“How to beat aches and pains if you love snowboarding and are over the age of 40”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
I love to snowboard! I didn’t start until about 43 years ago when I turned 50.
Mid-life crisis. My wife wouldn’t let me have a mistress and I couldn’t afford a Porsche. But snowboarding really allowed me to become young again. But it was painful to learn. Still is... although not as much. I’m a doctor. A rheumatologist. Somebody who deals with aches and pains so I want to give you the lowdown on how to beat those aches and pains.
Neck pain can be due to strain or sprain. Strain occurs when ligaments, tendons, or muscles get stretched. This causes pain, aching and can occur after a long day of being out on the slopes. A fall or trying to get a better look at the blonde in the form fitting ski suit can also lead to neck strain. When you snowboard- even if you wear a helmet- and you should- the falls really do a number on your neck!
Sprain occurs when the muscles or ligaments actually tear. Blood and inflammatory chemicals (called cytokines) pour into the area and swelling, pain, and severe spasm result. This can occur if you don’t make your heel side turn and wipe out… or you don’t see the right cross coming from your wife.
For both strain and sprain, use ice packs. Keep a towel between the ice pack and your skin to protect your skin from injury. Over the counter anti-inflammatory agents can help.
Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are always a good idea both before and after you snowboard.
Low back pain can occur as a result of the same types of activities. A long day of snowboarding can lead to back strain. This is particularly true if you’re an aggressive rider and do bumps. Sitting for a long time at the bar afterwards can lead to low back strain as can lifting improperly when you stow your gear. Lift with your legs. Keep your back straight. Keep your head up. If necessary, go down on one knee to lift. Keep the object you’re lifting close to your body. Always test the object before you lift it to make sure you can lift it.
Before you go out, work on stretching and strengthening. If you are unfortunate enough to injure your back, go at complete bed rest for at least a day with an ice pack. Gentle stretching exercises may help. See a physical therapist or a chiropractor. If you don’t get better soon, see your physician.
Shoulder problems are also very common with riding. Anytime you lift, haul your gear or fall, you are setting yourself up for shoulder problems. Especially valid if you fall! This is especially true if you use your arms in a position that is higher than your head. Rotator cuff strain can be a result. Make sure you do shoulder stretching before and after you ride. If you develop shoulder pain, apply ice and use OTC anti-inflammatory agents.
Elbow pain results from any repetitive activity. The most common is lateral epicondylitis. This is a form of tendonitis and affects the outside part of the elbow. If you know you’re going to be doing repetitive motion with the arms, make sure you stretch before and after. Ice your elbow down afterwards. If the elbow continues to bother you, you need to see your rheumatologist or orthopedist.A platelet-rich plasma (PRP)injection is what you really need. Don't get cortisone which weakens tendon tissue.
Wrist and hand problems can also occur any time you are using them for repetitive activity. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a particularly common problem. This occurs when the median nerve into the hand is pinched. Symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling can result. Treatment involves splinting, physical therapy, and injection with steroids. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Stretch (is this a recurrent theme or what?) before and after you snowboard. Always use wrist-guards. Use ice on your hands and wrists afterwards.
Tendonitis can be a problem in the hands. Trigger finger… a sticking of the fingers can occur commonly. Sometimes the finger won’t bend… and other times it’ll bend but won’t straighten! Trigger finger is treated with injection.
Hip pain can occur when you fall… especially when you fall on your butt In fact there’s a name for it. It’s called “black-butt” and refers to the huge bruise you get on your butt- usually the front foot butt when you fall while riding. Pretty nasty. Use butt pads when you ride. (If you need to find one, contact me. I’ve just developed one that works great!) And ice your butt down after you fall. Stretching before and after is a good idea.
Knee pain can result also if you either bang your knee or spend too much time kneeling. Riding rough terrain and doing bumps are particularly bad on the knees. For heaven’s sake, if you’re tired, stop. Contusions (a type of strain) and bursitis can also be a consequence. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful.
Foot and ankle pain is usually due to poor fitting boots. Go to a pro to get your boots. If you rent make sure they fit. A miserable day out on the slopes is the consequence otherwise. In addition to blisters, you can get tendonitis, bursitis, and a lousy attitude.
Key points: Riding is not for sissies. Make sure you stretch and take care of those joints!
If your aches and pains don’t leave within a few days, you may have arthritis.
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