Surfing is a very popular sport, with an estimated 18 million surfers globally, covering all age groups. Surfing is thought to be a safe sport, compared to many others, with a low overall risk of injury. Most injuries are not serious, but there is danger if you’re not prepared mentally and physically.
Surfers most often sustain injuries to the leg, the head and face, the back, and the shoulder and arm. The main cause of injury is contact with a surfer’s own board or someone else’s board. ‘Wiping out’ and striking the seabed are also common causes of injury. Especially if the break is a ‘reef break’ where the wave crashes onto a shallow reef.
Common injuries from surfing include: lacerations like cuts and scrapes, sprains, dislocations and fractures, and swimmer’s ear/surfer’s ear. To prevent injury, you should: be prepared for anything, be aware of the surfing etiquette, use the right gear, check the environment, know yourself and the sport. Other ways to prevent injury is to warm up before surfing, this may include a general body warm-up followed by suitable stretches. Wear sunscreen (30+) at all times and have lessons from an accredited surf school to learn appropriate skills, techniques and water safety if you haven’t surfed before.
To avoid collisions in the surf, all surfers should practice surfing etiquette. This includes: respecting the rights of other surfers in the water, allowing everyone to catch their share of waves, having only one surfer on a wave. There is not enough room on waves for more than one surfer and collisions, injury and conflict between surfers can occur.