Surfing is a safe sport, but as in any other sport or physical activity, injuries can happen. Surfers are constantly in contact with water and with their boards, near sandy or rocky obstacles.
Waves are the nature of surfing, and run the gamut from small lappers to big walls of water. Accidents can happen in any size surf, so how do you minimize your risk of getting hurt?
First of all, if possible, pre-surf workouts go a long way to getting the body in shape for knocks and sudden muscle and joint movement. This can help you avoid things like lumbar sprains, cervical damage, dislocated shoulders, knee and ankle injuries. Fractures can also occur if the body comes into contact with hard surfaces with too much force.
The most severe surf injuries are caused by the surfboard (67%). The fins, the nose, the tail and the rail can hit you in your head, eyes, lips or ears and that means pain and blood. So, whether you're paddling out or kicking out of a wave, think of a surfboard as a gun, and handle with care.
Lacerations can be avoided with the protection of a good wetsuit, and also by practicing risk-avoidance, especially when near a jetty or in a reef break. Risk is manageable. Stepping into red zones doesn't make you a hero.
Cramps are also very common and can put you in danger, particularly if you're surfing big waves. If you cramp up, stay calm and ask for help. Skin is always to be considered, and must be protected against UV rays with a quality sun cream.
Surfer's ear and the pink eye can also cause damage if left unchecked. Wildlife in the sea can also cause misery. Some of the more familiar ones to beware of are sharks, seals and jelly fish. Learn a few tips on how to reduce the probability of having severe injuries while surfing. Also, start your surf training program.