Author Topic: Do helmets lead to neck problems?  (Read 6933 times)

zacksc

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Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« on: January 30, 2022, 03:02:38 PM »
For SUP surfing in like 3 to 8 foot waves, I am thinking of starting to wear a helmet. The upside as I see it is some protection against loosing consciousness due to a reef or board impact. The potential downside I am wondering about is neck strain. When you are getting washed around after a fall or when caught inside and trying to get under waves, do helmets tend to lead to neck issues? The specific helmet I am thinking of is the Gath SFC, which is light weight, but I wonder if, when you are in a breaking wave if the extra size on your head could lead to problems? Anyone with experience or thoughts about that? Thanks very much! I really appreciate the comments here. Are there other downsides to helmet wearing while wave riding?

Dwight (DW)

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2022, 03:39:35 PM »
Gath is fine. You can duck dive and not even know itís there. Super thin, designed for surfing.

surfcowboy

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2022, 08:27:38 PM »
No. This is misinformation from people who don't want to wear helmets speculating.

My favorite Progression Project podcast is where Erik tried to start that with the guy who rides airchairs and he shuts him down 100%.

No telling how many head injuries have been caused by this BS. If you're going fast enough to get your neck tweaked the danger of concussion is far higher.

I have no sources, neither does anyone making the counter argument. But helmets are proven to prevent head injuries and that's well documented. Need more evidence? Wake boarders go faster than any surfer west of Nazare.

If this was an issue, Gath would either make a neck brace or be out of business. Think about it. Dozens of surf and water helmets. No water neck braces.

To the original poster, this isn't aimed at you. I just hate that this stuff got ever spread.

I need to buy a helmet. I'm a f-ing hypocrite except I'm not saying everyone should wear a helmet, only that the neck injury excuse is BS.

Can you tell this one bothers me? Haha.

Hdip

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2022, 09:08:56 PM »
If it really is a question then just get that new helmet out of Hawaii that the WSL is making available to pipe contestants.

https://www.instagram.com/simbasurfhelmet/

Designed to pierce the water upon impact.

Dontsink

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2022, 10:42:46 PM »
No. This is misinformation from people who don't want to wear helmets speculating.

My favorite Progression Project podcast is where Erik tried to start that with the guy who rides airchairs and he shuts him down 100%.

No telling how many head injuries have been caused by this BS. If you're going fast enough to get your neck tweaked the danger of concussion is far higher.

I have no sources, neither does anyone making the counter argument. But helmets are proven to prevent head injuries and that's well documented. Need more evidence? Wake boarders go faster than any surfer west of Nazare.

If this was an issue, Gath would either make a neck brace or be out of business. Think about it. Dozens of surf and water helmets. No water neck braces.

To the original poster, this isn't aimed at you. I just hate that this stuff got ever spread.

I need to buy a helmet. I'm a f-ing hypocrite except I'm not saying everyone should wear a helmet, only that the neck injury excuse is BS.

Can you tell this one bothers me? Haha.

Eric does get a bit carried away by a "brah" attitude  ⁿwhich does not really fit with middle aged men playing in ankle slappers and musing about the hydrodynamic effects of a 0.5* shim :)

PonoBill

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2022, 11:43:23 PM »
Of course any kind of helmet can lead to neck injuries, and vaccinations can cause grim side effects, seat belts can strangle you or trap you in a burning car, and air bags can break your neck. The answer is unfortunately statistical, and people don't do well with that. The statistics are overwhelmingly in your favor for all those choices. People would rather trust anecdotal information to prove one case or another, and someone is always ready to provide it--in either direction.

I doubt there is any good statistical data on helmets in surf, or any demonstrable proof either way. The sample size would necessarily be small and someone would need to collect and analyze the data, or do some very unusual testing. I'm not aware of any testing, certification, or analytic effort like Snell, DOT or ECE for motorsport helmets. It sounds like a good idea, I have some water sport helmets, I don't generally wear them. It's not because I have an answer to the question about their efficacy, I don't really have any proof, but I suspect I'd be a bit safer if I wore one.

I don't get on a motorcycle or in a race car except in very rare circumstances without all the gear, not just helmets but fire suits for race cars, and riding clothes with armor and spine protection, boots, and armored gloves for motorcycles. There is no question about the efficacy, the statistical data is absolutely convincing. But in racing cars, I wear a Hans device, which is required in some organizations, which prevents the kind of neck and spine injuries that a helmet can cause in an accident. Of course, most safety gear carries unintended consequences. A hans-limited helmet reduces your angle of vision, and it's harder for rescue personnel to get the helmet off you.

Bottom line, people who say they know that watersport helmets lead to neck problems are almost certainly full of shit, but there's no way I know of to prove the available helmets provide adequate protection. Sorry if that seems inconclusive, that's more or less how life works.

Oh, and I've got a Simba helmet. the biggest problem with that helmet is how incredibly dorky anyone looks with it. At 75 years old I'm not aiming to impress anyone with my appearance, but there are limits.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 12:01:14 AM by PonoBill »
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

steamroller

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2022, 02:08:24 AM »
ive been using the Gath RV helmet with shield for a while now in all size waves and all kinds of high speed crashes...no problems and the shield works awesome!...for spray in the face takeoffs...that beingsaid....the second Simba makes a helmet with a shield im goingtobeFIRSTin  line...becausethey are already WAY COOL...


Phils

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2022, 02:43:49 AM »
I agree that the neck injury business is a canard perpetuated by those with an anti-helmet bias.  I did a deep dive into the medical literature once and there is a study showing that helmets DO NOT increase neck injuries. 

zacksc

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2022, 09:03:56 AM »
No. This is misinformation from people who don't want to wear helmets speculating.

My favorite Progression Project podcast is where Erik tried to start that with the guy who rides airchairs and he shuts him down 100%.

No telling how many head injuries have been caused by this BS. If you're going fast enough to get your neck tweaked the danger of concussion is far higher.

I have no sources, neither does anyone making the counter argument. But helmets are proven to prevent head injuries and that's well documented. Need more evidence? Wake boarders go faster than any surfer west of Nazare.

If this was an issue, Gath would either make a neck brace or be out of business. Think about it. Dozens of surf and water helmets. No water neck braces.

To the original poster, this isn't aimed at you. I just hate that this stuff got ever spread.

I need to buy a helmet. I'm a f-ing hypocrite except I'm not saying everyone should wear a helmet, only that the neck injury excuse is BS.

Can you tell this one bothers me? Haha.
Cool. Good to know. I was genuinely concerned and now I am not. I appreciate the frankness of your reply. I just ordered a Gath SFC to be shipped to me from Australia. That seems to be the only realistic way to get one right now. The Gath SFC seems like the best choice to me for modest protection. Simba and others seem oriented toward more extreme sports that ordinary SUP wave riding. Thanks everyone for your comments and advice!

PonoBill

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2022, 10:22:52 AM »
I agree that the neck injury business is a canard perpetuated by those with an anti-helmet bias.  I did a deep dive into the medical literature once and there is a study showing that helmets DO NOT increase neck injuries.

I'd need to see the study, I've read a few of them. If you do a simple google search you'll see lots of them, mostly recapitulating and reinterpreting the same data set. The conclusions are aimed at increasing public safety, which is laudable, but not exactly scientific. I think there are two ways to approach the question. One is CAN helmets lead to neck problems? The other is what is the frequency and severity of neck problems caused by watersports helmets compared to their efficacy in decreasing other hazards? the answer to the first question is probably "yes". The answer to the second is probably "very low chance of neck injury compared to the benefits". I sincerely doubt anyone has a more supportable conclusion than this.

Particularly since there are plenty of studies and data showing that motorsports helmets do indeed increase the risk of neck and spine injury, as any consideration of the physics involved would lead you to suppose. Add three pounds (typical weight of a full coverage motorsports helmet) to your head, hit a wall at 80MPH--20 to 100gs of deceleration depending on the impact angle and the crushability of your race car. Without a restraint system, the neck needs to support a huge load--in effect, the force associated with rapidly decelerating 60 to 100 pounds, borne by your skinny neck. It's why racers wear Hans devices. From a personal decision support standpoint, the data and studies clearly show that risks associated with NOT wearing a helmet are much greater. Without one your neck and spine in the above accident might be fine, but your head needs to be bagged for transport to the morgue. I was at a race once when one of the drivers hit a wall straight on at high speed. The deceleration tore his aorta loose. One could argue that the seat belts caused his death since the restraint caused the deceleration--if one were completely nuts.

A far lighter watersports helmet, or even a helmet for skiing or bicycling will not generate that kind of force, and the difference in resistance of the head moving through water is probably trivial. Probably. YMMV. What's the greater risk? Getting knocked unconscious by your board and drowning or having a stiff neck for a week?

Absent exhaustive data and analysis you really are not going to have a clearer picture than that. But if you're just looking for confirmation that you should wear a helmet, yeah, wear one.
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

Hdip

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2022, 10:46:36 AM »
I've been wearing a Gath RV since summer. I don't wear the visor when riding. It is nice to have the visor when sitting in the afternoon glare though.

The one fall I don't like to make with it is falling feet first like a "pencil drop". It's not really a fall that happens often in foiling so that's fine. I feel like there is a tiny bit of a bucket effect on that type of fall. Going in sideways or head first it's pretty much not even noticeable.

On a duck dive it's like wearing any kind of hat with a brim. You tuck your chin in a bit putting your head under water and it's fine.

No real downside to it.

PonoBill

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2022, 11:35:58 AM »
.the second Simba makes a helmet with a shield im goingtobeFIRSTin  line...becausethey are already WAY COOL...

You'll look like a gladiator with a Simba. I showed mine (bright yellow) to some friends and family and they all had fun putting it on and getting their pictures taken. They all looked like Marvin the Martian.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 11:39:39 AM by PonoBill »
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

Wetstuff

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2022, 11:44:59 AM »
As someone who's head is now supported by a 3-step, magnesium/cadaver bone ladder, I would suggest a helmet is great for surface impacts, but provides little-to-nada for whiplash we get during kitemares, closeouts, get'offs and other incidences where head and body differ on the immediate trajectory.  This was likely cumulative for me. You of high-skill and excellent conditioning may be spared, but perhaps put yourself at higher risk...

Jim
Atlantis Mistress .. Blue Planet MultiTasker ..   Atlantis Venom

PonoBill

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2022, 11:59:45 AM »
Last, and perhaps least, is the odd fact that humans consume safety margin. Add ABS brakes to cars and people follow closer at higher speed. Motorcyclists in helmets with all the Ricky Racer gear act like they are invulnerable. Surfers take on bigger waves in less amenable locations because they have a leash.

If you want to increase your safety you have to act like you have none of the safety gear, because any and all of it can fail. I had to do some really messy stuff yesterday when my wing blew away and ended on a rocky lee shore. I got back foiling and rode back to the beach I started from thanks to a selfless good samaritan and my willingness and ability to do what it took. The wrist leash didn't save me the long belly paddle on a dinky wingboard or the cuts on my feet working to claw my way off a rocky lee shore in onshore wind and breaking windswell.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 12:02:41 PM by PonoBill »
Foote 10'4X34", SIC 17.5 V1 hollow and an EPS one in Hood River. Foote 9'0" x 31", L41 8'8", 18' Speedboard, etc. etc.

sflinux

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Re: Do helmets lead to neck problems?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2022, 10:22:12 PM »
You want a helmet that fits well and is streamlined.  For surfing I like Gath.  I wear mine in all conditions with no adverse affects.
If you don't want a hard helmet you can try a rugby helmet, Tom Carroll started wearing one after hitting the reef at pipeline.  Tom has some good tips here:
https://surfmastery.com/podcast/010tomcarrollbigwave
One of his tips is wearing inflation & ear protection. 
I like wearing helmets, I always seem to hit my wear with my board whenever I don't wear a helmet.
I have yet to see the downside of wearing a helmet, other than the "uncool" factor.
I have never had neck strain with a Gath.  The only time I had neck strain with a helmet was with a flyaway skateboard helmet while kitesurfing.  I hit my head, the helmet acted like a parachute scooping water, while my kite pulled me one direction, and the helmet pulled me the opposite direction, leading to a choking affect.  Stretch Riedel broke his neck windsurfing wearing a Protec skateboarding helmet.  Stretch survived 20 min being paralized with his face submerged in water.  https://surfsplendorpodcast.com/347-stretch/
With kitesurfing I have learned to lead a fall with an arm, to break the water tension.  I think I subconsiously bring this into my surfing too.
I've always wondered what are the negative attributes of wearing a helmet in big wave surfing.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2022, 11:09:13 PM by sflinux »
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