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Old 12-13-2010   #1
spartankayaker's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 70
Adding a snowboard to the quiver

Hey all... I wanted to get some feedback on adding a snowboard to my quiver of winter tools.

Here's the story... been skiing about 25 years now and sustained a nasty ACL destruction about 20 years ago. Skiing since then has been fine, mainly cause I keep in pretty good shape and have kept my leg muscles as strong as I can. That said, I've noticed the last couple years that my knees are not taking to the less than optimal conditions we get in the PacNW as well as they used to.

So, what I'm wondering is how much of an impact does snowboarding have on your knees and how easy is it to make the transition? I've always wanted to try, but never seem to get around to it during the season. I'm on skis 1-3 times per week, depending on my work schedule, so I've got the time to devote to learning.



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Old 12-13-2010   #2
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 61
Snowboarding is way easier on the knees but harder on wrists while learning. Pick a soft day with a small amount of powder and dont go too steep while getting the hang of connecting turns. In deep powder once you get the hang of it you will be glad you did...

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Old 12-13-2010   #3
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BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
There is less torsional strain on your knees on a snowboard, but there can be significant lateral strain. If you are over the tail of the board landing a drop or just taking a big bump hit you will feel it. I think tele is the most accepted knee friendly way to get down the hill, because there is virtually no strain on your knees beyond kneeling. Tele can't put pressure on your knees to force them out of alignment causing further injury.
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Old 12-13-2010   #4
mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: '92
Join Date: Mar 2008
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No matter what I'm on, I always wear my kneepads. It may be psychosematic, but they seem to keep my knees warmer and more plyable. Give it a try.
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Old 12-13-2010   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,012
I abused by knees alpine skiing for many years. When I picked up snow boarding it hurt my knee to have a snowboard hanging from one foot on the lift rides up. I solved that problem with K2 clicker bindings so I could clip in on the lift and have the board hang from both feet. But it's kind of akward with other people on the lift with you. Other than than, snowboarding never gave me problems with my knees, but then again I don't pound bumps or drop cliffs on my board like I do on alpines. Teleing has been the kindest to my knees. Much more fluid, knee-friendly motion than alpining.
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Old 12-13-2010   #6
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BZN, Montana
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Do yourself a favor and never buy clicker bindings.
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Old 12-13-2010   #7
nmalozzi's Avatar
Front Range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 330
My advice would as follows:

1) Never by clicker bindings or anything remotely similar to them.
2) Have a shop set up your bindings on your first board. Spend some time with a knowledgeable employee, and work with them to get your bindings in a spot that feels comfortable. Then expect to come back in and make adjustments as you get used to riding. I don't have major knee problems, but after playing ice hockey my entire life they are a little sensitive. It's amazing how big a difference the width of my stance effects them, or a 3degree adjustment will take away all discomfort.
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Old 12-13-2010   #8
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,906
Ditto on the kneepads, I love having warm knees and it muffles the sound of the creaking, squeaking and grinding of my old joints - also good for when you're taking that toe-side rest on your knees.

The board's a great tool for cruddy, heavy, sloppy snow.

Since misery loves company, I also recommend taking a lesson you first time out, no matter how many folks tell you that its a waste of money. Better to get that steep brutal part of the learning curve out of the way as quickly as possible and learning proper technique from the start is the best way to do that.

Have fun,

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 12-14-2010   #9
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 98
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 328
You'll pick it up in a couple of days. The first half day is pretty painful but after that you catch on pretty quick. Wrist guards when you start off aren't a bad idea as I know several who have broken one.

I'll second the lesson suggestion, a second set of eye's (not your buddies) go a long way.

And I jacked up a knee on a snowboard so while it's easier on your knees it's still a pretty high impact sport, especially if you ride hard.
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Old 12-14-2010   #10
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Riverdale, Utah
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 228
"The first half day is pretty painful" ...
Dude man (as a buddy says when he gets exasperated , I don't know why every snowboard instructor/school doesn't loan first-time students hardshell kneepads ($10 at Home Depot), a thick tailbone pad (you can make dozens out of a 5/8" ensolite pad, approx 12" squares, or wider to cover the hip bones), wrist guards, and a helmet. Since you already have a knee issue, and maybe aren't in your 20s any more (skiing 25 years , do yourself a favor, and wear a full set of pads when learning to snowboard. I wear all that stuff every day, and I've been snowboarding since 1984 (maybe not in my 20s any more either . I tend to go fast in trees and the steeps. I know a pro skier/photog who wears a full motocross suit under his ski gear; loves it. Have also heard of guys using hockey pads, football lower body pads; whatever is light, comfortable and priced right. There are loads of padded shorts for sale these days, but I have not found a comfortable set that seems worth the price.
I have had knee and ankle issues from skiing. I have never gotten hurt in the powder when snowboarding. On hardpack, I have hurt my wrists, esp. thumb joint. Even a simple neoprene wrist wrap, or padded mtn bike gloves under your mitts, helps the wrists alot. Stay in the powder; even the heavy stuff.

Be careful getting off the lift if you have one foot on the board. That could be hard on a knee. Make sure you have a grippy stomp pad for the other foot. Detachable quad lifts, or a gondola are sweet for snowboards. Or just hike for backcountry powder; you will never hurt a knee that way .

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