10 Things to Avoid When Surfing

Surfing can be fun for a range of skill levels and ages. Whether they’re old or young, male or female, you can find surfers pretty much anywhere. But just like every other sport, surfing as a hobby can come with its own unique set of risks. As such, there are certain things you need to avoid if you wanna keep safe and sound while surfing.

1. Surfing injuries

People can get all sorts of injuries, from scrapes and bruises to strain and sprains on just about every muscle on the body to serious or critical injuries such as fractures and dislocations.

While surfing is considered a relatively safe sport with about 4 injuries for every 1000 days spent surfing, surfers should keep mindful and alert of the ways that they get hurt. Surfers are advised to stretch themselves and warm up before getting on their boards.

2. Weak physical condition

While it’s true that anyone can get into surfing, you’ll inevitably need a certain level of skill to avoid unforeseen injuries. Of course, you’ll need to know how to swim and maintain a good physical condition to prevent injuries while surfing, as paddling and navigating the waves are no small feats.

Due to the cushion of the water during a wipeout, there are relatively lower numbers of injuries compared to other sports, even for beginners. However, it doesn’t hurt to start training before starting surfing, especially with another experienced surfer or trainer, to build up the proper physique and skills.

3. Clashing with others

Surfing etiquette is something to keep in mind when hitting the waves. It’s more than likely, especially in popular areas, that you won’t be the only person on the beach looking to get a chance to surf.

Always wait respectfully for your turn, don’t cut in on anyone else’s wave, and treat people with kindness. After all, it doesn’t hurt to make a new friend with the same hobby.

There are times when it may get too crowded, so it is best to avoid conflict and de-escalate any situations that arise if you can avoid it. No one likes a jerk who tries to hog all the waves to himself.

4. Getting too cocky

Don’t surf above your level! While it may be exhilarating to elevate your skills, accidents, and injuries often happen when you ignore your personal limits. If you’re starting to feel tired, give yourself a much-needed break before taking on another wave.

If you don’t feel comfortable with the strength of the waves, cut yourself some slack. After all, surfing is about enjoying yourself. There’s no need to prove anything to yourself or anyone else.

5. Forgetting emergency measures

We can never be 100% sure of what will happen in a surfing session. It’s best to be prepared for any eventuality, even if the chances seem really slim. Before going into the water, you should have an emergency plan.

If you have a waterproof phone case or communication device, this could be crucial in getting you any needed help. It would be in your best interest to know beforehand of any nearby medical stations or facilities, like hospitals and lifeguards on duty.

Knowing first aid will also give you the chance to help in any situation, especially if another fellow surfer is injured. Having a friend or surfing buddy with you in these situations is much better than being alone.

6. Exposed to the elements

Being exposed to nature and the elements while surfing is one of the largest appeals of the sport. But the skin and body are highly sensitive to weather conditions, especially a combination of the blistering sun and draining ocean water.

If you’re surfing in cooler temperatures, you’ll thank yourself later if you bring a wetsuit. Even in warm climates, it may be best to wear a full-cover suit to shield your skin from the blistering rays.

If you’d rather wear something more flattering, like board shorts or a swimsuit, sunscreen will be your best friend and a good investment against sunburn and skin damage.

Make a habit of drinking a lot of water to replenish your liquids. It’s also important to take a good shower after surfing to get rid of any bacteria and irritants from the sea.

7. Environmental impact

You just simply can’t ignore the environmental impact that you may have when you’re surfing, especially around areas with sea creatures living there. There are plenty of dolphins, whales, and schools of fish that are probably swimming around the same places where people want to catch waves.

As such, don’t leave trash around on the beach or in the ocean. And, if you have things that might fall off your person, be sure to secure any items you have on your person to prevent losing them to the depths. 

8. Missing or mismatched equipment

There are a lot of other things that are essential for surfers to use. Most new surfers don’t realize how much the sun and water can really damage your lips or your exposed skin. So, applying lip balm or zinc paste can protect your chaps from cracking.

Being able to see where you’re going and what you’re doing is pretty important for surfing, so it may be ideal to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses or surfing goggles.

You should especially get eyewear that is polarized and has UV protection. Finally, your board will be your faithful companion as you navigate the waters, so you have to choose one that’s appropriate to your size, skill level, and preferred surfing style. 

9. Dangerous areas

It’s best to make yourself knowledgeable about the area where you’ll be surfing, especially if it’s known for having risky spots. There are rip currents, undertows, and other dangerous currents to worry about, which could pull a surfer in different directions away from safety or even pull them underwater.

The sea is also home to deadly sea creatures such as jellyfish, stingrays, and sharks. Not to mention terrible terrain, such as sharp rocks where tides crash, cliff faces, and razor-like corals hiding just below the water’s surface that could thrash meat and bone.

10. Don’t underestimate the sea

The sea is a formidable part of this incredible planet and shouldn’t be trifled with. If you’ve ever been to the beach or have gone swimming, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can get tired, especially when you’re battling against strong currents.

A rip tide, for example, could pull a surfer away from the shore water at speeds faster than an Olympic swimmer. Even experienced swimmers will find themselves at a loss if they go against the sea’s forces head-on.

It’s in your best interest to learn about what to do when faced with such situations. And before you start surfing, do a cursory check of the waves. If you feel your skill level isn’t up to par, then there’s no shame in trying another day.

Oliver Jones

Written by Oliver Jones

I'm a dedicated surfer and writer, and my heart truly belongs to the ocean. Surfing is not just a sport but a way of life for me. I ride the waves in the water and on paper, pouring my passion into every word I write.

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