Snowboarding is one of the most popular sports in today’s athletic world and certainly one of the most thrilling to perform and watch. Interest in the sport has been steadily intensifying, and more athletes are joining every day, especially since 1998, when it was officially included at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The most recent Olympics held in Beijing, China, featured many different snowboarding events, like Halfpipe, Big Air, Parallel Giant Slalom, and Snowboard Cross, and they were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback increasing the enthusiasm from athletes and fans.

Unfortunately, as beloved as snowboarding has become, it remains a substantially dangerous sport. When slight miscalculations and small mistakes can lead to serious and possibly debilitating injuries, it is easy to understand why snowboarders who have sustained them are reluctant to jump right back in after they have recovered. Serious falls obviously lead to physical injuries that require treatment; however, most of the affected experience moderate to severe mental trauma.

The fear of experiencing a similar incident or something even worse may be difficult to ignore; however, many snowboarders do return to the slopes. But how do they do it?

Although the journey back to the sport is different for everyone, the advice that remains the same for all injured athletes is to not rush yourself. Be sure to spend enough time working on your mental and emotional injuries, as well as your physical ones. Seek proper treatment, complete physical therapy, and take any other necessary steps to ensure that your mind, as well as your body, are fully recovered. Remember that the road to recovery may be long, but it will be well worth it.

Once you begin to feel better, it may be tempting to start right up, but this is not recommended. Some athletes take years to re-enter the sport, starting back slowly, increasing the difficulty over time, and gaining confidence in themselves and their bodies. Make your safety your number one priority, and do not push yourself beyond your limits. Adjust your expectations accordingly, and most importantly, just listen to your body, try to clear your mind, and do what feels appropriate and safe for your specific situation. As you complete more challenges, the easier it will become. If you are having difficulties, speaking with someone or just reading about other athletes’ experiences can be extremely helpful.