Surfing can be a fun and exhilarating activity, but it also comes with a few risks. If you know the common injuries and how to prevent them, you could become a safer and better surfer. Here are some of the most common surfing-related injuries and how to prevent them!
Wipeouts and Surfboard Impacts
As you learn to surf, it is natural that sometimes you fall off your board. However, if you wipe out too much or too hard, you may start feeling pain in your knee. Getting a professional assessment from a physiotherapist will help determine if the injury is serious and will need further treatment. You can reduce the risk of injury with a foam surfboard, for example. Trying a more stable, soft board that will not hit the water or your legs as hard.
You can prevent surfboard impacts by working on your paddling technique and also strengthening the muscles in your shoulders, arms, core, and legs with physiotherapy strengthening exercises.
Strain to the Trunk Muscles
Surfing requires a lot of strength in your upper body, especially in your trunk muscles. If you get hit by a big wave, it may cause back pain. This type of injury will need physiotherapy treatment that focuses on strengthening your trunk muscles to prevent future injuries.
Also, you could reduce the risk of injury by wearing a wetsuit, specifically one that has extra padding to protect your trunk.
Neck and Head Injuries
Surfing can be an exhilarating activity and it may not seem like you are putting yourself at risk for head or neck injuries because you will only fall off your board if you wipe out. However, small impacts to the head and neck can add up quickly and cause issues.
Small impacts to the face (such as getting hit by a wave) or repeated use of your arm muscles (paddling for waves all day long) may lead to pain in your neck and shoulder area. Cervicogenic headaches (headaches caused by neck problems) are also common among surfers.
You can prevent injuries to your head and neck by wearing the proper gear, such as a helmet, full-face mask, or rash guard, which will also help keep you safe in case of an accident.
The ocean can be unpredictable and if you fall from your board at high speeds, even a gentle touch with the rocky seabed could break a bone in your foot. To avoid this, always make sure you are wearing the appropriate footwear for surfing! You can reduce the risk of injury by wearing a leash that attaches to your ankle. This will help prevent you from getting dragged across rocks if you wipe them out.
Your bones can also break if you fall on a reef or a rocky coast. Make sure that your local waves are appropriate for beginners and always stay close to the shoreline.
Ankle and Foot Injuries
Ankle injuries are fairly common among surfers because there is so much strain put on the joints when paddling. Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries, but you can help reduce your risk by strengthening your ankle muscles with physiotherapy exercises. Also, try to avoid walking on hot sand or rocks as this will put extra stress on your ankles and may cause injury.
Legs are easily strained when you are learning to surf and paddling on a choppy day can be very tiring. You may feel muscle pain in the front of your ankle or behind your knee after surfing each day. If left untreated, this could lead to injury and it is best to get an assessment from a sports physiotherapist who will recommend strengthening exercises and stretches to ease the pain and prevent future injuries.
Another common injury among surfers is the impact on your knee or strain on your patellar tendon. You may feel this type of injury when you wipe out after paddling for too long without taking a break. Always make sure that you take a rest when your muscles or joints feel tired and avoid surfing when it is too windy to paddle out.
Sports physiotherapy treatment can help ease the pain of these injuries and if not treated, they could lead to more serious issues like patellar tendonitis (inflammation at the front each day or if you are not wearing proper footwear when surfing small waves, you may cause injury to your feet, ankles, or knees.
Wearing a wetsuit while surfing is recommended because it will keep you warm and it helps with buoyancy so you can paddle more easily. However, wearing an improperly-fitted suit increases the risk of skin irritation over time. You could have an allergic reaction to the neoprene in your wetsuit or you may have chafing from being in the water for too long.
If you are prone to skin irritation when wearing a wetsuit, consider having it custom-made to fit your body perfectly. If you are already dealing with skin irritation, try wearing a rash guard or special wetsuit underwear under the suit.
If you are easily prone to heat rash, try wetting your wetsuit in the ocean or covering it with a beach towel before putting it on. You can also cover your body with sunscreen if you will be surfing for long periods. However, make sure that you apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before entering the water and do not wipe off sunscreen with a towel, as you can spread bacteria and cause an infection.
Muscle Soreness and Cramps
Surfing is a high-intensity sport that uses many of the muscles in your upper and lower body. Because the activity requires a lot of strain on the body, it is common to experience muscle soreness after a few hours of surfing. If you take a break between surf sessions, this will help reduce the risk of cramps and injuries caused by overexertion.
It is important to stretch before and after every surf session to ensure that your muscles are properly warmed up and stretched out. You can also try applying heat or ice packs to the affected area to reduce the pain.
Surfing is an amazing activity, but it can also be hazardous to your health. The most common injuries are ankle sprains, knee strains, and inflammation of the patellar tendon. If you take care to prevent these injuries by strengthening your joints beforehand with physiotherapy exercises or using heat packs after surfing sessions for relief from pain, you will get more out of this fun sport!