The common misconception is that surfing is a non-demanding relaxing water sport. Usually not the first activity you think of when you hear the phrase “sports injury”. As a passionate surfer myself, I understand the biomechanics around surfing and believe this sport to be both demanding and strenuous on the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular system.
Surfing is a fast growing industry where sadly the work of a podiatrist is overlooked. The Podiatrists at SOLE THERAPY really help athletes that train barefoot. We love helping people stay active and live a life they love. We specialize in assessing functional movement patterns and getting a client stronger after an injury has occured. We help our clients be in a stronger and more aligned position so they can perform at their best.
According to studies published in strength and conditioning journals it was reported that about 40% of injuries in surfing occur in the lower extremities and approximately 15-20% occur in the ankle and foot. This incidence rate almost doubles in large surf and reef conditions.
Surfers are athletes, and therefore the lower limb plays a big part not only in the water but also during training on the land. When surfing, the lower limb goes through a wide range of motion, which requires the lower extremities to fully compress and extend. At the same time, however, they need to be able to resist many high forces. Airs, big drops, vertical turns, and even wipeouts all require a fair amount of strength, balance, and flexibility.
“The role of a podiatrist in surfing is not just limited to biomechanical management and injury prevention – the removal of coral reef as a foreign body and suturing foot injuries are other procedures we can conduct. Tinea (athletes foot), Fungal Nails, & Plantar Warts are also common conditions we can treat” Nicole Reilly (Founder SOLE THERAPY)
Here are a few tips to keep surfers safe, injury free and more importantly in the water!
The ankle, calf, hamstrings and glutes need to be able to have a good range of motion to allow the surfer to get into a variety of positions. The foot also needs to be ready to move with the board in a mixture of inverted and everted positions. A full body dynamic warm-up is recommended. This may include arm swings and rotations, squats,walking lunges, lateral lunges, toe raises, pop ups, inverted hamstring stretches.
Balance workouts for surfing should be exercised both bilaterally and unilaterally. Include single leg depth jumps, movements on a balance board/bosu ball while mixing in rotations into your work-out. Barefoot work to improve balance is encouraged. A good indicator of good balance is the ability to stand on one leg for 3 minutes and performing this exercise eyes closed for 30 seconds.
Lower limb and core strength are essential to surfing and can be enhanced through a variety of power, strength and surf-specific exercises. It is recommended to perform some exercises barefoot to mimic the situation on a surfboard. While others such heavy lifting should be executed in good and stable lifting shoes.
HEALTH AND HYGIENE WHEN OUT OF THE WATER
Walking barefoot in areas like communal outdoor showers can expose the surfer to infections like fungal nails, Tinea and plantar warts. It is advised to wear thongs in and out of bathrooms and in wet areas when showering the salt off the body. Going barefoot without having strong arches and wearing non supportive footwear can pre expose the surfer to ball of foot, heel pain and calf strain.
Come and see us for an individualised posture and biomechanical assessment and improve your surfing today.