Surfing Injuries

Researchers: Andrew Nathanson, MD; Philip Haynes, MD, PhD, and Daniel Galanis, PhD

Prior to this study, the last major study of surfing injuries was published in 1987. Since then, surfboards have become lighter, new maneuvers have evolved and surfers are venturing into more dangerous wave breaks.

In this study, investigators developed an interactive, Internet-based survey on self-reported surfing injuries in order to establish the mechanisms, pattern and frequency of surfing-related injuries.

They found that most surfing injuries are lacerations and contusions, evenly divided between the head and neck region and the lower extremities. The majority of injuries are caused by the surfer's own board, the ocean floor or another surfer's board. Chronic injuries are mostly related to overuse of the upper extremity and paraspinous muscles, as well as ear, sinus and skin infections.

The study concludes that many injuries may be prevented by minor alterations in board design and by use of protective equipment.