Overview of ongoing projects

Active Studies

Today’s Research Tomorrow’s Standards

SMI Research plays an important role in improving human understanding of Surfing medicine and physiology and, in turn, shaping Surf safety guidelines to make the sport safer for everyone.

SMI research department leads several in-house studies and oversees studies at collaborating universities and institutions. As a nonprofit organization, SMI has become a unique hub for a wide network of Surfing Medicine researchers

If you are curious what SMI researchers and collaborators are working on, view the below the active studies

Prevalence of Degenerative Cervical Spine Disease in Surfers 

There has been a noticeable increase in the number of patients needing cervical spine surgery who have previously surfed. However, the data regarding the prevalence and pathological correlation of degenerative spine disease within this population is very sparse. Therefore, this study aims to look into the prevalence of this condition within the greater surfing community and possible correlations with other conditions 

Lead Investigator: Stephen Kalhorn MD

Fill in the survey here: link to the survey

Global Surfer Survey

Are you a surfer? And by surfer, we mean boardrider, bodyboarder, bodysurfer and more! If so we’d like you to help us know more about surfers around the world by spending 15 minutes or so filling out this important anonymous survey. This research study is all about understanding who surfers are, how long they’ve been surfing, how often they surf, and what their opinions are about coastal and environmental issues. We are also very interested in the role surfers play by rescuing people in trouble in the surf. We think surfers have a lot to offer to society and the results of this survey will help us tell their story.

The survey has been created by the Beach Safety Research Group at UNSW Sydney with support from Surfing NSW and we want to make it global. Please help us by spreading the word and sharing this link!

English Survey

Spanish Survey

French Survey

Portuguese Survey

Aging & Surfing

There is an increasing number of studies investigating surfing and their impact on human health and wellbeing. However, there is a gap for people of 60 years and older. It was found that it is not because one gets older that the desire for surfing will decline, quite the opposite, as the number of surfers above 60 years old is growing. 

Surfing benefits for health and wellbeing include greater sense of achievement in life, better neuromuscular reaction in steadiness tests and improved bone health in older surfers, but there are risks and barriers too. To explore these findings this study will interview older surfers to listen to their surfing story; to analyze their perspectives about the positive and negative impact of surfing in an older age; and to identify the needs and actions to overcome barriers to engage in surfing.

Lead investigator: Sofia Casal Silva



Survey Surfing Injuries Artificial Wave environment

With surfing gaining popularity, and in the search of the perfect wave, more and more wave parks are emerging. In wave parks, waves are generated in a pool allowing surfers to surf on demand. Surfers spend more time on waves, and less time surfing, posing new risks for possible injuries. This survey assesses injuries obtained in wave pools, comparing these with recent numbers from both wave surfing and river surfing.

Investigators: Dr Ognjen Markovic, Dr Eline Thijsen,Dr Constatin Reiber, Dr Jennifer Straatman

Global survey: the influence of Covid-19 pandemic on Surf Lifesaving and Search & Rescue

This study aims to identify possible changes and challenges in the work of Surf Lifesavers and rescue crews during the covid-19 pandemic

Lead investigator: Frederike Bensch, MD

Get involved with science!

Join as an affiliate to attend research webinars and connect with authors of studies. Get involved as surf school/resort or performance centre to do more research and contribute to Surfer’s Health.

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