While similar in many ways, skiing and snowboarding do have their differences. These sports variety greatly when it comes to the type of injury typically sustained by participants. Skiing requires speed, strength, balance and flexibility. Though snowboarding requires skills, the way the body moves in both sports is fundamentally different. This difference tends to result in very different injuries in each sport.
The most common injuries that take place in snowboarding (and their methods of prevention) are:
Wrist injuries are by far the most common snowboarding injuries. Slipping backwards and landing on your hands is a common occurrence, especially for those who are just learning. Hard impacts of those slips can cause sprains or even fractures. Wrist injuries tend to occur when snowboarders lose their balance, subsequently falls, and instinctively react by outstretching a hand in order to try and break the fall.
Wrist guards are the best method of injury prevention. Using wrist guards are especially important during your first week of learning to snowboard. Some glove manufacturers make gloves with integrated wrist protection. Wrist guards made for inline skating or skateboarding can also work for snowboarding and can be worn either under or above your mittens or gloves. You can buy them as separate pieces of gear or integrated into gloves or mittens.
The knees are the natural springs that absorb most of the shocks during snowboarding. However, compared to skiing, knee injuries are less common and less severe in snowboarding for several reasons. First, a snowboard only has two edges that can "catch" unexpectedly on snow as opposed to the four edges on skis. Also, snowboards tend to be shorter than skis; hence the "lever arm" of force produced by any twist is reduced. Most knee injuries in snowboarding are caused by extremely hard collisions (such as when you hit a tree) or impacts from unexpected angles or turning motions. To avoid such injuries, make sure you know your limitations. Keep in mind that as your snowboarding technique improves, your ability to absorb harder impacts will also intensify. Also, while snowboarding, make sure you keep your knees bent at all times, especially when performing jumps or tricks.
Crashes with natural objects, such as hard snow surfaces or ice, rocks and trees, or unnatural objects such as rails and boxes in Snow Parks, can cause serious head injuries. As a result, helmets are an essential component of any snowboarder's protective gear. Regardless of your abilities - whether you'll be performing freestyle tricks or not - it is essential that you wear a snowboard helmet at all times. Remember that even a low speed, back slip on the back of your head can already cause serious head injury.
Although there's little doubt about the importance of wearing a snowboard helmet, keep in mind that wearing a helmet while snowboarding does not make you invincible. There is no proof that wearing a helmet will protect you from death or serious injury if, for example, you are going at or above the speed of a normal intermediate boarder (40-60 km/h) and collide with a static object (such as a tree). If you're going to calculate the gravity of the impact, the forces involved with such a collision are way beyond the capacity of all modern helmets. Still, snowboard helmets are certainly expected to be of benefit in more minor impacts, glancing blows and other similar mishaps.
Winters is definitely the time to have fun on the snowboard, just be careful and don't injure yourself. If you find yourself in recurring pain, a physiotherapist can work wonders in helping your injuries heal.