Surfing is great way to keep yourself fit, but like any sport, it can also take its toll on your body. You need to look after yourself to ensure you will still be surfing ten, twenty, or even thirty or more years in the future.

You can increase the chances that you will still be surfing in your retirement by making sure that you follow a good training plan. Taking the time to work on balanced muscle strengthening activities in between surf sessions, and making sure that you warm up first and cool down afterwards, can reduce the risk of injury and keep you fit enough to surf.

You should also make sure that you're giving your body enough time to recover after a workout. Many surfers would happily spend all their time in the water, if they could; overtraining can be just as dangerous as jumping straight into a tough surf session without making sure you're fit enough first.
If you surf too hard or work out too often, you can increase your chances of suffering an injury, and even end up risking your health rather than improving it.

Being aware of the kinds of injuries that surfers are prone to experiencing can also help. You can reduce the risk of injury by taking precautions such as avoiding hazardous conditions, shuffling through shallow water to repel any hidden stingrays, and making sure that you use your arms to protect your eyes and face every time you recover from a wipeout.

Make sure that you carry a first aid kit and know how to use it to treat minor sprains, strains and lacerations, which are all common injuries for surfers. Infections are another common problem, with about 40% of surfers having experienced an ear infection at some point.

You can reduce chances of being affected by taking note of any health advisories, keeping out of the water following rain, and regularly drying out your ears with a solution of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol. It is also important to use sun protection to prevent sunburn and to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

A bad injury or illness could have a long-term effect on your ability to surf, particularly if you don't take care of yourself during recovery. That is why it is important to learn how to take care of yourself and to recognize when you need to visit your doctor or a physiotherapist.

If you take the right precautions, train well, and look after your body, you will be on track to enjoy a long life of surfing. There is no reason why you shouldn't still be enjoying surfing, even after you head into retirement and find yourself with all the time you need to enjoy the waves.

Words by Helen Barber.