how to prevent ankle sprains when snowboardingAlthough most of us know skiing can be hazardous, it turns out that snowboarders are at even greater risk of an ankle sprain or break. Snowboard boots are much more flexible than a ski boot and that's what makes them more hazardous.

With so much good snow in the mountains this year and the huge uptick in snowboard use, more people are out their hitting the slopes in the Northwest. That makes it more likely that the number of ankle sprains and breaks will go up, particularly for those doing fancy jumps causing more pressure on landing.

What To Do If You Sprain or Break An Ankle While Snowboarding

Sprains and breaks can be just as painful. If you're out on the slopes and you've had a painful fall don't try and muscle through it; you could cause more damage which could keep you out of commission for the rest of the season.

  • Walk down the slope or have a buddy call the ski patrol to assess how to get you the medical care you need.

  • Very likely once you get some medical aid you'll be treated with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). This will help with the initial pain and swelling.

  • Try to be seen by a Seattle podiatrist as soon as possible so you can be assessed and treated.

Preventing Ankle Sprains and Breaks While Snowboarding

Boots and Socks

  • Make sure your boots fit snugly.
  • Purchase a boot that fits your snowboarding style. A soft boot will provide the highest level of maneuverability, but it also carries the highest level of risk. Stiff boots will provide the best ankle support and should be worn if you’re a racer. The middle ground is a hybrid boot, providing the best of both worlds—more flexibility and support to prevent ankle injuries.
  • Buy a boot with a lacing system that also meets you needs. Lacing systems also affect how secure your foot is in the boot. According to REI, traditional laces are inexpensive to replace but can be tough to tighten. Quick-pull laces are simple, but they can’t always be tightened as much as you’d like. The Boa system is simple and secure, but it might be too firm for racers. 
  • Wear insulated socks appropriate for temperatures. Consider having a change of socks for wet conditions. If toes or feet feel cold and/or numb, take a break and warm up.

Strength and Flexibility Training

  • Snowboarding without strength and flexibility training is just asking for trouble. The stronger you are physically and the more flexible you are the more likely your body will be able to withstand the tremendous force you’re applying to it each time you hit the slopes.
  • Check out some great tips from a website called Fitness Blender that describes and demonstrates the types of strengthening exercises that will go a long way in helping you prevent ankle and other injuries.
  • Some great overall stretches for snowboarding are on this Pro Ride Snowboard Camp website.


Without proper fuel in your tank you’re more likely to run out of gas. If you’re tired you’re also more at risk for ankle injuries because your muscles won’t be able to do their job and you won’t be able to make good decisions.

  • Eat a hearty breakfast with plenty of protein, like eggs and sausage; tofu if you're a vegetarian.
  • Carry protein bars or nuts with you.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration can also tire you. If you plan to be out most of the day, carry water with you. You might consider using a hydration pack for easy access.

More Information About How to Stop and Prevent Foot and Ankle Injuries When Snowboarding

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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