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Surfing Safety Tips

Surfer wading ashore

Not only is surfing a lot of fun, it’s a complete body workout; the paddling engages your upper body muscles and you use your lower body muscles to control the board while riding. The benefits of surfing include:

-Cardiovascular conditioning
-Muscle strengthening
-Shoulder/core/back and leg strengthening

Marc Friedman, surfer and physical therapist, provides a few simple tips to catch the waves safely:

1. Check the forecast: Wind, wave height, currents and riptides all play a huge part in your surfing environment. Don’t get caught by surprise – always check the surfing forecast before you head into the water.

2. Warm-up: All surfers are in a hurry to get in the water, but a good warm-up is critical to help your body transition from land to surf. Just five minutes of light jogging in place and some static stretching of the shoulders, arms, wrists, hips and ankles will do it.

3. Be ready to tread: It may sound obvious, but strong treading water and swimming skills are vital for safety when you surf. If you lose your board, you’ll need to be able to tread water for as long as it takes to get a hold of it and get back on.

4. Be aware of your surroundings: Keep an eye out for surfaces like sand beds, rocks, jetties, piers and reef, not to mention other surfers to avoid injury.

5. Protect your skin: Not only are surfers continuously exposed to the elements, but the reflection off of the water intensifies the sun’s rays. Sunscreens with waterproof 30+ SPF and zinc oxide are the best to protect your skin. Protective clothing such as rash guards, hats and swim suits with UVA/UVB protection are also recommended.

6. Eat and drink like a surfer: Hydration and nutrition play a big role when surfing for hours on end. Drink plenty of water or fluids that contain electrolytes before and after you surf. Eat a high protein meal afterwards to help your muscles repair themselves after all that paddling. A high-protein, low-fat diet that includes fruits with high potassium, like bananas, is the best choice for a surfer.

Most of all clear your mind, have fun and enjoy the scenery.

Updated on March 16, 2020

Marc Friedman, physical therapist

Marc Friedman is an Acute Care manager at HSS Rehabilitation and an avid surfer with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.