Common Surfing Injuries
Surfing is physically demanding, repetitious and often hazardous, particularly for beginners. Advances in surfboard technology enable more speed and sharper turns and competitiveness will push those at the top end to attempt more radical manoeuvres and tackle bigger waves. So logically there are going to be more casualties, and many of them will be among beginners with low skill levels, poor knowledge of conditions and inadequate fitness levels. Surfing injuries can be classified into three groups: paddling toward the surf, catching a wave and marine environment.
Lacerations to the head, lower leg and foot appear, usually caused by contact with the surfer’s own or another surfer’s board or fins (the rudder on the underside of the board); with the ocean floor, rocks, or with coral reef.
Soft-tissue injuries ranging from contusions to acute strains or sprains to the lumbar and cervical spine, shoulder, knee and ankle and even fractures occur frequently. The head and face area is the most common injury site, followed by the ribs. This is usually do getting tossed by waves and your body coming into contact with surfboards, rocks, and coral reef.
Ears and eyes are another hot injury spot. Eye injuries can result from direct trauma but also chronically from excessive UV light reflecting from the water surface, the drying effect of the wind and exposure to salt water.
And of corse the surfer’s ears can suffer in a ‘wipeout’ (coming off the board while riding a wave) which can perforate an eardrum.
So what can you do to surf safely?
Hard plastic or rubber nose guards fitted to the front tip of the board can soften the blow if contact is made during a wipeout. Also, a wetsuit can help guard against lacerations from fins. A hood attached to the suit will protect a surfer’s eardrums.
Booties will protect against lacerations from an underlying reef – although many surfers forgo them because they impair their ‘feel’ for the board. In large surf, selecting a longer leash can also be very helpful in preventing contact injuries with the board. And of corse a helmit can be worn to protect the head.
Also don't forget your surfer salve for sunburn, small lacerations, and rash.
My advice is...forget the cool factor....surf safely!