How-To Pick Spine Protection for Snowboarding
Snowboarding probably stands as the most thrilling and taxing of the winter sports. Shredding the slopes takes a toll on your body and one of the most common areas of injury is your back, which is also the one you want to protect the most There is usually no coming back from a major spine injury unfortunately. Thankfully, there are a variety of options for protecting your precious dorsal parts.
Step 1: Hard Shell or Soft Shell?
First, you will have to decide if you want a hard shell or a soft shell. Soft shells are particularly advantageous for preventing injury from impact, particularly with objects, like rocks, trees or rails, and they provide some bend resistance. If you are more concerned with bending too far back in a wipeout or twisting in a strange way, a hard shell will prevent this while providing solid impact resistance, similar to a helmet, but for your back.
Step 2: Style of Protection
Next, you must decide whether you want a strap-on backpack-like guard or shirt- or vest-style protection. The latter can provide a great base layer, but can also be more bulky and doesn’t work well if you already have a base layer you prefer. A ‘turtle-type’ hard shell can range from low-profile to not-so-low-profile, depending on how much you want to throw down. This type also comes in soft shell, with either simple padding or VPD, which stands at the forefront of protective technology, only hardening on impact.
Additionally, some spine protectors offer tailbone and cervical spine add-ons. While this added protection is invaluable, there is little clear evidence that these optional parts provide any real protection to your neck and butt, so an additional protective short (with tailbone padding) is also recommended, since most back injuries result from compression of the spine from falling on your rear.
Step 3: Research
Start with brands like POC, Demon United, Dainese, Forcefield, Bern Unlimited, Salomon, and Slytech. They all offer high-quality spine guards in a range of styles. For more information, check out this comprehensive guide for selecting your spine protection. Whatever style protection you select, make sure you can touch your toes easily and turn your torso enough to complete your turns. Keep in mind that VPD takes a little while to warm and soften, so wear it for a bit before you test out its flexibility.
Step 4: How to Fall
In addition to selecting proper back protection, it is also important to learn how to fall properly while snowboarding to further prevent injury. And, if you do hurt your back, get off the snow and take plenty of time to rest and recuperate before throwing yourself back down the mountain.
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