One of the most common surfing injuries is a sprain or tear to the medial collateral ligament at the knee.

The medial collateral ligament (or MCL) runs from the inside edge of your femur to your tibia and functions to prevent the knee from hinging open in the medial direction as well as limit medial rotation.
Surfers most commonly sprain or tear this ligament on their back surfing leg. This is due to the position of the back knee on the board often being tilted and twisted inward. This dangerous knee position is common to see in surfing during various manoeuvres, including:

When shifting weight toward the front foot to increase speed
To crouch down during a bottom turn
Or when squeezing through a small tube
During movement of the back leg through surfing manoeuvres
Sometimes the ligament is injured from external impact such as the wave hitting the surfer. This is common when a tubing wave pinches onto the back of the surfer, compressing the body down through the back leg and hinging the knee open at the MCL.

At other times, the MCL may be injured through the internal forces of the surfer executing a maneuver with the MCL in a vulnerable position.

Ligament sprains and tears are graded in severity from I-III. Minor sprains can resolve within a couple of weeks, however MCL sprains that are grade II and above, require a period of hinged knee bracing and often take more 12-weeks to completely recover with effective Physiotherapy rehabilitation.

MCL injuries can prove debilitating and often indicate a long and slow rehabilitation process before getting back into high performance surfing maneuvers, so our aim is really to prevent them occurring in the first place.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll outline my tips for preventing MCL injuries in surfing.
Thanks to Coast Sport Physiotherapist Brett for preparing this blog. You can find out more about Brett here.

Book an appointment with Brett today by calling (02) 4356 2588 or online via the button below.

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