OBJECTIVES: Gradual-onset injuries associated with surfing have not previously been closely examined. This study investigated the duration, mechanisms, body locations and types of gradual-onset injuries in a sample of New Zealand surfers.
DESIGN: Retrospective, cross-sectional online survey.
METHODS: Self-identified surfers reported gradual-onset surfing-related injuries experienced in the preceding 12 months.
RESULTS: Respondents (n=1473, age range 8-74 years) reported a total of 550 gradual-onset major injuries: 44% acute duration (<3 months) and 56% chronic (≥3 months). The injury incidence proportion was 27%. Shoulder (146 injuries, 64% chronic), low back (115 injuries, 58% chronic) and neck (105 injuries, 46% chronic) were the most commonly reported injury locations. Prolonged paddling was the most commonly reported mechanism of injury (40% of all injuries). Incidence proportion for gradual-onset major injuries was 6% higher for greater surfing abilities compared to lower abilities (p=0.01), and 13% higher for long boarders compared to short boarders (p=0.001). Respondents reporting any gradual-onset surfing injury, compared to those with no injury, averaged 3 more years surfing experience (p<0.001), were 3 years older (p<0.001), and reported 43h more surfing exposure in the preceding 12 months (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The most common gradual-onset surfing injuries involved the shoulder, low back, and neck, most frequently attributable to paddling. Risk factors for these injuries included board type, higher ability, older age, more hours/year, and years of surfing. These findings affirm the existence of sufficient injury burden to justify investigation of surfing injury prevention initiatives.