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Snowboarding easier on knees after ACL

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Snowboarding easier on knees after ACL? I had 2 ACL tears on each knee 2 years ago.

post #2 of 18

Depends.

 

In short, the answer is "Yes. Riding is easier on the knees."

 

We see fewer ACL injuries in riders than skiers. The ones we see in riders are predominately related to jumps. No, I don't have the stats to prove these statements. In "normal" skiing (leaving bumps out of this for now) your legs get longer and shorter (i.e. your knees bend) primarily as a result of your hips moving laterally relative to your feet (i.e. crossover or cross under). In "normal" riding your knees bend as a result of the hips mostly moving fore and aft relative to your feet, although in higher end riding there is also some lateral shift of the hips (fore and aft along the length of the board). My personal experience is that riding is easier on my knees in riding even though my knees do more movement in riding than in skiing. In skiing, you want the legs to rotate underneath the hips. That rotation can be stressful to skiers with weak knees.That kind of rotation can be an element in riding but is not an essential element. Riders with weak knees report aggravation from repeated kneeling on the snow (part of getting up), especially when the snow is (cough) "firm". Beginner riders can "easily" bruise their knees when riding on their heel edge if they catch the toe side (downhill) edge (though more often the upper body gets the heavier impact). In theory, riders are not subject to the phantom foot ACL injury cause that is common for skiers because it is much harder and unnatural to get the hips below the knees to the rear of the board to generate a backward twisting fall that lets the tail of the board apply leverage against the ACL. 

 

In alpine boarding the stance angles are more forward and there is more lateral movement of the hips. In all types of boarding the variability of stance angles and stance widths can have a huge difference in knee stresses. Your mileage (level of pain) may vary.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hey Rusty, Thanks a lot for all this information! I really appreciate it

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Are you a skier or snowboarder yourself?

post #5 of 18

Yes. I do both, often on the same day.

post #6 of 18
Sorry I had to hijack this thread. I can't figure out how to start a new thread from my phone. However, my question is related.

I've talked to people who have skied and then switched to snowboarding. Most of them have told me snowboarding is easier on the knees.

I've skied for several years. I've recently picked up snowboarding. In my experience so far, snowboarding has not been any easier on the knees. I don't find skiing particularly taxing on the knees either. Both sports involve a fair amount of leg muscles (stating the obvious smile.gif ).

I'm trying to understand what people meant when they said snowboarding is easier on the knees.

Moderator note: post was moved over from another thread about switching from snowboarding to skiing
post #7 of 18

@TheRusty : could you please comment on Post #6?

post #8 of 18
Thanks marznc smile.gif
post #9 of 18
Wellllllllll,
Skier acl injuries tend to come from backward twisting falls. Snowboard acl injuries tend to come from jump landings. Although you can ride with a knee pointing technique, riding tends to involve less lateral pressure on the knees than skiing. But if your technique is efficient, you shouldn't noticeuch difference. If you have bad knees, it really depends on what the problem is. In general I do say riding is easier on the knees. But for your question, it depends is a better answer.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5ki8um View Post

Sorry I had to hijack this thread. I can't figure out how to start a new thread from my phone. However, my question is related.

I've talked to people who have skied and then switched to snowboarding. Most of them have told me snowboarding is easier on the knees.

I've skied for several years. I've recently picked up snowboarding. In my experience so far, snowboarding has not been any easier on the knees. I don't find skiing particularly taxing on the knees either. Both sports involve a fair amount of leg muscles (stating the obvious smile.gif ).

I'm trying to understand what people meant when they said snowboarding is easier on the knees.

Moderator note: post was moved over from another thread about switching from snowboarding to skiing


Now that Rusty has replied, I'll add my two cents about skiing and leg muscles.

 

I'm an older skier who popped off an ACL several years ago (not skiing).  For assorted reasons, I opted to work on being a successful coper instead of having ACL reconstruction surgery.  In my case, the ACL-deficient knee is very stable, there was no collateral damage that required medical intervention for complete healing, and there was no swelling after exercise after a few months of rehab and healing.  What I did was slowly up my skiing the first season after injury and started investing time and money in high level lessons.  I was an upper intermediate or low advanced skier with an interest in exploring more ungroomed terrain out west when I started taking lessons more regularly.  I also started doing more year round ski conditioning.  What I learned from PSIA Level 3 instructors (at Massanutten and out west) is that with better technique, good core strength, and good 1-leg balance, it's quite possible to ski all day at a big mountain and not have sore leg muscles.  Last season I skied 18 out of 19 days at Alta during late season, including a few powder days and two semi-private lessons with my ski buddy.  I've become a Level 8 (of 9) skier.  Had a very good time on terrain that five years ago I didn't think I would ever be comfortable skiing.

post #11 of 18

Typically riding is easier on knees but harder on the upper body. (wrist/shoulders/etc.)

 

Has to due with position but also the torque/levers applied on skis (e.g. long lever that torques in a direction that rotates tibia = bad news for ACL), riding has a much shorter lever and one that is not directly in line with tibial rotation.  Just physics.  In addition the loading on the knee when carving is easier on the knees when riding than skiing.  The knee is weakest as a joint (most susceptible to injury) in a flexed position, skiing requires you to load up that downhill ski in a flexed position....any deviation in snow surface or bump must be absorbed in the knee under load in that position.  Think how much work torque (even if not injury inducing) the knee must absorb if you get some tip chatter or wiggle when carving).  With riding this chatter can occur as well but it results in a more vertical absorption vs. rotational one at the knee joint (which has less strain on the knee).

 

From a standpoint of soreness in the knees, patella issues, etc. both can cause them.  But in terms of which is more strenuous on the knee or which increases the risk of major knee injury, that would be skiing.

post #12 of 18

Thanks for the replies, TheRusty and marznc. That's quite a story, marznc. I learnt to ski in my adult life and mostly skied with family. I've had two major ski accidents in the past. Each required meniscus surgery. First the left then the right. Now the kids are older and I'm getting more and more into skiing bumps and glades. Fortunately, knees haven't been an issue. However, I do feel that eventually I might have to give it all up and settle for a few blue runs on a snowboard as I grow older.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5ki8um View Post
 

Thanks for the replies, TheRusty and marznc. That's quite a story, marznc. I learnt to ski in my adult life and mostly skied with family. I've had two major ski accidents in the past. Each required meniscus surgery. First the left then the right. Now the kids are older and I'm getting more and more into skiing bumps and glades. Fortunately, knees haven't been an issue. However, I do feel that eventually I might have to give it all up and settle for a few blue runs on a snowboard as I grow older.


Older?  I'm turning 60 this year.  There are far more advanced skiers over 50 having a very good time without an ACL than you might imagine.  I did a lot of research before deciding that there wasn't a reason to slow down just yet.

 

My ski buddy scrambled his meniscus in high school.  Was an advanced skier then.  He's in his 60s.  When I started skiing with him out west several years ago, he would be ready to stop by 2:30 or 3:00 even when we spent most of the day on groomers or very easy ungroomed terrain.  We met at a school alumni event at Alta Lodge in 2008.  He hadn't taken a lesson since middle school.  By last season I'd improved enough to be at a comparable level.  Asked him to do a semi-private lesson with me at Alta.  I'll spare the details but the bottom line is that we did four 2-hour lessons at Alta last season (two different trips, 2 different instructors) plus another in late Jan this season, all with Level 3 instructors with 20+ years of experience.  He is skiing harder terrain than before with less effort now that he understands how to make use of the design of his skis.

post #14 of 18
Thanks marznc, I guess there's still hope for me smile.gif
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5ki8um View Post

Thanks marznc, I guess there's still hope for me smile.gif


If you want to see some exercises I've found useful for ski conditioning, I put the best ones in a blog.  Combined with high level lessons from very experienced instructors, you can keep having fun sliding on snow for a while yet.

 

http://over50skifitness.blogspot.com

post #16 of 18
I've skied and snowboarded. The one thing on snowboarding that is murder in the knees is the lift. Everything else I find similar (except backwards twisting fall and then skis suck).
post #17 of 18

I tore the right ACL in a skydiving competition in 1969 and the left one during a ski race in 2010.  I've had three additional "tune ups" on the knees and I get Hyaluronic shots every six months to combat the arthritis.   I've split my time 50/50 sking and boarding for the past 19 years and can say that my knees take less of a beating when boarding than when skiing.  My suspicion is that since both feet are planted on a single platform with the board, I don't have to deal with separation of the knees as happens on skis.  That seems to put less stress on them.  The vast majority of my time on a board is on alpine boards with hardboots and angles more favorable for racing but I do occasionally hop on a softboot board and the experience outlined above holds true.

post #18 of 18

Awesome info. Thanks everyone.. Good read. My roommate wanted to try snowboarding this year.. took him out Feb 5th and he only went on the lift 2 times and said he was done. He was afraid of tearing his ACL again since he did that via karate as a young kid.. lol. I haven't found too many issues personally, but this is only my 2nd year riding. I have a horrible back, but have been getting cortisone shots in my lower back with my herniated discs and has helped tremendously.. But, I have hurt my shoulder hands down a few times riding and my wrist/hand area.. Just gotta be careful and wrap your hands up which they have some things out there (I've never used them yet) or just be super mindful of getting off the lift.. But the knees until you can stand up well enough to get off the lift can be pretty painful. I have some awesome pics to prove that from Utah a few weeks ago with black, blue, and purple bruises on both knees ;) 

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