Surfing is a popular water sport that has been growing rapidly in popularity, with more people in the water resulting in more injuries. Although compared with other sports, surfing is relatively safe, contact with the surfboard, rocks, coral, or sand causes most injuries. Surfing injuries can be minimised by being aware of its possible causes, familiarising oneself with surfing etiquette, and most importantly, conditioning your body and mind before riding the waves.
Common Surfing Injuries
Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations
These are the number one injury in surfing. These are caused by sharp fins, pointy surfboard noses, and sharp coral reef edges. In surfers, open wounds are usually found at the heel, ankle, knee and face.
Contusions with ones own surfboard come in a close second among most common surfing injuries after cuts, scrapes, and lacerations. The face is the major area for surf-related contusions. Other than surfboards, the hard ocean floor also causes this type of injury.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains occur as a result of twists and turns upon the body, landing awkwardly or just generally overdoing it. You may feel a sharp pain at first then eventually becomes an ache and can be restrictive in some cases. Common in ankles, knees and shoulders
Fractures can happen whilst surfing. The head is the most common site, mostly involving the nose and teeth, and many ribs get broken. Fractures of the spine can occur but are more likely in big wave surfing or when surfing over reef (If you're brave, google Andre Cottons recent back fracture while surfing Nazare!)
How to Prevent Surfing Injuries
To minimise surfing injuries, you should:
Be prepared, check your level of fitness and competency against the conditions
Be aware of your environment, plan entry and exit to the waves
Know the surfing etiquette (Respect other surfer’s right of way, allow everyone to catch their share of waves, one surfer on a wave)
Like in any other sport, acute injuries should be managed with PRICE method (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). It is especially important to restore a full range of motion for injuries at the back, shoulder, knee, and ankle joints. A physiotherapist will help you in rehabilitating your body using methods specific to surfing and your individual needs. Your local surfing physiotherapist will assess your injury and provide you with an exercise program to get you back to surfing. Your physiotherapist will work to improve your balance, flexibility, proprioception, and strength to optimise your performance and prevent further injury. Remember, better rehab equals less time out of the water.
Our experienced surfing physiotherapy team have designed specific surf physio assessments and programs to help you get the most out of your upcoming trip, season or summer day session whilst keeping injuries at bay! Your Physiotherapist may complete:
An assessment of your strength, movement and areas of weakness.
A rehabilitation program specific to you and your style of surfing incorporating, manual therapy as needed, stretching, strengthening and movement retraining.
A pilates assessment and an individually tailored program, if deemed necessary
A program that focuses on maintenance and reduces overuse injuries from surfing related movements.
If you are interested in booking an appointment with a local Sports Physiotherapist with a special interest in Surfing Injuries, please book online here or call your nearest Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy clinic. For Surfing injuries, we recommend you see Liam Oliver or Tony Beecroft, as they are very keen surfers themselves and understand the motions required for surfing.