Wrist guards? Are they worth wearing? Do they help? Are they for beginners only? Read on…

Good for: lots of low impact falls. Wrist guards typically have some kind of tough, plastic splints, that protects the top and bottom of the wrist. When you put your hand(s) down in a fall, your wrists benefit from this additional support making you less likely to suffer a break, sprain or general injury.

Good for: beginners. Protecting the wrist makes the wrist guard particularly useful for beginners. That’s not to say that all snowboarders don’t occasionally fall on the hands/wrists, it’s just more common for beginners. Why? Beginners have lots of little falls. Balance-related falls. And, as a beginner, travelling slowly, it’s very tempting to put your hands out to stop yourself from hitting the ground.

Good for: all snowboarders? The most common snowboarding injury is a fractured wrist. So, beyond the beginner status, does it not make sense to continue to wear wrist guards? As you become a more proficient snowboarder it’s fair to say that you (a) start to have different falls and (b) learn not to put your hands out to stop yourself. But you can still pick up a wrist injury…

Think about: your gloves. Wrist guards can be a little bulky. The guards that I used to wear had splints on the top and bottom of the hand/wrist. Will they will fit inside your gloves? Yes – if there’s enough room. Obvious statement, I know, but it really does depend on your individual gloves. If you’ve got pipe, spring, or snug fitting gloves, they’re less likely to fit. If your gloves have one of those velcro straps at the wrist that when not fastened, leaves the glove “open”, that will probably help. Take a look at your gloves, if they’re pretty snug, wrist guards may be a squeeze to get in…

Consider: alternatives designs. There are two different options compared to under-glove wrist guards:

  • Built-in wrist guards. The wrist guard support is built into the glove. This eliminates the problem of the wrist guards fitting with your gloves. It also means that there’s only one item to put on and off, rather than separately taking off your gloves and then the guards. The downside? You’re limited in your selection of gloves; you may already own some gloves that you like.
  • Over-the-top wrist guards. These wrist guards strap around the outside of your gloves. Again, this almost eliminates the problem of the wrist guards not fitting with your gloves. It also gives you a wide range of gloves to choose from. The downside? To get your fingers out, you’ve got to take off both the guards and the gloves.

Advice: definitely good to start with, you may grow out of them. On my very first snowboarding trip, a fellow snowboarder asked our group: “are you guys wearing wrist guards?” At the time, I didn’t even know that wrist guards were available. It seemed like a good suggestion, especially as one member of our group had hurt their wrist. So I bought some in resort…

After 4 or 5 weeks on snow, I stopped wearing them. Wrist guards are one extra thing to take on and off and they don’t work well with all types of gloves; I just didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. As with other protective wear, it’s a personal choice, a calculation of how likely you think an injury is versus your desire to ride free of safety gear.

In the early stages of my snowboarding, as a fairly cheap purchase, they definitely prevented a few, potential wrist injuries. And that’s what you want, because if you get hurt it sometimes stops you from snowboarding at all.

Many snowboarders use wrist guards when they are “trying things out” – for example, attempting new tricks or learning switch. Others continue to wear them at all times. Wrist injuries suck. If you’re looking to buy some, I recommend these brands. 

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