Surf’s up! Avoiding injuries in the breaks

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When thinking about surfing injuries, most people may think they come from shark attacks. But those attacks are exceedingly rare, when compared to the risk of other traumatic injuries. Common among them are spinal or head injuries from wiping out. Even experienced surfers can suffer from impacts with their own or someone else’s surfboard. In fact, impact with a surfboard accounts for over 60 percent of surfing injuries, according to a 1980s study from Australia.

As surfers take higher risks and conduct more aerial maneuvers, the probably of suffering sprains, dislocations and ligament tears increases. Even in moderate surf, a surfer can dislocate his or her shoulder from rag-dolling.

According to an article written by Sean Fyfe on the Sports Injury Bulletin, this can lead to rotator cuff impingement and tendinitis, resulting in pain in the front shoulder and the deltoid region. A chronic condition like this is most commonly seen in beginners, from poor paddling technique, and older surfers, from years of paddling.

Understanding the risks, and having a realistic assessment of your skills so you take measured risks, is key to preventing serious traumatic injury. To reduce the risk of overuse injuries, surfers should take a few minutes on the beach to warm up and stretch before heading out.

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