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  • Writer's pictureMSK Doctors

Snowports Injuries of the Upper Limb

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Upper limb injuries account for around a third of injuries in skiers and almost 50% in snowboarders. Although falls are difficult to predict, here is some advice on possible ways to reduce the risk of sustaining a snow sport related injury.


Most shoulder injuries occur during a fall. Common injuries include shoulder dislocations, rotator cuff injuries, fractures and injuries to the collar bone. Correct pole planting training may help reduce shoulder injury by encouraging the avoidance of heavy and prolonged pole planting which may result in forced rotation of the shoulder as the relatively fixed arm is ‘left behind’ as the body continues to move downhill.

Shoulder stability exercises may help to improve muscle coordination and correct posture. Warming up before skiing or snowboarding makes muscles and tendons less prone to injury.


Due to the repetitive stress from poling, skiers can develop overuse injuries of both the elbow and/or the shoulder. The most common of these are medial epicondylitis (golfers’ elbow).

Golfers Elbow is an irritation of the tendon of the wrist flexors and presents as pain on the inside of the elbow. This irritation is caused by repetitive stress to the tendon mainly from poor poling technique, but also from underlying weakness of the wrist flexor muscles. Prevention of this can be achieved through working on your poling technique and ensuring you have proper forearm strength.


Very common snowsports injuries include wrist fracture, dislocation, or ligament injury when a skier falls and puts their hands out to protect themselves. Even though it is a natural instinct, this can put a large amount of stress on your wrists and hands. It is recommended that you see a hand and wrist specialist for any injuries resulting from a fall. In terms of prevention, medical studies have shown that using wrist guards can effectively decrease the likelihood of wrist injuries when enjoying wintersports.

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