Snowboarding is great fun for those who like to be challenged physically but, like any extreme sport, it does present a greater risk of injury. If you’re a beginner, learning to keep your balance on the board will undoubtedly result in the odd fall, as the locked position of your feet will restrict your entire range of motion and leave you struggling to stay upright. Even seasoned snowboarders will take a tumble from time to time, if they lose their concentration during a difficult jump trick.
An accident out on the slopes does not necessarily reflect on your ability as a snowboarder, but as your rear end will usually be taking the brunt of the impact, you could injure your coccyx.
What is the Coccyx and why is it vulnerable?
The coccyx, often referred to as the tailbone, is the small, triangular bone that sits at the base of the spine. The human coccyx consists of three to five small bones which are fused. It aids our balance and helps the human frame bear weight, but unfortunately its anatomical positioning also leaves it exposed to trauma from high-impact falls.
Interestingly, women are more prone to coccyx injuries than men. This is because the female pelvis is much broader, which leaves the tailbone more exposed.
The symptoms of a coccyx injury (coccydinia)
If you have damaged your coccyx, as a result of a snowboarding injury or otherwise, you’re likely to be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Bruising in the buttocks area
- Swelling at the bottom of the spine
- A deep aching sensation
- Sharp, stabbing pains when you move from a sitting or standing position
Most people escape from a fall with minor bruising to their tailbone, but in some cases the coccyx can also be dislocated or broken. Pain in this area can range from moderate to severe and unfortunately there’s no quick fix for a coccyx injury, though it will usually heal on its own in several weeks or months.
Tips for a faster recovery from coccydinia
However, there are still several things you can do to alleviate pain from a coccyx injury:
- First of all, have your tailbone examined by a doctor or physiotherapist to make sure the problem is diagnosed correctly
- Use a ring cushion or a wedge cushion with the back cut out whilst sitting to minimise pressure on coccyx and to help correctly align your spine.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to take the edge off the pain and to reduce any inflammation. However, only do this if you don’t have any reason that would prevent your from being able to safely take this type of medication. If in doubt, consult your GP or pharmacist. In some cases your GP may arrange an injection to help relieve the pain.
- Sleep on your side or stomach so as to take the pressure of your coccyx and to ease the pain.
To minimise the risk of a coccyx injury, make sure you always wear appropriate protective gear such as pads or padded shorts. You should also make sure you’re using the right length and width of board for your height and shoe size. If you’re having difficulty controlling the board, speak to a ski shop attendant for expert advice and recommendations on equipment. Also, work on improving your snowboarding technique, with the aid of an instructor as this will help you to perfect your technique more quickly, reducing the amount of falls that you have.