Injury Prevention

So you’re paddling in the sound. It’s shallow over here and it’s deep over there. The wind has picked up and the waves are getting big and breaking in the shallows. You look to your right and a good sized wave is about to broadside you. Do you try to brace into it? Brace away from it? Go straight to set up position and roll up after it passes? My instincts tell me the bigger the wave is the safer it is to just roll. I hear about folks getting shoulder dislocations and I want no part of that. Any opinions out there?

mostly brace into the wave
I try my best to simply avoid being right where a large wave is about to break (before or after being okay). But in general I would brace into the wave. I don’t have experience with breaking waves bigger than about six feet but otherwise I’m not too concerned about injury because I keep my brace pretty low (even if doing a high brace). I’ve had a couple cases where I practically laid sideways into the wave due to the size then rode the wave okay (bouncing all the way :)).

Would you expect the shoulder
dislocation risk to occur while you are bracing into the wave? I’ve done too little with ocean waves, though there are rapids where it is necessary to brace into waves as high as my head. But those waves aren’t moving toward me.

turn in
Turn into it, if time allows

Wait to see what happens if not. Often they take a while to break, so it may actually roll under me.

If it is definitely breaking on me, I would brace into it (sticking the blade into the wave). This would prepare me for the side surf fun.

You said there was shallow areas, so it isn’t clear if a roll wouldn’t end up sticking your head into sand/submerged objects.

it all depends…

– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 10:42 AM EST –

If it's broken and there's a foam pile, probably brace ansd sidesurf. If there's a big green wall about to fall on my head, duck & tuck. If it's smaller or earlier, brace or try to punch through/over.

Elbows down, elbows down, elbows down...

Elbows down…
Elbows down, elbows down. – Good advice!!

Many Thanks
Elbows down it is.

Ask some coaches/instructors …
What I have been taught over the last year was absolutely no high braces, low braces only. It’s very hard for elbows down on low braces. Sometimes things/standards/ideas change - for better or worse. Check out what is being taught now and why, then make your own decision.



How big is a “good sized” wave?

– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 10:59 PM EST –

Throw your self on the pillow. If it is going to take you out throw your self into the wave with a low brace, elbows down, paddle out in front of you, slam your body onto the wave and make it slap, your body will bounce off and work a bit like a sea anchor and you pop up side surfing. I have a full helmet with ear protection. This can really hurt if you do it with a bare head. If the wave does not have a lot of juice, you can risk a high brace, if you know your limits. If it is really big and is going to unload on top of you, get a really good breath of air and turn turtle, facenear the deck, padded against your arm, paddle in the set up position, as you are getting thrashed and dragged to the beach, stick your paddle up into the wave, feel for some resistance and roll up. If my head is whacking the bottom I usually pull the pin, but you an get hurt worse half stuck in your boat and getting pummeled.