As far as extreme sports go, surfing is usually pretty safe. This is especially true if you’re working with a qualified instructor and following reasonable precautions. But as with any sport, injuries aren’t impossible. The injuries specific to surfing can be somewhat unique in the sporting world, thanks to the ocean becoming your playing field.

Among surfers, leg injuries are the most common, owing largely to the stress and strain placed on ankles. This is followed by head and face injuries, trunk or back injuries, and shoulder or arm injuries.

A beach injury is no fun. But if you surf at beaches that happen to be near 24 hour walk in clinics, you’ll be in a better position of safety in case injuries happen.

The following is a list of the seven injuries most commonly experienced by surfers, as well as what kinds of injury care might be necessary.

1. Bruises

This is probably the most common kind of injury, and it’s usually mild enough not to require significant attention. Usually all you need is rest and an ice pack. If the bruise is accompanied by swelling and extreme pain, or if it doesn’t improve within two weeks, definitely seek medical attention.

2. Back Pain

Spine injuries are perhaps the most common for surfers. This usually occurs because of a wipeout, but if your back isn’t conditioned to strenuous movement, any sudden shift in your body’s position could cause minor damage. You can reduce your risk of injury with warm-ups and stretching routines. If you experience severe back pain, you need to see a doctor.

3. Shoulder Strain

Thanks to the excessive paddling that surfing involves, stiff and strained shoulders is practically a given. To diminish these effects, make sure you know how to paddle properly and efficiently. And again, never begin surfing without warming up, and stretch after surf sessions to help prevent injury.

4. Lacerations

This is one of the most common injuries a surfer may experience. It’s typically caused by fins and coral reefs. If this happens to you, clean the wound, add sterile compression, and try to hold it above heart-level. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, apply as much pressure as you can and find nearest 24 hour walk in clinics quickly.

5. Head Trauma

Colliding with the ocean floor, underwater rocks, or even your surfboard can cause a plethora of head-related injuries. These can take the form of concussions, spinal fractures, and fractures of the face, jaw, or neck. Any one of these requires immediate medical attention at 24 hour walk in clinics.

6. Eye Damage

Surfboard have sharp tips at the front, which can pose a risk for serious eye damage. Besides placing a nose guard on your surfboard, you should avoid surfing too close to anyone else so you don’t collide with each others’ surfboards. If an accident causes you to lose your sight or bleed from the eye socket, you must seek medical help right away.

7. Sea Creature

While sharks may be every new surfer’s secret nightmare, shark attacks rarely occur. Instead, you’re likely to deal with wounds and stings from jellyfish, stingrays, and sea urchins. You can try treating stings with a mixture of saltwater and vinegar—some lifeguards along beaches keep it with them in spray-bottles. Stingray wounds can be treated with hot water. You can use antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection. If the pain is severe, you might want to see a doctor, even though these injuries usually aren’t serious.

Armed with this information, you’re now prepared to deal with any of the injuries unique to surfing that might occur. As long as you prepare appropriately, follow proper surfing techniques, and avoid pushing yourself past your reasonable limit, any injuries you might face should be minor and can be treated yourself.

Again, try to choose beaches that aren’t too far from 24 hour walk in clinics, so that if the worst does happen, you won’t risk your life trying to get to an emergency room far away.

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