Although surfing is a relatively safe sport to enjoy, like most other sports and physical activities, it is possible to obtain injuries while challenging the waves. The most common surfing injuries include lacerations, contusions, sprains, fractures, and eye/ear damage.
Lacerations are the most common surfing injuries, particularly cuts to the head, lower leg and foot. These are normally caused by surfers coming into contact with their own board or the rudder on the backside of the board known as fins. Lacerations can also be caused by hitting another surfer’s board or by coming into contact with the ocean floor or beach debris. The coral reef on the ocean floor can be particular sharp, slicing through the skin like a razor upon impact. According to Dr. Clayton Everline, a specialist in Ocean Sports Medicine who lives in Hawaii, most lacerations occur to the face, followed by the feet, head, legs and arms.
Contusions also account for a significant number of surfing injuries each year. These particular injuries are normally related to the face and chest, but the arms, legs and feet are also susceptible to injury. When falling from a surfboard, the surfer may collide with various parts of the board resulting in a contusion. Other common obstacles that surfers may experience include submerged rocks and coral reefs. In addition, a powerful wave may slam a surfer into a hard sand ocean floor.
The knee, shoulder, back, neck and elbow are often sprained during surfing due to the significant amount of time spent paddling on a surf board. The shoulder is particularly susceptible to excessive use, with sprains often caused by poor paddling techniques in beginning surfers or by years of paddling among older surfers.
Fractures are caused by the same reasons that result in contusions, but are thankfully a bit less rare. According to surfscience.com, common fractures include those of the face, teeth, jaw and skull.
Eyes and Ear Damage
Due to the shape of a surfboard’s tip, surfers face the possibility of sustaining eye damage during a surfing mishap. However, the more common type of eye injury for a surfer comes from the excessive UV lights that reflect from the water’s surface, as well as the exposure to salt water and the drying effect of the wind. As far as the ears, when falling from a wave, a surfer can penetrate their eardrum when hitting the water. In addition, according to www.sportsinjurybulletin.com, a common ear injury for frequent surfers is “surfer’s ear”, which is a chronic condition caused by cold water and wind rushing in and out of the ear canal. This can result in a reduced diameter of the ear canal and a significant loss in hearing.
While surfing is an enjoyable and fascinating sport, surfers should take note of the inherent risks and injuries that may occur while partipating in this activity. If you are aware of the injuries that you may endure, then you will naturally become more cautious when out on the water. It will become second nature.
Jack is a keen surfer and has suffered a few injuries himself. He suggests getting a quality surfboard in order to help limit the chances of an injury. He recommends Fellow surfboards, where you can also find some great apparel.