CALLING ALL SURFERS: Bond University's Doctor of Physiotherapy student James Furness wants to hear your tale of surfing woe via an online survey researching the types of injuries associated with Australia’s most popular sport.
With an estimated two million recreational and competitive surfers and a history that now spans almost a hundred years, James says it is surprising how little research has been conducted into what is widely regarded as Australia’s national obsession.
“The few studies that have been done into surf-related injuries tend to focus on acute trauma related injuries,” he said.
“As a physiotherapist and a passionate surfer, I’ve seen plenty of acute and chronic injuries – both my patients and my own! – that don’t necessarily warrant surgery or even medical treatment but that can still be debilitating.”
Working with Bond’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, James is aiming to create a comprehensive national snapshot of all surfing-related injuries using an online survey, with a particular focus on chronic injuries.
“Ultimately, the goal is to develop screening procedures so we can identify the areas of risk for surfers, based on factors like their age, body type and surfing style,” he said.
“In order to do this, we need surfers to give us feedback on what sort of acute and chronic injuries they’ve sustained, how those injuries have been treated and what, if any, long-term effects they may have had.
“I have had a great response from the industry so far, but am keen to hear from more people. Surfing Queensland, Surfing Australia and the Hurley High Performance Centre are all in support of the study,” he said.
James needs at least 2000 surfers for the first stage of the project which is a simple online survey that will help to build up an overall picture.
“We want to hear from surfers of all ages – both recreational and competitive – who have had at least one year of surfing experience,” he said.
“You don’t necessarily need to have suffered an injury. We can learn just as much from those who have remained injury free as those who have experienced problems.”
The second phase of the study will be to bring eligible participants into the state-of-the-art water-based research unit soon to be based at the new Bond Institute of Health and Sport Building at Skilled Park, Robina for a full musculoskeletal assessment.
This will also include a surf specific fitness assessment to determine individual indicators such as paddle fitness (VO2max) and power, as well as an overview of body muscle/fat composition.
“In addition to helping us build a comprehensive database of injuries and risk prevention strategies, individual participants in this second phase of the project will be advised about strategies to prevent and treat surf-related injuries, based on their individual risk factor – all at no charge,” said James.
“As such, it could be one of the best investments they will ever make in their own long-term surfing fitness and wellness.”
The stage one surveys can be filled out online. Participants can remain anonymous or fill in their contact details if they are interested in being considered for the individual assessments in the project’s second phase.