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Watch your back

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Back protectors

Lots of debate about the pros and cons of wearing helmets - and we regularly hear of knee injuries, the bane of all skiers. But reading this article in Pendle Today, how often do skiers and boarders end up injuring their backs, more or less seriously?
Quote:
Milena, a partner in SAMS hair salon, in Rainhall Road, was on holiday in Bulgaria with family and friends when she fell on the slopes and suffered a compressed fracture on her vertebrae.
"It was a simple fall and could have happened on the street here," said Milena.

Back protectors are worn more and more by the pros now - racers in the local ski club here in Les Arcs would feel undressed without one. But have they caught on among the tourists? (would do a poll, but think it's still out of action?)....
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
PG, as you know, I wear full body armour at all times and I’m quite prepared to say that anyone who skis/boards at high speed, in the park or off piste and doesn’t wear a spine protector in addition to a helmet is an idiot and is contributory negligent for any injury they sustain. Particularly in the terrain park!
</rant>
Cool
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
if you're racer or doing proper tricks in the terrain park, then it's a good idea. otherwise, i don't see a particular need in normal circumstances. Sure, you can injure yourself if you fall badly but if we keep going down that route we may as well ski along inside an inflatable sphere - it is all about how likely the risk is.

so far, i have not had a fall that has hurt my back in impact. Other types of fall, such as landing on your ass, could compress the spine but a back protector will not stop that anyway - it will only protect against direct force.

actually, i guess that i do wear a sort of back protector as i always wear my backpack containing a camelbak - and sometimes my shovel.

i am beginning to notice more of them (obviously you only see them at lunchtimes when people remove their jackets) but i have always assumed that this is part of the creeping "extreme" culture where people like to think that they are hard-core and that they must buy the latest protection devices in order to justify that view of themselves - even if this is not backed up by their actions.

I did see one guy in S&R Covent Garden this year - a 40ish year old city worker who was slightly overweight and just didn't look the type of guy that you would expect to be boarding hard. He did look (and sound) like the type of guy that thought he was 15 years younger and i suspected that his purchase of full body armour was motivated by the fact that he was fooling himself, rather than by a fear of hurting himself in normal riding. I may be being unfair, but this was based on overhearing his conversations with the assistant rather than just my impression of how he looked.

I know that you have had some nasty accidents in the past Masque, and so I can understand your own reasons for wearing the full clobber.
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A work colleague fell on piste, slid off piste and landed on a rock early on in her skiing life....broken back and months of work. Last year a guy in our chalet fell backwards onto his pack and nearly missed the flight home because they were worried about the extent of the damage. Seems like protection might be worthwhile....but then I don't even wear a helmet when I probably should!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I have been debating this in my own mind. Problem is, I know of 4 injuries to vertebrea and in 2 of them the people weren't wearing back protection and in 2 they were! It seems that they protect your spine from only certain types of fall. Of the 2 people who were injured not wearing protection, 1 still doesn't wear any while the other goes out fully armoured, helmeted etc all the time.

I have taken the view that skiing witha backpack with shovel will give me some protection athough obviously not as good as a purpose made spine protector. One problem is, when I tried on some of this stuff, it felt really uncomfortable. Any views on this?
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Tony Lane, People aren't born with the ability to perform 360s or especially 180s to switch (why can’t I nail switch landings!!!). The time to wear protection is when you're starting to learn or trying to progress. That's why I was in harness or landing on a crashmat when learning new tumbles or tramp routines (a long time ago).
There are always going to be times when conditions or equipment are going to bite you, the better prepared you are the lesser the potential injury. I don't notice my stuff until I need it and comfort is getting better all the time.
As for your fat 40+ (scared glance in the mirror), he may be talking out of his backside but he's someone most in need of wearing it!
I've one caveat and that's 'VOLVO SYNDROME'. If you put any poorly skilled, over opinionated fathead in armour they'll think they're invulnerable and behave in that manner and often take someone else with them into the carnage.
And lastly, if more people wore butt, knee and wrist protection when learning to board they’d have a lot more fun and progress a dam sight quicker.
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Masque, good points indeed, but I have enough trouble getting ready in the morning without having yet another thing to clamber into before getting out of the apartment before i overheat!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After being hit twice in two years by out of control skiers I dont think you can be too careful. Myself and Snowbird are currently looking at helmets and may purchase them in BSM at the EOSB.
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This is something I've been thinking about very seriously. I had an innocous fall in Corcheval in March - in the trees between the easy blues/greens coming into the main part. Unfortunately I landed very badly, managed to struggle down but that was the season over. When I sought help at home mainly because I was having a bit of difficulty breathing in the morning and intense stomach pain it turned out that I'd got an old compression fracture of my T12 vertabrae which is linked to the diaphragm, twisted pelvis, torn (pulled) obliques and a few other linked muscle contraftions. After treatments everything has been resolved (ish) but my back is still sore/weak.

I boardeed for a week end and I was OK. My back just got a bit tired but then i didn't fall and I didn't push myself and the snow was soft not icy. So I am asking myself:-

Would a back protector have prevented these injuries? maybe but while I fell on my back to do the injuries I did it must have been at a sideways angle so I don't know if a protector would have worked.

and more importantly do I need protection now?
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ashton parker,
Quote:

an innocous fall in Corcheval in March - in the trees between the easy blues/greens coming into the main part


Not quite as innocuous as it looks - kids love it, but they've only got little skis, and it gets the big 'uns time and time again ... my husband sustained a nasty rotator cuff injury forgetting he was no longer 9 years old on that bit! He couldn't lift his arm for six months Crying or Very sad
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ashton parker, Your story highlights the dilemma over back protection. I have heard stories like yours before. It seems to me that you can protect yourself against many types of injury but there are also many you cannot. Do you therefore wear everything available and look like I don't know what while being uncomfortable all the time, or do you only wear some things in the hope the exposed parts don't get injured. Or maybe even buy the whole lot and rotate what you wear day to day. before you start skiing you could look in the mirror and ask yourelf "are you feeling lucky today (punk)" wink Very Happy

Seriously, how far do we go to protect ourselves and at what point does all the gear starts to ruin the enjoyment.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I wear a Dainese Nextwave back protector personally and a helmet. It's plainly absurd not to take some steps to protect yourself if you're on the slopes regularly.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
ise wrote:
It's plainly absurd not to take some steps to protect yourself if you're on the slopes regularly.
I have never skied with a guide who wears "protection" and I have skied witha fair number. They must all be absurd as they are on the slopes regularly. As must every instructor, most pisteurs etc, etc.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Simonn, I'm with you, never seen a guide, instructor or even a half way decent terrain park user wearing body armour.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
SimonN wrote:
Seriously, how far do we go to protect ourselves and at what point does all the gear starts to ruin the enjoyment.

Just asked my daughter - who wears hers both for racing and free skiing - and her words were that "she doesn't even notice she's wearing it" any more. It doesn't restrict her movement in the slightest. Surely having the best equipment enhances, rather than hinders enjoyment.

When discussing what instructors and guides do, we have to bear in mind that most have grown up in a different culture and are to a degree set in their ways. You can be pretty certain that the next generation will not be so hesitant to don a helmet or a back protector.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
SimonN, David@traxvax, No disrespect as you both seem to have been skiing for years.

I have only been skiing since Xmas and I have already met 2 experienced British instructors who wear back protection all the time , even when conducting lessons. I have no idea what made them 'absurd', as Simon put it.

Thank goodness for freedom of choice.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Newbie50, Simon was borrowing ise's words, to be fair. Thinking about it though, unless you ask a guide/instructor specifically, or eat/drink with them after a lesson, it's virtually impossible to tell if someone's wearing body armour. I know several young French ESF instructors that do wear back protection, but as for the many others I've met I really couldn't be sure either way. I do tend to assume that most over 30ish probably don't bother.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
David@traxvax wrote:
Simonn, I'm with you, never seen a guide, instructor or even a half way decent terrain park user wearing body armour.

Since the 'terain park' is the very last place on the hill that you'd ever go (if at all) your experience of its 'users' could only best be described as limited. As for 'seen' . . . x-ray eyes have you?
There's opinion then there's BS and just how many times did your chalet host injure himself in the park last year? A bit of protection then might have been useful.
Further, since you only ski and wear a helmet (at least when you don't lose them at the bus stop) most of the time staying on piste I'm quite happy to call you a hypocrite in this thread.
Any more pearls?
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Hmm. Skiing and boarding have always been hazardous sports. And I wonder if there is a risk that we may try to counteract that with too much [url=http://www.ski-injury.com/volvo(s).jpg]safety equipment[/url]. We have seen some figures that suggest helmets may be benficial. I have be unable to find any research that shows the benfits or oherwise of back protectors - anybody seen anything definite? There does seem to be a consensus growing that boarders and should consider them. For those going down this route, the next stage is butt protectors Shocked
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
What type of damage is a back protector protecting against?

Presumably protecting against small, sharp objects such as jagged rocks; the back protector resisting piercing - a back pack may be an alternative here as long as you are not carrying sharp objects.

Presumably protecting against bending impacts to spread the load over a larger area - a back pack will cause this type of injury, for example, back packs on motor bikes are strongly advised against as the bottom edge of the back pack acts as a break point.

Will it protect against twisting muscle tears? - doubt it.

Will it protect against impact along the spine? - doubt it.

I can understand racers and park users considering that they are at sufficient risk to warrant back protectors but for the average recreational skier I would have thought that the risk was very small.
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Quote:
The back-protection system protects parts of the spine that have been neglected until now. Because of the competition rules of the FIS – the sport’s governing body – the upper (cervical) part of the spine has remained unprotected. This is in fact the most vital part to protect – a matter of survival. Another area which is not quite as vital, but still important to protect, is the bottom (coccyx) part. This too is well-protected.

A recent "Ski Racing" article containing this quote makes some interesting points on this issue.
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The terrain park users that I know well, both my sons and my daughter's boy-friend, who are more than competent skiers and boarders do not wear any protection other than helmets. I don't need Xray eyes to see that. I don't recall ever seeing any of the instructors who participate in the ski spectacle on a Monday evening, when there are some amazing jumps, wearing them. I can't remeber ever seeing a ski-jumper wearing them. When you can manage more than 5 turns without falling over on either a board or skis you might not need them. Or does dressing up like Darth Vader count towards competency. ]
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
David@traxvax, I assume that most instructors and racers ( ref: PG and myself) can put together more than 5 turns without falling over. wink

P.S. So can I (sometimes) .. but still no back protector.
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Newbie50, snowHead daughter (12) was wearing back protector in this photo, taken last week in the Flaine British Schoolgirls Champs ... after 101 racers had gone down the course, it was like a slalom with moguls! She was bouncing over the lip of what resembled a bobsleigh run from top to bottom in order to take the gates, but still managed to thread together 40 turns or so, without mishap - just about!

The back protector, in difficult conditions like that, is advisable - slalom speeds are greater than people think... as this photo (of one of the Les Arcs juniors) demonstrates ... (and have just watched Ted Ligety get spat out of a turn in a spectacular highsider in almost identical fashion...)
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PG, Great action shot of your daughter
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David, I had a conversation with one son who was quite pro-backprotectors and was considering a purchase, as for the other, how long is it since you last talked to him? His thoughts on this matter may be very different today. And the descriptive noun you used to describe your daughter’s non skiing boyfriend when he hurt himself in the park last season was quite colourful, who knows, protection could have saved him that pain and made less work for the others to do for him. It was hardly a benefit to your business.
Your sample is not representative or informed, as I said opinion verses BS.
I suppose that your analogy could be asked of you, does wearing a helmet give you brains.
Wearing protection is just to minimise risk from adverse conditions, equipment failure or the incompetence or negligence of others.
As has been pointed out, the number of manufacturers, and the range of products are growing, there is a market and it’s getting better informed. You don’t help anyone make an informed choice by pulling facile comments out of your **** about an important subject.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
PG,Not sure if you thought I was knocking them - absolutely the opposite. I am seriously considering where to get decent safety equipment - like the sound of the POC stuff but can not as yet find a distributor in UK or France. I hired a helmet last time I went ski-ing after banging my head after one fall.

There is no question of protection giving me added 'macho', I was born stupid and enjoy pushing the envelope in whatever I do.

Don't understand why there is all this 'wimp- culture' associated with helmets and Back protectors. I am old enough to remember when crash helmets and car safety belts were not mandatory ( and old enough to have ridden and driven without them). If my fading memory cells serve me correctly there wre many luddites at that time who refused to wear them on the basis that they 'could' cause problems in accidents and were unnecessary.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Sat 12-02-05 17:40; edited 1 time in total
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PG, Should have added , I am NEVER likely to be as skilled or go as fast as your daughter. Wonderful picture. It won't stop me trying though !
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Newbie50, no, I realised that you were in favour... look forward to seeing you on the slalom course!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
john wells wrote:
What type of damage is a back protector protecting against?

Presumably protecting against small, sharp objects such as jagged rocks; the back protector resisting piercing - a back pack may be an alternative here as long as you are not carrying sharp objects.
.


Probably not, they're not close enough and certainly don't provide lumbar protection.

You seem to have grasped the fairly obvious point that's eluding the earlier posters though, skiing off piste through rocks and tree there's plenty you can land your back on to do damage.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
PG wrote:
Newbie50, . look forward to seeing you on the slalom course!


Sorry for the delay in replying but I have been ROTFLMFAO .... Laughing I think slalom course would need to be spaced out on a nice smooth blue run with the gates about 30 yards apart and all in a dead straight line.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I think that a fair point ahs been raised that without xray vision, it is difficult to know if protection is being worn. However, last year there was a big debate amongst Top Ski clients because of somebody using both a helmet and spine protector so the question was asked and it seems that none of their guides wear anything. And their team includes a fair number of ex FIS racers as well as an ex moguls world champ.

Pat Zimmer, who owns Top Ski, told me that they hadn't had a client suffer a back injury that a spine protector would have helped. People keep saying that if you go off piste you need head/back protection but almost every accident i have heard of involving injuries to those areas have been on piste. If i skied regularly on piste 9i don't because its too scarey) I would more seriously consider a helmet!

Having said that, I do know of some really great terrain park skiers who always wear protection but they are doing some really radical stuff so its not suprising.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Let's not forget that those of us who belong to the 'leaner, fitter" variety of skier Shocked do not come complete with built-in padding! wink

Any extra padding that absorbs some of the shock of impact is good news for certain types of physique, I would have thought, and not just for protection against sharp objects.
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The choice to use protection is a personal one (sniggering finished?) and has to be made with as much freedom and information as possible.
It’s not surprising that many highly skilled and experienced snow professionals forego armour in everyday situations. They have developed the strength, reflexes and skills to recover from situations that will put the majority of us on our @rse, into hospital or the morgue. If you know you’re going to spend the day skiing at 30% of your ability teaching a class of beginners or intermediates, then wearing a back protector is easily dismissed. From reading here, the majority of us do not have that ease of choice, It’s while we strive to achieve their standards that we need to consider the amount of protection we wear.
One of the most painful accidents on the piste I’ve ever had was while making yellow snow, I fell back onto some ice lumps at the side of the run a drove a spike into my kidney! I was barely able to walk for 3 days and was piddling blood for a week. A back protector would have protected me.
They prevent penetration injuries, spread the shock loading for all impacts and the interlocking plate type reduce hyperextension or fulcrum point injuries to the spine. They won’t protect against torsion injury or massive trauma, there is always a limit to anything.
The hills are getting busier, people are traveling faster than ever before, more of us, because of advances in equipment and technique, are venturing off piste and into the trees. Let’s be honest, there’s not one of us who’s getting younger and every last one of us is guilty of working too hard and staying out too long at least once on a trip.
I wear it because I know I’m not very good and it’s more than possible that I’ll encounter a situation that’s outside my comfort zone. It’s by surviving those situations that will give me the experience to cope with or avoid them in the future.
Even the simplest of falls can hurt a skier or boarder, I take the viewpoint that not taking steps to minimise the risks I put myself to is a dereliction of my responsibilities to myself, my sports and the resort personnel that have to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.
I don’t see a need for compulsion, it should always be a personal choice. I do see a need for people who think they’re too clever to ever see the need for them at all, to stop demonstrating their stupidity.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
So you've made yellow snow and red snow. Have you made green snow?
(sorry, that wasn't really called for. Very glad you recovered, Masque!)
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Masque, using a back protector had never crossed my mind before, you make some valid points and I have watched this thread with interest. The last time I did that I bought a helmet maybe its off to the shops again. A a little research into size a type reqiured.
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Russell wrote:
Masque, using a back protector had never crossed my mind before, you make some valid points and I have watched this thread with interest. The last time I did that I bought a helmet maybe its off to the shops again. A a little research into size a type reqiured.


I think Masque has it quite right. If you're seriously interested in getting something then Dianese are worth looking at. They now have a NextWave which I use, it's jointed and provides lumbar protection.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
ise, Is that the new one with the alloy honeycomb? If it is and you have a severe impact you will have to send it back to Dianese to have it checked and/or have the crushed section replaced as its protection will be compromised. It is much better at absorbing and dissipating impact shock than the prior models but it does need maintenance if used in anger.
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