The most common kiteboarding injuries

Kiteboarding: injuries are frequent | Photo: Shutterstock

Kiteboarding accidents can be dangerous and even deadly. Because riders are harnessed by the power of the wind, there are some risks kiteboarders have to take into consideration.

When you're strapped to a kite, you should know what you're doing. For example: have you learned to unhook when unexpected events like strong wind gusts happen?

There's a lot going on while riding a kite. And when you progress and think you've mastered the art of kiteboarding, big airs end up in the hospital. It's not inevitable, but it is part of the game.

Kiteboarders often fall off or crash into the water and collide with obstacles including rocks, boats, buildings, and other water sports enthusiasts.

Like in windsurfing, surfing and any other sport, kiteboarding has its list of common injuries. Some of them will not require special medical attention, but there are a few ones that might get you in the surgery room.

Despite the technological advances in the equipment, there are still many riders who don't know how to operate a kite and its gear. Therefore, when they are confronted with unstable weather patterns, and overpowering, they lose the control of their wings, and suffer injuries.

Kiteboarders must know how to prevent accidents and injuries. They should be aware of their limits, prepare physically and mentally for each session and use protection equipment such as helmets and life jackets.

According to specialists, there is significant stress placed on the musculoskeletal and physiological systems of kiteboarders. A study led by Christoph Nickel over a six-month period concluded that the most common types of kitesurfing injuries are:

Contusion: 33.8%
Abrasion: 27.4%
Laceration: 16.9%
Joint sprain: 9.7%
Fracture: 3.2%
ACL rupture: 0.8%
PCL rupture: 0.8%
Polytrauma: 0.8%
Other: 6.5%

Kiteboarding: learn how to prevent accidents | Photo: Van der Heide/Red Bull

The regions of the body which suffered injuries were:

Foot/ankle: 28.2%
Skull: 13.7%
Knee: 12.9%
Chest: 12.9%
Hand/wrist: 8.9%
Calf: 5.6%
Thigh: 4.0%
Elbow: 4.0%
Trunk: 3.2%
Hip: 2.4%
Forearm: 2.4%
Shoulder: 0.8%
Upper arm: 0.8%

Interestingly, Christoph Nickel and the team of researchers behind "A Prospective Study of Kitesurfing Injuries" (2004) found out that the risk of injury during competition was 2.5 times higher than during training.

The majority of injured athletes sustained their injuries on the water (54%) at a distance of more than 50 meters to the beach. There were also injuries (26%) occurred in the water at a distance of less that 50 meters to the beach and injuries (20%) taking place on the beach.

The most frequent causes of kiteboarding accidents are:

Kite launch
Loss of kite control
Collision against obstacles and riders
Crashes into the water
Misinterpretation of the wind conditions
Incorrect kite line installation
Landing jumps and big airs

In 2016, the Department of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery at Royal Perth Hospital published a study on kite injuries and concluded that the number of accidents in kiteboarding is comparable to those seen in recreational skiing.

Explore the most common mistakes in kiteboarding, learn how to avoid collisions between kiteboarders, and take a look at the right of way rules in kiteboarding. uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more on our About section.