Wipeouts common for surfers

NO SPORT is without its injuries including surfing, new research has found.

A Southern Cross University study involving 700 recreational surfers has found one in three board riders are likely to experience one or more surf-related injuries on any given year.

The most common sore points for surfers include injuries to the knees, ankles, lower back and shoulders.

Dehydration and excessive sun exposure resulting in skin damage were also found to be common.

Drawing conclusions from their survey, SCU scientists in conjunction with Surfing Australia have called for more education and information targeting surfers to help them avoid serious sports-related injuries.

Dr Rudi Meir, who led the research team, said surfers were asked to participate in an online survey to provide more information on injury rates, types and severity of injury, skin cancer and general surf safety.

“While surfing is seen as a healthy outdoor activity, safety is an important issue,” Dr Meir said.

“This includes not only ocean knowledge, but also physiological aspects, which can sometimes be overlooked.

“Much of the time is spent paddling, which is a highly demanding activity placing stress on the shoulders and lower back.

“In addition, the ankles and knees are placed under stress as a result of the dynamic rotational movements of the upper body, which transfers load down through these joints when surfing.

“As a result, an injury prevention program that focuses on increasing the stability and mobility around these joints may help reduce the incidence of these injuries.

“For example, functional balance training on an unstable surface could reduce the likelihood of injury to the knee, ankle and lower back, while additional forms of training such as weight training, stretching and yoga could also play an injury prevention role.

“Given most surfers will spend one to three hours in the water, the need for adequate levels of hydration prior to entering the water cannot be overstated.

Many participants also indicated they were still not using sufficient sun protection, in spite of Australian Cancer Council campaigns warning of the harmful damage caused by excessive skin exposure to the sun.

“The research report, which was provided to the New South Wales Sporting Injuries Committee in May, highlights the need to provide surfers with education and information about the need for adequate fluid intake, warm ups and appropriate sun protection before entering the water.

But Dr Meir said surfers should not be discouraged.

“Despite the inherent risks, which all sports have, surfing is an important form of healthy exercise for a growing number of Australians,” Dr Meir said.

Respondents in the survey indicated they spent an average of 11 hours per week in summer and eight hours per week in winter surfing.

This was found to be well above the five hours of moderate intensity activity recommended by the World Health Organisation.

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