding and having so much fun everyone else will be envious.

Best wishes.

Mouse
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Postby John » Sun Oct 28, 2007 8:32 pm

Mouse wrote:Crazy? On this website, you are normal. The note about clenched fists is great advise. I somehow stuck my thumb in the snow and the rest of the story was not pleasant. But hands and fingers are not needed in snowboarding so it is ok to keep them out of the action. I have also found that if I fight the fall, it is always bad. So I spread out on the snow and enjoy the ride (horizontal as it is).

Remember, life and living is not about falling down, it is about getting up. Persistance and patience are virtues that will get you riding and having so much fun everyone else will be envious.

Best wishes.

Mouse
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Postby Snowride » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:11 pm

So more than half a year has gone by since this last posting. I am wondering if you ever went to the 5-day snowboard clinic and what happened. I'm sure the members who posted here are eager to hear about your first snowboarding experience!!! How did it go?
I'm into PRIVATE lessons if you can afford it. At our age, we need individual attention, not to be put in a group with other perhaps younger students with different needs than us. That's my opinion.
Hope you had a great time, and hope you'll post a report for us!
I'm a snowboarding grandma approaching 60. Got a place at Bear Valley California and would love to hang with others like me.
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