Gold Coast researcher, James Furness, has recently surveyed over 1,000 surfers from around Australia as a part of his PhD study.

Sporting injuries

Prior to the recent study conducted by Mr Furness, little research had been completed into surfing accidents and resultant injuries. This is very surprising, given the fact that surfing is a very popular sport, with over 18 million surfers globally, covering all age groups.

The risk of sustaining an injury as a result of surfing has noticeably increased over time, particularly as overcrowding has become more prevalent at surfing hot spots and surfing technique has also changed over time, with surfers now pushing their bodies to the limit by performing aerial moves.

Chronic injuries

The research of Mr Furness has identified that, currently, over a third of recreational surfers suffer from chronic injuries, which have been either aggravated by or caused by surfing. The study also reported that, within the last year, surfers who performed aerials were more likely to suffer an injury, with over half of surfers who undertook aerial moves suffering an injury so great it required time off work and/or medical treatment.

Older surfers were identified as being more at risk of sustaining a chronic injury as a result of surfing. Recreational surfers also had a higher number of chronic injuries compared to competitive surfers, with the most common injuries involving the lower back, shoulders and knees.

The lower incidence of injury within the professional surfing subgroup may be due to the likelihood of competitive surfers undertaking additional training to keep conditioned for various surfing events. However, even professionals risk suffering significant injuries, with examples including Gold Coast Surfers Joel Parkinson, previously slicing his heel open, and Mick Fanning, ripping his hamstring.

Preventative measures

The results of Mr Furness’ research further highlights the need for the introduction of preventative measures to be taken by surfers in order to both help in the reduction of current injury rates in the surfing community and to also help keep the sport safe for the next generation of surfers.

In order to assist in preventing injury, surfers should be aware of appropriate surfing etiquette, use the right surfing equipment, be aware of the environment, and also not attempt to perform manoeuvres which are beyond the scope of their fitness level or experience. It is also important to warm up before surfing by performing a general body warm up, followed by stretches, and drinking enough water before and after surfing to avoid dehydration.

If you experience an injury while surfing, you should attend on your doctor of a sports physician, such as a Physiotherapist, to obtain appropriate treatment. While it can be frustrating being out of the water as a result of an injury, any injury – particularly chronic injuries – should not be ignored.

TPD & Income Protection claims

If you are unable to work due to an injury or illness, or if you are continuing to suffer from a chronic injury, which requires time off work, it is important to remember that you may also have access to benefits under your superannuation fund.

To obtain more information about any superannuation benefits you may be entitled to such as TPD and Income Protection as a result of sustaining a significant injury, contact our superannuation team directly on 1800 683 928.