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About to paddle out? Common injuries you may come across in the surf and how to prevent them.

Surfing is a popular water sport. More people in the water means potentially more injuries in the surf. Surfing injuries can be minimised by being aware of the common injuries faced, being familiar with correct surf etiquette, and conditioning your body through exercises and stretches specifically tailored to surfing. Below are some exercises to assist with hip mobility. Note: If you are experiencing pain during or following surfing you should consult a health practitioner.

Common injuries:

1) Sprains and strains

A sprain is an overstretched, torn, or twisted ligament. A ligament is a tough band of fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones or cartilage. Commonly sprained areas include the shoulders, ankles and knees. A strain is an overstretched, torn, or twisted tendon or muscle. A tendon is a tough cord of fibrous tissue that connects muscles to bones. Usually they are caused by excessive twists and turns, landing awkwardly with force, or generally overdoing it when the body is not conditioned.

2) Muscle Contusion

Are defined as an acute direct muscle injury as a result of blunt trauma to the tissue with associated haematoma. Other than the surfboard, the hard ocean floor can lead to this injury. The injury commonly results in a diffuse, dull pain, with associated bruising, swelling and is sore to touch. Additionally, contusions affect the muscle function in both strength and flexibility, and range of motion of a joint. Eg A blunt trauma to the muscles of the back may impair a persons ability to bend forward from the hips and walk.

3) Lacerations, abrasions and cuts

One of the most common injuries from surfing. Sharp fins, pointy surf board noses, reefs and heavy impact with the ocean floor are common causes. Open wounds my need medical attention with the application of stitches to the wound to prevent infection.

4) Fractures

Fractures can happen whilst in surfing. Most commonly fractures to to the ribs and skull. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect a fracture.

Acute injuries should be managed with RICE method (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). Seeing a physiotherapist can assist in restoring range of motion of a joint, reducing pain, improving strength and preventing further injury.

Stretches to assist in hip mobility for surfing

The hip joint is structurally designed to move. Lack of movement and seated postures restrict your hip movement which means other muscles, tendons and joints like the low back or knee have a higher chance of pain or injury. Tight hips can limit your ability to pop up quickly, reduce the force absorption through turns, and reduce your ability to rotate which can lead to not turning as quickly or powerfully.

Follow these two stretches to help increase your joint motion, done regularly (2-3 x day), it can assist in targeting specific hip muscles to help with your surfing.

Quad/Hip Flexor Stretch – Keep a neutral pelvis (no excessive arch in back) and gently tuck from the buttock of the back leg to open the front of the back hip. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat with the other side.

90/90 Hip Stretch – Find a 90degree angle with the front and back leg. Try and keep the back straight and chest open. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat with the other side.

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