Like any other sport, water sports can cause joint pain, concussions, fractures and other injuries. Learn how you can prevent injury and still have fun.

Whether you’re water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, paragliding, kite surfing or jet skiing, water sports can be a blast. But it’s important to know the risks involved and how to prevent them.

Common injuries from water sports

Water skiing, wakeboarding and inner tubing all involve hydroplaning behind a boat while pulled by a cable. A study compared injuries from these three water sports and identified that wakeboarding- and tubing-related injuries most often affect the head and neck, while water-skiing injuries cause strain or sprain to the knees, shoulders and ankles. High-speed sports such as jet skiing, surfing and kite-boarding have potential for impact with a board and can cause concussions and fractures.

Specialized treatments for such injuries are available at the USC Sports Medicine Center, which is part of USC Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC.

Steps to prevent common water sports injuries

Some injuries are preventable. Here are a few precautions you can take:

Stretch – Treat water sports like any other sport and warm up before you take the plunge. Stretching increases your range of motion and prevents injury and muscle strains.

Water Safety – Wear a life jacket when you are on or in the water. Even the best swimmers can become fatigued and get into trouble. Most people know that a life jacket is required when riding in a boat or on a jet ski, but the U.S Coast Guard has determined that stand up paddle boards also are vessels, meaning if they are operated outside of a swimming or surfing area,they now require life jackets.

Know your limits – Like all sports, water skiing, wakeboarding, kite boarding and surfing all take skill, stamina and practice. Take it slow and step up the intensity as you are ready.

Wear a helmet – Depending on the sport, you’ll want to wear a helmet to avoid head injury. A head injury on the water is no less serious than one on land.

Take a break – If you have an injury or a muscle strain, back off the intensity so that your injury has time to heal.

If you have a sports-related injury, the orthopaedic surgeons at Keck Medicine of USC can develop a treatment plan that is right for you. We treat everyone from weekend warriors to professional athletes.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and looking for exceptional care from some of the top orthopaedic surgeons in the world, schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting

By Heidi Tyline King