Surf Specific Physical Testing & Injury Screening

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Isabella Nichols

State U14 champion and Hive Swimwear teamrider Isabella Nichols has just started with Peter Hogg and is already reaping rewards.

Before setting up a fitness program it is of value to assess potential risk factors for injury and create a baseline for fitness reassessment.
 In other words, check for the most likely surf related problems, check out your pre-existing injuries and test your current fitness level.

There are many ways to do this which makes the whole process quite daunting for the avid surfing enthusiast who really does want to improve or pay more attention to these areas. Peter Hogg who has over 20 years of elite sports contract work including professional involvement at four Olympics has listed some of the important aspects to focus on.

The most common surfing injuries actually involve fin chops and collisions with the sand so these may be difficult to avoid other than being careful of others and working within your surfing capability.

Intrinsic surfing injuries are those non traumatic injuries that often occur as a direct result of the sport or related training. The most common intrinsic surfing injuries involve the neck (surfers neck), shoulders (swimmers shoulder), knees (medial ligament strain) or the spine.

The requirements of surfing can be broken into physiological units (cardio, strength, power, etc.) or physical areas such as joint flexibility, strength, balance, shock absorption, etc.. Peter focuses on a combination of repeatable tests that encompass a combination of these prerequisites. The outcome is that injuries can often be predicted and weak areas can be highlighted. Testing yourself also allows for you to retest which will show you whether your program is working or not.

Remember: "We do most of what we like best. We are best at what we do most. We need most of we do least"

A complete musculo-skeletal testing by a competent Sports Physiotherapist actually takes about 1.5 hours and is a special skill of Sports Physiotherapists.

As an overview Peter has highlighted some key areas to assess.
1. Flexibility of your shoulders and upper back - "Combined elevation test" - To be engaged in overhead sport you should be able to lie face down and lift your arms whilst straight with wrist above the level of the back of your head. Adequate flexibility relates to reduced swimmer's shoulder or shoulder tendon impingement.Combined Extension test

2. Strength of your back - "Biering Extension Test" - Whilst strapped to a bed, a strong athlete can hold this position for over 3 minutes without experiencing back pain or excessive fatigue. Deficits can impact on padding posture which can ultimately affect the neck and shoulders.biering test

3. Leg strength and alignment - "Single decline squat test" - A single leg squat will demonstrate your quads and hip control. If you cannot squat beyond 90 degrees with control and straight alignment your shock absorption skills may be letting you down and knee injury is more likely. With reference to surfing, this has impact on the bottom turn and landing from ‘floaters’.

leg squat

4. Balance - "Eyes closed Bess score" - It useful to test your balance over 20 secs on an unstable surface (ie.foam mat). Count how many postural corrections you require to highlight your balance. Train it up and retest at a later date to avoid knee and ankle injuries or to reduce falls

.Isabella nichols

5. Trunk Rotation Strength - Medicine ball rotations on Swiss Ball - The ability to perform quick controlled weighted rotation over 20 seconds can be directly related to surfing manouvre skill including cutback proficiency


These are only a few tests of a battery of 40 tests that Peter Hogg performs with elite Hive Swimwear teamriders in the quest to improve fitness and prevent injury.

Peter Hogg by Peter Hogg
APA Titled Sports Physiotherapist, Hive Swimwear- Marketing Director, 
Noosa Sports and Spinal Physiotherapist, Principal 
Olympic Sports Physiotherapist 2000,2002,2006,2010.

Ph: (07) 5449 0024
Fax: (07) 5449 7774
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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