Surfing is a fantastic, healthy sport to become involved in and as a bonus it is very safe with few serious injuries. Research statistics suggest that all surfers will experience at least 1 significant injury during their lifetime participation. The most common type of injury is due to impact with your own board (55%), the ocean floor (18%) or another surfer (11%). If you are over 40, surfing big waves and a beginner or expert you are more at risk.

Impacts will most likely result in cuts and bruises. If you experience a cut then apply direct pressure to slow/stop the bleeding and if possible raise the cut above the level of your heart. As soon as you can clean the wound and apply a dressing. If the bleeding persists seek medical attention as you may need suturing. If the impact area bruises then apply the R.I.C.E. protocols (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). You might also consider applying a topical arnica cream as this can help to speed up bruise healing. If you experience a lot of swelling/inflammation (redness/heat) then seek medical attention.

If you are unlucky enough to hit your head you need to be aware of the possibility of concussion. If you experience a headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, double vision, ringing in your ears or slurred speech then seek medical attention for a neurological assessment. If you lost consciousness for 5 or more minutes as a result of the impact then you should undergo a CT or hospitalisation for observation. Suffering a concussion means you need to rest until mild exercise produces none of the symptoms mentioned previously. Research suggests that wearing a hard helmet is not effective in preventing/reducing concussion – though strengthening your neck muscles may help!

The physicality of surfing can also result in shoulder and low back injuries. Shoulders are subjected to repetitive strain from paddling and trauma from wipe-outs and/or impact. If your surfing is giving you shoulder issues then you should see a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis to then receive appropriate treatment and rehabilitation. Prevention is better than cure so an evidence based shoulder stabilisation, strengthening and flexibility program can make all the difference.

Similarly wipe-outs and impacts can cause lower back injuries. The aggressive twisting and bending can also place strain on your low back. A medical professional can provide accurate diagnosis and appropriate intervention. Maintaining your flexibility and conditioning your back and core muscles can help to reduce your risk.

Sunburn is often a risk with surfing – remember to apply a good quality waterproof sunblock!