Common Surfing Injuries


Surfing is an exhilarating sport that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. However, like any sport, there is always a risk of injury. In this article, we will explore some of the common surfing injuries and how to prevent them. Please note, that we are not medical professionals. This guide is purely based on experience and what we have found works for us. Please take extra caution when surfing and ensure you have medical clearance to participate.

1. Surfer’s ear

Surfer’s ear is a common condition caused by prolonged exposure to cold water and wind. It occurs when the bone surrounding the ear canal grows extra bone in response to the cold water and wind. Symptoms include decreased hearing and an increased risk of infection. Prevention involves wearing earplugs or a neoprene hood to keep the ears warm and protected.

2. Sunburn

Surfing often involves spending long hours in the sun, which can lead to sunburn. The combination of sun exposure and the reflection of the sun off the water can be particularly harmful. Prevention involves wearing a high SPF sunscreen, protective clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat.

3. Wetsuit rash

Wetsuit rash is a common skin condition that occurs when the wetsuit rubs against the skin, causing irritation and rash. It can be prevented by wearing a well-fitting wetsuit, using a lubricant such as petroleum jelly, and showering and changing out of the wetsuit immediately after surfing.

4. Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries are common in surfing, as the repetitive paddling and the force required to catch a wave can cause strains and tears in the shoulder muscles and tendons. Prevention involves strengthening the shoulder muscles through exercises and warm-up routines.

5. Ankle injuries

Ankle injuries can occur when landing awkwardly or falling off the board, causing sprains or fractures. Prevention involves wearing appropriate footwear, such as surf booties, and being aware of the conditions and potential hazards in the water.

6. Head injuries

Head injuries can occur when a surfer is hit by a surfboard or the ocean floor. Concussions, cuts, and bruises can result from head injuries. Prevention involves wearing a helmet while surfing, especially in shallow or reef breaks.

7. Spinal injuries

Spinal injuries can occur from impacts with the ocean floor, surfboards, or other surfers. They can range from minor strains to serious spinal cord injuries. Prevention involves wearing a leash to prevent the surfboard from hitting other surfers and being aware of the conditions and potential hazards in the water.

In conclusion, surfing injuries are common, but many can be prevented through proper preparation, technique, and protective equipment. By being aware of the potential risks and taking steps to prevent them, surfers can enjoy the sport safely and minimize the risk of injury. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience any injury, no matter how minor, to prevent further damage and ensure a speedy recovery.

Surfing offers exhilaration but also carries the risk of injury. This guide provides insights into common surfing injuries and preventive measures to help surfers of all levels minimize injury risks.

Preventive Measures and Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening Exercises for Knees

Strong leg muscles protect the knees. Recommended exercises include squats and lunges, which bolster leg strength and knee stability.

Shoulder Strengthening and Flexibility

Exercises focusing on the rotator cuff and upper back can prevent shoulder injuries. Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise for shoulder health.

The Role of Core Strength and Overall Fitness

Core Strength for Lower Back Health

A strong core can prevent lower back injuries, common in surfing due to prolonged paddling. Deadlifts and planks are particularly beneficial for core strengthening.

Cardiovascular Fitness for Injury Prevention

Regular cardiovascular exercises like swimming enhance overall fitness, reducing the risk of fatigue-related injuries in surfing.

Surfing Frequency and Injury Risk

Balancing Surfing with Cross-Training

For surfers who can’t surf regularly, cross-training is essential to maintain fitness and prevent injuries. A combination of gym-based strength training and swimming is effective.


What are the most common knee injuries in surfing, and how can they be prevented?
Common knee injuries in surfing include damage to the ACL and medial meniscus. Preventive measures include leg strengthening exercises and proper surfing techniques.

How does shoulder strength contribute to injury prevention in surfing?
Strong shoulders are vital in surfing for paddling efficiency and injury prevention. Targeted exercises can enhance shoulder strength and flexibility.

Why is core strength crucial for surfers, and what exercises are recommended?
Core strength is essential for balance and lower back health in surfing. Exercises like planks and deadlifts effectively build core strength.


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