Being an ‘action sport’, surf-related injuries are something we’ll all encounter somewhere along the line – some more often than others, and one of the most common areas to be effected by a bad wipeout or heavy landing are our knees. Boland ripper and Biokineticist Phil Nel has seen his fair share of surf-related knee injuries make their way through his practice, and below he explains in more detail just how our knees work and what we can do to strengthen them to avoid those lengthy dry spells while recovering from injury.
The act of surfing on a wave is one of the most dynamic sports on the planet, where we have three variables moving in different given directions – wave, board and surfer. Compare this to another sport, say gymnastics, where the body only interacts with fixed objects in a static environment. If you add the other natural variables of wind, water chop, currents and boils to this ocean mix, then you start to understand the true meaning of ‘dynamic’.
Over the past decade the act of surfing has literally leapt in progress. Hang Tens have been replaced with full rotation airs, and instead of simply charging triple overhead surf, adrenalin seeking surfers are now focussing on double-overhead steps on 3-storey waves. No wonder surfing related injuries are on the rise!
A knee is a hinge joint (with some rotation) that basically uses extensor muscles (Quadriceps) and flexor muscles (Hamstrings) to move the knee. The core and ankle muscles also offer very important stabilisation to the knee. The major ligaments of the knee can be torn in isolation, or in combination. The force and angle of the trauma will determine the extent of the injury. Often, the Meniscus (Cartilage) also tears with enough force.