July 15, 2009

Surgeons: Measure before diving

U.S. orthopedic surgeons say divers need to ensure the depth of a body of water is double the distance of the height from which they are diving.

For example, to dive from a cliff or high point 8 feet above the water, it is necessary to make sure the bottom of the body of water -- including any rocks, boulders or other impediments -- is at least 16 feet under water, members of the American Association of Orthopaedic surgeons say.

The surgeons also advise only one person at a time stand on a diving board. A diver should dive only off the end of the board, not run on the board, not bounce more than once, not try to dive far out and immediately move away from the board to make room for the next diver.

Swimming, the surgeons say, is a great form of exercise that builds endurance and muscle strength. However, the most common swimming injury is shoulder pain due to repetitive motion. The best way to prevent this is with a general exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and upper back, the surgeons say.

The doctors advise refraining from body surfing near the shore since this activity results in many cervical spine injuries -- some resulting in quadriplegia -- as well as shoulder dislocations and humeral fractures.