Surfing is a relatively safe sport when compared to others, but the risk of accidents increases with bigger waves and when surfing areas with a coral or rock seabed.
10 tips for avoiding injuries:
- Never dive head first, as you could suffer serious neck injuries if you hit the bottom. Always fall flat in shallow waters.
- Protect your head with your arms until you come to the surface after wiping out.
- Stretch and do thorough warm-ups before each session.
- Try to avoid getting cold or too tired.
- Do functional training or practice yoga / Pilates.
- Do muscle strengthening exercises (back and shoulders).
- Assess the conditions of the sea and whether they are appropriate to your skill level.
- Adapt your kit to the prevailing conditions (for instance use a helmet when surfing over a rock bottom or very shallow waters, a bigger board for bigger waves, and check the condition and length of your leash).
- Respect priority rules.
When paddling out always paddle towards the white water when another surfer is riding the wave.
Most common causes of injuries (Taylor, 2004):
- 50% being hit by board (82% hit by own board and 18% by another surfer’s)
- 32% falling off the board
- 18% hitting the bottom
Instructors at Carcavelos Surf School ensure their students follow the safety rules to avoid accidents, and encourage them to adopt a defensive approach when surfing.