Call for surfers to participate in injury survey

Date: 23/03/2009

Surfing has the image of a healthy outdoor sport, but over time the toll on surfers' bodies can be high. Now a new national survey aims to identify the injuries experienced by surfers as the first step to making the sport kinder on the bodies of thousands of Australian surfers.

Margaret Plag, a Masters student in the University of Western Sydney School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, will survey 150 surfers to determine the incidence, severity and outcomes of acute and chronic injuries from surfing.

"Most surfers don't know how to safely exercise and prepare their bodies for their sport. In fact, many probably just go surfing. There's a great physical and emotional satisfaction from surfing, but long term it's also potentially very damaging to your body," says Ms Plag, who has been a keen surfer for five years.

Participants in the survey - the most detailed surfing injury study to be conducted in Australia - will complete a retrospective questionnaire about their surfing habits and health over the last 12 months.

"Anecdotally, the list of injuries surfers report is varied from the acute injuries of cuts, bruises and broken bones to chronic lower back pain and damaged knees," says Ms Plag.

"The causes of the chronic problems are much more difficult to pinpoint and require detailed study so grommets - young surfers - can take early action to prevent long term damage.

"Older surfers can experience chronic shoulder problems requiring reconstructive surgery. This may be caused by years of paddling the board past the breakers and searching for a wave," says Ms Plag.

"About 60 per cent of the time 'surfing' is actually spent paddling which forces the body to work in an unnatural posture - potentially increasing wear and tear," she says.

"Years of surfing five days a week for one to two hours at a time can quickly add up to thousands of hours of paddling and other damaging repetitive movements."

Ms Plag's study will focus on identifying the most common chronic injuries as a critical first step to devising ways for surfers to avoid long term damage.

Those interested in participating in the study with three or more years surfing experience and aged 18 to 50 years should contact 0404 011 681 or email:

Once recruited to the trial the survey can be completed online or via hard copy in the mail.



Senior Media Officer

Paul Grocott
02 9678 7083, 0406 429 304