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Young girl about to go surfing.

Prevent Common Surfing Injuries

Surfing is a popular way for families in Hampton Roads to enjoy the ocean and get some exercise. As with any sport, it’s important to know the best way to help your kids avoid injuries, especially if they’re trying something new.

Learn surfboard safety.

Some of the most severe injuries surfers experience are caused by their own board. The nose, fins, tail, or rail can make contact with any part of the body, resulting in a variety of injuries including cuts, bruises, and concussions. While these injuries are not completely avoidable, an experienced and qualified surf instructor can help your child understand the importance of staying aware of their own surfboard – and the boards of surfers around them.

Wetsuits provide protection.

Thick wetsuits can prevent hypothermia when surfing in cold water. A quality wetsuit can also provide some protection from cuts, abrasions, and board rash.

Pick your surfing spot carefully.

It’s best to choose an area with small waves. Avoid surfing in shallow reefs or near piers, which can make surfing dangerous. Surfing in “heavy shore dump” can cause serious injury to surfers. A shore dump is a steep wave that breaks hard in shallow water near the shore.

Warm-ups help prevent injuries.

Always make sure your kids warm up before heading into the water. This will help prevent back and shoulder injuries. Shoulder impingement – when a tendon in the shoulder rubs against the shoulder blade – is very common in surfers due to the amount of overhead work done while paddling on the surfboard. Repetitive overhead motions can cause inflammation in this area.

A proper warm-up and stretching routine, as well as rotator cuff stabilization and strengthening, can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with shoulder injuries. Adding neck strengthening to your routine can also help to lessen the severity of a head injury.

Keep the core strong.

Lower back strains, muscle spasms, disc injuries, and vertebral fractures can all occur while surfing. A strong core is key to preventing these types of injuries. In addition to stretching and warm-up, maintaining good posture while surfing and paddling on the board is important.

Surfing is a fun sport that is enjoyed by many, but is not without risks. Injury prevention and awareness of risk are critical to avoiding serious injuries. So, help your kids be smart and safe while having fun on the waves.

If your child sustains a head injury while surfing and is experiencing concussion-like symptoms, be sure to seek medical treatment from your primary care physician or a sports medicine physician experienced in concussion management.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.