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Tendon Damage From Snowboarding Accident: A Case Study

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 21 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Ankle Injuries Snowboarding Skiing

Ankle injuries are common in many sports and snowboarders are in no way immune. In fact, snowboarders in general, and beginners in particular, tend to pick up more of these injuries than skiers because of the boots they wear.

More experienced boarders will often choose hard shell boots – similar to ski boots – and these offer a good deal of protection to the ankle. But beginners tend to use soft boots, which allow some degree of ankle movement and so help the rider manoeuvre the board. Unfortunately, soft boots do not give the same level of protection to the ankle, as Amy Kendrick found out.

“I started skiing when I was just six or seven years old, so I’m quite an experienced skier,” said Amy, a 24-year-old public relations executive from York. “Although I love skiing, I was drawn to snowboarding and wanted to give it a go.”

Falling on My Backside

“Other skiers I know had already tried snowboarding and loved it. In my opinion, it’s much easier for an experienced skier to learn how to snowboard than it is for a complete novice, because the sports have obvious similarities and a decent skier will already have a really good sense of balance. Nevertheless, I spent an awful lot of time on my backside at first!”

“Before too long I had mastered the basics and felt ready for more of a challenge. In hindsight, I probably did try to progress too quickly. I’ve always liked pushing myself to the limit and maybe this time I went a bit over the edge. I had a bad fall going over a jump and straight away felt a very sharp pain in my ankle.”

“The intense pain eased quite quickly, but I was left with a throbbing ache in the back of my lower leg. I knew immediately that I had an Achilles tendon injury. It’s not something I’d suffered with before, but I play a number of different sports and quite a few of my friends have had sore ankles at various times.”

The RICE rule

“I thought I knew what to do about it too. I’d heard about the RICE rule – rest, ice, compression and elevation – and that’s what I did. I got ice on the ankle, put on a tubular bandage and rested with my feet up. What I found, though, is that a little information can be a dangerous thing. After a few weeks, I felt fine and thought my ankle had healed. It hadn’t healed, of course, and I injured the same ankle again just a couple of months later.”

“I wasn’t snowboarding this time – the injury came playing tennis. The second time around I didn’t leave anything to chance and went to see a doctor. I was sure I had Achilles tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, but it turns out I had ruptured my Achilles tendon. It was a partial tear and there was a chance I would need surgery. In the end that wasn’t necessary, although I did use a brace and had to fight my urge to return to playing sports for almost three months.”

“I’ve given up snowboarding. It is fun, but skiing is just as much fun and, in my experience, is a lot safer. A very close friend of mine broke her wrist snowboarding while I was still in my brace, and that made my mind up for me. As for what I’ve learned from the experience, it’s simply that anyone who hurts an ankle should get it checked out by a doctor, because it’s better being safe than sorry.”

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