Effects of Surfing on Bone.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Surfing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, with a number of
participants estimated at nearly 40 million worldwide. In Australia, surfing became
popular in the 1950s, and many surfers are now middle-aged or older. As such,
bone-related health issues have become a major concern. Specifically, skeletal
bone health and the bone health of the external auditory canal (EAC) which are
the two main focus areas of this thesis.

It is well-known that aging is associated with loss of bone mass, directly
related to conditions clinically known as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Therefore,
prevention is paramount. Exercise is widely accepted as a non-pharmacological
strategy to reduce the age-related bone deterioration; however, not all types of
exercise are able to contribute to a positive benefit. The first main focus area of
this program of research (Chapters 3 to 5) addresses the relationships between
skeletal bone health and surfing, including water-based exercise in general.
Findings of our studies suggest that male surfers and post-menopausal women
engaged in water-based exercise can potentially decrease the rate of bone
deterioration associated with age.

The bone health of the EAC, the second main focus area of this thesis, is
explored within Chapters 6 to 9. Exostosis of the EAC, popular known as surfer’s
ear, is a common consequence of long-term surfing. However, to date this
pathology has been mainly associated with cold waters, with no studies
investigating surfers exclusively exposed to warm water conditions. Furthermore,
through the literature search (Chapter 2), a discrepancy was found between selfreported
prevalence of the condition and the prevalence found via otoscopic
examination. Our results revealed that exostosis of the auditory canal is prevalent
in individuals exposed to surfing conditions, regardless of water temperature.
Additionally, we found that surfers, although aware of surfer’s ear, are often

This program of research has demonstrated the relationships between
bone health and the sport of surfing. It was found a positive association between
long-term surfing and skeletal bone health, potentially preventing conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. However, surfers are exposed to exostosis of the EAC, regardless of environmental conditions, and effective prevention
methods should be investigated.

Date of Award12 Oct 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRodney Pope (Supervisor), Wayne Hing (Supervisor) & Michael Climstein (Supervisor)

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