5 Most Common Surfing Injuries and How To Avoid Them

There’s nothing more exciting than riding a wave at breakneck speeds from start to finish despite the dangers that surfing possesses. Just how dangerous is surfing for a beginner, and what are the 5 most common surfing injuries that enthusiasts and beginners get?

Just like with any other extreme sport, surfing is both fun and dangerous. It’s a package deal that all surfers have come to accept. This is why this sport can be more fulfilling, especially when you become good at it.

However, just because it’s considered to be dangerous doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it. The goal of this article is to let you know the dangers of surfing, as well as the ways you can avoid or handle these circumstances.

Is surfing a sport you should try? Only one way to find out.

Surfing Precautions Checklist

Since surfing is considered to be an extreme watersport, it’s very important to prepare for it. Sometimes, wearing the appropriate gear isn’t enough. The checklist provided below will give you all the necessary information before you start surfing.

Swim and Surf Lessons

Beginners are highly encouraged to take swim and surf lessons before venturing out into the open sea. There’s nothing scarier than drowning in the ocean with minimal assistance. Once you head out, you’re usually on your own.

Weather Forecast

Learning how to read the weather is something that seasoned surfers have come to master. For beginners, using a weather forecast app can help you plan ahead, or to avoid harsh weather conditions prior to heading out. 

Equipment and Gear

Before heading out, make sure that you have all the surfing equipment ready and that all of your tools are ready. Your choice of wetsuit and surfboard to the type of leash (leg-rope) and fins should be free from defects or damage to ensure safety.

Surfing Etiquette

The most common issue with surf spots is that they tend to get crowded, especially during peak seasons. Learning proper surfing etiquette is very important to avoid inconvenience and any unwanted injuries. Following these rules can make surfing more enjoyable.

Emergency Procedures

Being prepared for worst-case scenarios is your best bet for surviving, especially when surfing in remote locations. Having a first-aid kit within reach is very important, especially if immediate medical assistance isn’t possible.

Buddy System

While surfing is truly an individual sport, having a friend or a group to surf with is always better than going solo. Implementing a buddy system can literally make this dangerous activity more viable for beginners. 

5 of The Most Common Surfing Injuries

Although freak accidents are beyond our control, it’s still better to be informed about what to do should something occur. Now that you’re aware of the proper precautions in surfing, it’s time to discuss the most common injuries that most people get with surfing. 

1. Sunburn

While having sunkissed skin is definitely an advantage, getting prolonged exposure to sunlight can often turn the experience upside down. 

How to avoid it: While totally unavoidable, wearing the right sunblock (SPF 30+) can greatly diminish the effects of sunburn. It’s also advised to avoid peak sunlight hours to minimize the intensity of sunburn.

2. Surfer’s Ear

Also known as External Auditory Canal Exostoses (EACE), Surfer’s ear is a condition that’s very common to surfers who are always exposed to wind and cold water. If you are experiencing hearing loss or cerumen impaction, then you’re most likely suffering from one.

How to avoid it: The best way to avoid a surfer’s ear is to lessen your exposure to cold water. However, if it can’t be avoided, surfers are encouraged to wear custom-fit earplugs to minimize bone growth.

3. Sprain and Muscle Pain

During surfing, there’s always a possibility that some of your ligaments will stretch or even tear when you perform certain quick movements. They can also occur when falling off the surfboard or when overfatigued. 

How to avoid it: One of the best things you can do before surfing is to warm up and body stretches. Focus on your limbs and ankles, as these are the ones working the hardest when you’re balancing on the surfboard.

4. Cuts, Scrapes, and/or Lacerations

These are the most common “battle scars” that surfers get on a regular basis. As your skin gets softer with prolonged water exposure, it will get more prone to cuts and scrapes whenever you come into contact with sharp parts of your surfboard.

How to avoid it: Wearing proper equipment, such as a rashguard or wetsuit, can greatly minimize the effects of these injuries.

5. Concussions, Fractures, and Dislocations

Due to the number of surfers and equipment obstructing the wave line, sometimes injuries such as bone fractures and dislocations can occur. Having a concussion while surfing is also one of the scariest injuries you can get.

How to avoid it: This is where learning proper surfing etiquette plays an important role. Avoid crowded surf spots, and be wary of the other surfers around you. Having enough space for bailing surfers can save you the hassle of getting injured or concussed while out in the water.

Marine Life Encounters

Jellyfish, stingrays, and sharks are some of the most common marine life encounters that surfers get on a regular basis. Injuries caused by marine life can vary from harmless to life-threatening.

How to avoid it: pay close attention to the season and weather conditions before heading out. It’s also best to check in with local advisors, lifeguards, etc… to make sure that your surfing session is low-risk.

Is Surfing Worth Trying?

Every activity you do involves a certain amount of risk. What makes surfing concerning for beginners is the complexity of the possible injuries associated with it, plus the medical response time. Despite those issues, people never stopped trying it out.

If you consider yourself an adrenaline freak, then surfing is something you should put on your bucket list. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it is very fulfilling. While injuries can sometimes be unavoidable, learning how to mitigate these risks while having fun is part of the process.

At the end of the day, all these bruises, cuts, and abrasions are considered your battle scars. These experiences will carry over to your way of life. Imagine all the stories that you can share with your friends and family about surfing. That alone should give you enough reason to try the sport.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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