Common Surf Injuries

Surfing is a safe sport but as in any sport or physical activity accidents might happen. Usually the physical damage is not so severe that you need to consult a doctor or specialist right away but severe accidents do occur. Submerged rocks or flying surfboards can really ruin your day so be careful and look out for each other.

Here is a list of the most common surf injuries:


One of the most common injuries for surfers are usually caused by fins or sharp coral reefs. It is advisable to wear booties and use fins with softer edges. If you sustain a laceration clean the wound and add a sterile compression while trying to keep the affected area above heart level. If it keeps bleeding apply as much pressure as possible and call for an ambulance.


Your head or neck might get severely injured from a collision with the ocean floor, your own or somebody else’s surfboard or a submerged boulder. Beginners should use foam boards and surfers sometimes even wear helmets to avoid severe head trauma. Concussions, spine fractures and fractures of the face, jaw and neck all need immediate medical attention. Call a doctor or ambulance as soon as possible.


The tip of the surfboard is sharp and point and can severely damage your eye and may result in a permanent loss of vision. A soft nose guard on your own surfboard can prevent serious damage. To avoid collisions with other people’s boards do not surf too close to them. If you experience a loss of sight or bleed from your eye socket call an ambulance as soon as possible.


Bruises can occur from contact with the beach, reef, other surfers and their boards. Minor cases are nothing to worry about. Most bruising will respond well to rest, ice, compression and elevation. For more severe cases medical attention will be required. Prevent bruises by good knowledge and application of the surf etiquette, surf at waves that match your ability and do not surf too close to other surfers. Also do not jump head first of your board when you are close to the beach.


Surfing requires a lot of paddling so the shoulders are very vulnerable to overuse. Rotator-cuff impingement and tendonitis are common injuries among surfers. Learn how to paddle properly and efficiently. Do not forget to warm up before you surf and stretch after your session. You will be less prone to surf injuries.


Back injuries usually occur as a result of a wipe out but any sudden movement might damage your poorly conditioned back. A physiotherapist or sports therapist may treat back pain with massages, exercises and stretches. If you suffer from severe constant back pain consult your doctor. Reduce the risk of injury with a good warm up and post stretch routine. Work on your flexibility with yoga or pilates and built your core muscles.


Getting bitten by a shark is every surfer’s worst nightmare. Fortunately it does happen often. Jellyfish stings, sea urchin wounds and stingray injuries are more common. Treat stings with warm saltwater and try to remove the tentacles or spines from the skin. A stingray sting can be treated with hot water. Use antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and alleviate the pain.

Cramps and sunburns are also common to surfers but are not typical surf injuries. It is wise to be prepared, drink enough water before your surf and use proper sunblock.

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