How Dangerous Is Wakeboarding?

wakeboarding injuries

wakeboarding injuries

Wakeboarding is when a person is towed across the water on a rectangular board with bindings or a rope attached to it. The wakeboard can be towed by a motorboat, a closed-loop cable system, a winch or a personal water boat. Wakeboarding is part of the Summer Games in many countries, and many competitions are organised in different localities around the UK by volunteers, member groups and wakeboarding centres.

Although there is a chance of physical injury while wakeboarding, there is evidence to suggest that such accidents can be avoided and in most instances, wakeboarding can actually be quite beneficial for both your physical and mental wellbeing.

Common Wakeboarding Injuries

most common wakeboarding injuries

Head

Head and neck lacerations, as well as a concussion, are common injuries in wakeboarding. When plunged into the sea, the greatest impact is always on the head. Rupturing the ear from a sudden fall and taking a blow to the head is also a common injury to wakeboarding.

Arm

shoulder displacement and arm contusions, abrasions, sprains, strains and fractures are common injuries to wakeboarders.

Back/Trunk

Fractures, bruises, strains, sprains, lower back pain and rib injuries are common wakeboard injuries.

Injury Statistics

The most common injuries to wakeboarders occur in the head and face, arms, back and trunk, and legs. There are significantly more males than females involved in wakeboarding, but the form of injuries suffered by males and females is comparable. About 25 percent of injuries are lacerations, 11 percent are concussions, 10 percent are ankle sprains, 5 per cent are fractures of the spine, and 5 percent are dislocations of the arm. There is no substantial difference in injury occurrence at various skill levels. However, the forms of injury vary with increased skill and attempt to perform twists and tricks.

Risk Factors

Current evidence of particular risk factors in wakeboarding is extremely poor. Potential risk factors for wakeboarding accidents include the environment, equipment, level of experience, education and health.

Environment

Bad weather and water conditions or wakeboarding in restricted areas are a risk factor for injuries.

Level of Experience

Wakeboarders at all grades get hurt. Novice wakeboarders are most commonly injured when submerged during take-off, while pro / advanced and intermediate wakeboarders are most often injured as a result of falling. ACL tears are more often sustained by intermediate wakeboarders, followed by advanced wakeboarders, with the least ACL tears recorded among novice wakeboarders.

Boat Operator Knowledge

The lack of expertise, ability, training or experience on behalf of the vessel operator is a risk factor for injury to wakeboarding. Operators should be informed about the required speed and acceleration of the vessel.

Equipment

Failure to wear protective equipment, such as a life jacket or personal flotation device, a helmet and a wet or drysuit, can increase the risk of injury.

Wakeboarder Education

New wakeboarders could be at higher risk of injury if they are not adequately trained in techniques to get out of the water, simple hand signals to communicate with the spotter, tactics to reduce the force of the tow rope and the importance of letting the rope go as they fall.

Fitness

Poor fitness is a risk of injury, as wakeboarding needs upper body strength to maintain balance and posture.

How Can I Prevent Injury?

how to prevent wakeboarding injuries

Some muscle pain or joint pain is anticipated when you increase your physical activity. It’s important to listen to your body for chronic or worsening pain and to know when to relax. Learn more on how to avoid accidents while wakeboarding.

Speak to your coach or group, if appropriate, about the preventive techniques below and how they could be integrated into training and policies.

Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

Ensure that you warm up before you participate in wakeboarding; many wakeboarders switch from sedentary roles as boat drivers or spotters to wakeboard without exercise. Dryland conditioning is useful for strength training; ‘wakeboarding into form’ will increase the risk of injury. Other advantages of dry land conditioning include correction of muscle imbalances, regeneration of weakened muscles and joints, and minimisation of loss of strength during the off-season.

Specific Wakeboarding Strength and Conditioning Exercises

Strength and conditioning programs should discuss posture performance, balance, and wakeboard stability. Consider learning more about how to integrate these exercises into your workouts:

Tandem squats and tandem deadlifts will improve stability.

Torso rotations, supine boards, prone boards, and side bridges tone the trunk muscles.

Other popular strength training exercises include wall slides, sitting rows and pull-ups.

Sports Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training

The risk of all lower-body injuries can be decreased by up to 50 per cent by daily participation in a resistance training program such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

The Sports Injury Prevention Research Center has developed a warm-up neuromuscular training program that can be applied to a wide variety of sports. Incorporating a warm-up routine like this one into the workout regimen at least twice a week has been correlated with a major reduction in lower-body injuries.

Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training

Adopt strength training techniques aimed to avoid injury. The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center has developed exercises that explicitly help keep the shoulder healthy and minimise the risk of injuries to the shoulders and ankles.

Managing Concussion

Concussions are a common injury when wakeboarding. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion and to know what to do when suspecting a concussion. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for learners and parents to learn more about how to recognise, avoid and treat a concussion. CATT also provides information on how to respond to a possible concussion situation, as well as comprehensive Return to School and Return to Sport protocols.

Other Considerations

Ensure the equipment is in good working order. Wakeboards should be suitable for your body weight and height. Wear protective clothing, such as a wet or drysuit, to minimise the risk of multiple skin abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions, since these are the most common forms of injuries suffered while wakeboarding. In addition, wear a life jacket and a helmet. Choosing a tow rope with plastic and/or foam coating may also reduce the risk of injury. Caution should be taken when collecting bindings, as wakeboard bindings are worn extremely tightly, and some form of lubricant or soap may be needed.

The feet are firmly attached to the board with an unforgiving release technique that may cause problems during the fall. In addition, if these straps are loosely worn, one foot may fall out of the strap while the other remains in, creating a dangerous circumstance where the wakeboard is hard to manage.

Education

If you’re new to wakeboarding, take lessons from a reputable school. Be aware of the measures about protection and the appropriate technique. Know how to evaluate both water and weather conditions before entering the water and be mindful of low and high tide times where appropriate.

Sleep, Vigilance and Sports Injury Prevention

Successful physical activity requires a high level of alertness, also known as vigilance. Adequate sleep helps your body recover, allows you to achieve your goals, and reduces your chance of injury. Having less than 8 hours of sleep will increase up to 70 percent of your injury risk!

Sport-related Physicals

Wakeboarding can be a physically challenging sport, and some pre-existing conditions can increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical assessment that ensures participation in fitness can help reduce the risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports are, why they may be appropriate, and where you can go to get them.