Skip to comments.Study: Surfing Safer Than Soccer, Basketball
Posted on 01/03/2007 5:53:58 AM PST by ShadowDancer
Study: Surfing Safer Than Soccer, Basketball
Soccer, Basketball Players Harmed More Than Surfers
POSTED: 12:55 pm EST January 2, 2007
Surfing: Is it really safer than soccer? A new study says it is.
While public perception may frame surfing as a dangerous sport, the new research begs to differ. In the first study of its kind, researchers have computed the rate of injury among competitive surfers and found they are less likely to be harmed than collegiate soccer or basketball players, according to a press release.
"We found that competitive surfing has a relatively low risk of injury -- 6.6 significant injuries per 1,000 hours of surfing -- compared to other sports for which comparable data is available," said lead author Dr. Andrew Nathanson, an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island Hospital's Injury Prevention Center. "However, the risk of injury more than doubled when surfing in large waves or over an area with a hard bottom."
Since the '60s, surfing has grown in popularity. But there is little information about actual surfing injuries.
Nathanson and his research team collected injury data from 32 surfing contests worldwide, including professional and amateur events. The groups documented every acute surfing injury suffered during competition, as well as wave size, mechanism of injury and treatment.
"Significant" injuries were qualified as those that prevented the surfer from surfing for one or more days, resulted in a hospital visit, or required on-site suturing.
"Sprains and strains to the lower extremities, particularly the knees, were found to be the most common injuries reported. This is likely due to the aggressive turning and aerial maneuvers, which score highly in competitions, but also appear to place high stress on a surfer's knee," Nathanson said.
He is also an emergency physician at The Miriam Hospital and an assistant professor at Brown Medical School, both in Providence, R.I.
Previous studies conducted by Nathanson researching the injuries of recreational surfers found that lacerations and contusions were the most common reported injury. In those studies, sprains and strains to the lower extremities were the second most common injury among contest surfers.
Most of these injuries were caused by direct contact between a surfer and a -- either their own or another surfer's.
"The fact that cuts were found to be less common among surfers during a competition makes sense since it's a more controlled environment compared to a recreational surfing-type atmosphere. In competitions, there are a limited number of surfers in the water during each heat and the skill level is very high. On the other hand, recreational surfers are often trying to catch waves in a dense crowd of surfers of varying abilities," said Nathanson.
The authors said that even though age and gender had no bearing on the injury rate, wave size and bottom type, independently, were significantly associated with a great chance of injury.
Nathanson said the injury rate more than doubles when surfing in larger surf (overhead) compared to smaller waves, as the energy of waves increases as it grows in height. He also said that a sea floor with a sandy bottom is much more forgiving upon impact than one covered with reefs or rocks.
The research said that that establishing an injury rate for surfing is not just of academic or general interest, but also has implications for the insurance industry and for schools that may want to start a surfing team.
"The information could also help to predict the needs of medical staff support at contests and aid in the design of safer surfboards and protective equipment such as helmets," Nathanson adds.
To reduce the risk of injury while surfing, Nathanson suggested good physical fitness, seeking local knowledge before paddling out to an unfamiliar break, and being realistic in terms of your ability level and the size of the waves, according to a press release.
The researchers said that further study will be needed to determine if the injury rate for recreational surfers can be evaluated and to evaluate effectiveness of modifications in surfing equipment on reducing the incidence of injury.
Led by researchers at Rhode Island Hospital and Brown Medical School, the findings of the study are published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The study was funded by the University Emergency Medicine Foundation.
Hey, those waves on the Detroit River can be killer, dude.
Pipeline on Oahu's North shore features huge waves that break over shallow water onto a lava reef. .....a bit more dangerous that soccer, to say the least.
(Good luck on the skin cancer, btw).
Sore nipples from the Dewey Weber was all I could remember.
I have my doubts about such "surveys". It is somewhat like that thing about 'driving in a car on the road being riskier than being in an airplane in the sky'.
I mean, what are the chances of surviving a mishap while surfing, versus a mishap while playing basketball/baseball?
I'm sure one gets to make a lot more mistakes while playing the latter two games than while surfing, to end up dead.
Yeah, sure. Maybe it is for those who like to sit way inside and play in the soup.
For others though....
Even this is ineffective at convincing some folks to get out of the water.
I was quite a teen surfer in Hawaii and have seen, first-hand, that same situation i.e., a school of sharks through the in-shore waves!
Needless to say, we all surfed, carefully, clear to the beach on the next set!!
In five years, tho', our 'gang', nor I, ever experienced an actual attack out there. Just the occasional jelly fish sting....
If the seal numbers increased some of us would make our way to shore or find another spot. Most of the guys never cared. Every couple of years someone gets chomped in the Santa Cruz area because they didn't have enough sense to not surf in water filled with seals.
Hawaii has the most and best big wave sites in the country. However, Mavericks is a must see when the north swell is in. The water is ice cold, shallow with rocks and filled with sharks. A 10 foot swell will jack up to 25 feet without any warning. I never miss a chance to get down there when I'm on the west coast.
Hawaii spoiled me rotten. I entered the '62 Makaha Championships but didn't quite make it to the finals. Happy to have made it as far as I did tho'. 25ft waves that week!
North Shore (Haleiwa) almost drowned me several times - that 'pipeline' closes up fast!! It, was, however, a favorite.
We moved back to N.Cal , but the Monterey/Santa Cruz water temperature, even wet-suit clad, rather, ummm, cooled my passion for the sport. I'd become a warm-water kinda wimp!!
As much as I enjoy watching those waves, my self preservation instinct always kept me from surfing there. I remember those rocks taking Mark Foo like it was yesterday.
Hawaii spoiled me rotten. I entered the '62 Makaha Championships but didn't quite make it to the finals.
Damn! You must have known Greg Knoll. What a character he is. My first board was a Knoll. It was so big it took two of us to carry it. Those must have been heady times.... before the sport got discovered.
North Shore (Haleiwa) almost drowned me several times - that 'pipeline' closes up fast!!
I wish I could say that I've been there and done that. I knew a couple of talented (and cocky) surfers in Santa Barbara who were humbled by the pipeline. They always talked about how incredible the speed was...never experienced anything like it. One ruptured an eardrum and was never the same. Closest I've ever come to that was a reef break off the coast of Legian beach in Bali. Must have been 14-16 feet and very hollow. I should have drowned that day. I was picking pieces of coral out of my skin for months.
We moved back to N.Cal , but the Monterey/Santa Cruz water temperature, even wet-suit clad, rather, ummm, cooled my passion for the sport
LOL! I guess you'd know all about Mavericks then. I was thinking that you still lived in Hawaii. I'd never be able to manage the water either these days and would probably be the guy sitting inside with the long board. Twenty-five years and twenty five pounds ago, long before knee surgery or back pain, it was a different story. I could have done pretty good in school if I hadn't spent so much time at Hollister Ranch, El Capitan and, occasionally, Rincon. I've been up your way a few times (Steamer Lane?) and Carmel but found that the "locals only" attitude was more pronounced there than in So. Cal. The water was colder as well.
Now I'm on the gulf coast of Florida where the water is always warm but you'll never see a wave. That's too bad because I'd like my boys to learn while they're young. It would also give me a good reason to get back in the water and get back into shape. :^)