Surfer’s Ear: Prevention and Treatment

What is Surfer’s Ear?

Regularly surfing in cold water, it was probably just a matter of time before I developed external auditory exostosis (EAE) or ”surfer’s ear,” a medical condition resulting from cold water and wind regularly contacting the ear canal. Frequent cold water and air in your ear canal stimulates bone growth that over time narrows the ear canal. With the narrowed ear canal, water and ear wax can plug up your ears resulting in general discomfort, possible hearing loss, and greater chances of ear infections. The good news is that you can greatly reduce your chance of getting “surfer’s ear” by following common sense preventative measures. And if you do get “surfer’s ear” recent medical advancements have made the surgical procedure less invasive. I’ll share with you my experience with the surgical procedure.

Prevention

Like most physical ailments or diseases, prevention is often the best cure.  If you are new to surfing and water sports in cold water (or even if you’ve been at it awhile), there are steps you can take to prevent, or greatly slow the issue:

  1. Wear ear plugs. Ear plugs can range from low cost products like Mack’s Ear Plugs, to higher end, custom-fitting ear plugs. The important thing is to block cold water and wind from getting into your ear canal.
  2. Wear a hood. Hoods serve the dual purpose of covering your ears and helping to keep cold water and wind out of your ears, but also to help prevent direct sun on your head which can cause skin damage.
  3. Keep ears warm out of water. When out of the water avoid cold wind hitting your ears by using your hoodie, or a hat.
  4. Use ear drops. Ear specialists recommend using ear drops after surfing / swimming to help prevent infection. Drops can be store bought or one can create a home mix of vinegar and alcohol.

Diagnosing

Unfortunately I rarely used ear plugs, or a hood in my 20 plus years of surfing.  I began to notice water was harder and harder to get out of my ears, and I would on occasion get earaches.  I knew it was time to see a specialist. Surfer’s ear is a real concern and if you think you might be a candidate, I would recommend getting your ears looked at by a qualified physician.

Surfer's Ear

(Image courtesy of PAMF.org)

The Procedure

I just completed the surgery and I am glad I did it. A significant amount of bone was removed and other than some nausea from the anesthesia, recovery is relatively painless. I am fortunate to live and surf in the Santa Cruz area, one of the most consistent but coldest wave zones in California. And since many others surf and do water sports here, it isn’t surprising that Dr. Douglas Hetzler, one of the best surfer’s ear surgeons, practices here. Dr Hetzler uses tiny chisels to chip away unwanted bone growth, a procedure he helped pioneer. It appears that the chip and chisel method has a quicker recovery, is less painful, and has less risks than other methods.

For more details about surfer’s ear and Dr. Hetzler’s methods, go here.

To your health,

Scott Adams, CSCS

Coach Scott winter surf session in California, pre Surfer's Ear surgery (and sans hood).

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Surf Stronger 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Surf Stronger Holiday Gift Guide 2015

Gift Ideas for the Surfer or Skier on Your List

The Holidays are here and the scramble to get the perfect gift can be time-consuming, even stressful, at times. We’re here to help with our annual Surf Stronger Holiday Gift Guide.  The following are surf and ski-related gift ideas for the surfer or skier on your list. When possible, shop small, and support local, small businesses.

Happy Holidays,

The Surf Stronger Crew

FITNESS. Being a surf fitness company, at the top of our list are a couple great products for training.

We have the best holiday pricing ever on our Surf Stronger and Ski Stronger DVDs. Our top-selling Surf Stronger and Ski Stronger DVDs start at just $14.95, and you can save big on combo-packs. Shop the  Surf Stronger store today and get the surfer or skier/boarder on your list a truly unique gift.

Mobility is key to good movement, and good movement lets you train and surf better. The crew at Rock Tape have taken the foam roller and beefed it up for increased durability and effectiveness. This one has a neat inner compartment where you can stow your surf wax, boardies, and a dozen or so Clif bars when traveling. Check it out here.

MUSIC. We dig music, and are still fans of the long playing album format.

ALO has a fantastic new album out, Tangle of Time. For the uninitiated, ALO is a Bay Area based outfit that has worked hard for over a decade fine tuning their rock/soul/jam sound. They’ve traveled the world on tour with Jack Johnson, G Love and the like, and are making some of their best music ever. For the more country-minded music lover, check out newcomer, Sam Outlaw. Sam Outlaw and his band burst onto the scene just this year and their record Angeleno is a fantastic take on the California Country sound. For the jazz-head in the crowd, SoCal favorites The Red Fox Tails came out with a tasty new offering in 2015 with their Ornamental Gypsy album. You can stream and buy at their site.

SURF GEAR. Gear you can workout in, surf in, or just cruise in — Vuori Clothing, one of our new faves based out of North County SD. Check out their board shorts, yoga wear, and warmups. Great stuff, by a cool new company.

SURF SLEDS. For those that have been extra good, a new board is always top on any surfer’s list. For super functional and style’y shapes, check out Bing Surfboards our of Encinitas, Calif. If you’re in the market for a high performance short board, be sure to check out Concept Surf Shop, also in Encinitas. They carry Firewire and other high performance sleds, and you can try before you buy (virtually unheard of in the surf world). For a wide range of custom, mostly local shapes, check out Surfy Surfy in Leucadia. Surfy carries beautiful, functional boards and is run by a good crew.

For those on California’s Central Coast (or thereabouts), check out our go-to shaper, Ward Coffey Shapes. With over twenty years experience and thousands of boards under his belt, Ward is one of the best out there.

SKI STRONGER. So far this season we have seen good snowfall, and it will hopefully continue straight through winter and spring with our El Nino in command.

SNOW FORECASTS AND ALERTS. Be in the know for the best conditions and get — or give — an Open Snow All Access Pass. For just $19 annually get custom snow alerts, ad-free web and mobile app experiences, plus save on lift tickets bought through Liftopia.

MULTI PACK LIFT TICKETS Want to really stoke out the skier or boarder on your list? Stoke them on a Squaw Valley Super 4 Pack. It works out to about $73/day with no black out dates. Mammoth Mountain has some pretty good deals as well as gift cards available from their site.

SKI FITNESS. All skiers know that better fitness equals better skiing. Pick up the #1 ski fitness training video, Ski Stronger, and stoke out the skier or boarder on your list. They’ll be in shape in no time to ski or board their very best. At just $14.95 this DVD is a the best value in skiing.

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El Nino is Here. Are You Ready?

El Nino is here, and the NPAC has already begun churning up some great ground swells, and snow is falling in the Western states. In Southern California, we’ve had a good run of early fall swell and the water is still warm. We’ve also started to get some rain, though nothing heavy so far. While we likely won’t see the full effects of this El Nino until December, January time frame, now is the time to get prepared for surfing bigger waves and skiing steeper slopes. While no two El Ninos are alike, forecasters are calling for what may be an epic El Nino. Just how much snow it will produce is up for debate. Experts seem to agree that we will see a lot of moisture and rain, and with a little luck, also a lot of snow. We’ve put together a few tips for getting the most out of El Nino:

  1. Stay on top of weather forecasts. We like Open Snow for accurate and easy-to-digest weather and snow updates. Sign up for their e-mails and be informed on the best time to hit the slopes. For surf conditions and swell forecasts, we dig Solspot. Their accurate and entertaining surf forecasts will keep you in the know.  Another great surf forecast tool is to look at the buoy reports from NOAA. Click on the buoy closest to your break and drill down into conditions and forecasts.
  2. Tune up your gear. Surf and snow is coming, so make sure your gear is tuned up, or get the right gear. Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect. Repair and tune those step-up boards, wax up those skis and be ready. Score a warm, (or gently used) wetsuit or parka and be ready to get into the elements.
  3. Get surf and ski fit. It’s a proven fact that better fitness equals better surfing & skiing. If you are already on a program, you can step up the intensity now, to enjoy the heart of the season (December – March). If your fitness program needs a tune up, get started now. Surf Stronger or Ski Stronger video workouts will get you going in no time, and the programs have never been so affordable. Shop our store today to get a DVD or download and get to it!

Stay health, and we’ll see you in the water (and on the mountain),

The Surf Stronger Crew

Going for it on the Central Coast. (Photo: Nelly)

2015/16 is off to a good start. Let's hope it continues! (Photo: Squaw Valley/Alpine)

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Surf film, art & wine, tonight in Laguna

Here is a great event for surfers in the OC. The event happens tonight, get down and check it out. Jason Baffa is one of our fave modern surf film makers and “Bella Vita” looks great.

About the event:
Jason Baffa’s latest award-winning film, “Bella Vita,” chronicles a surfer’s journey through Italy, revealing a modern world of culture, tradition and passion. As part of the monthly Laguna ArtWalk series, Jason is hosting an exclusive evening of film, art and wine on August 7 at The Inn at Laguna Beach. Surfer, artist and environmentalist, Chris del Moro, who the film follows on an exploration through the Italian surf scene, will also be in attendance.

Admission is free; complimentary self-parking is available at The Inn at Laguna Beach, based on availability.

A free shuttle service for ArtWalk patrons is provided by the City of Laguna Beach.  The stop nearest the hotel is the Laguna Art Museum. For more information, a map of shuttle stops and participating galleries, visit http://firstthursdaysartwalk.com.

More on Jason Baffa:

www.jasonbaffafilms.com and http://www.bellavitafilm.com.

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Celebrating the Surfboard

One of our favorite surf events of the year is fast approaching: The Board Room 2014! For the uninitatied, the Board Room is an unabashed celebration of all things surfboard. The show features surfboard builders–  and their fantastic craft —  from all over the world, live music, great deals on boards & gear, and even a competitive “shape off” that happens live. The show has been going since 2007 and gets better every year.

Show director, Scott Bass explains the raison d’etre for the show:  ”Our culture arises from riding surfboards on waves. It is all about the surfboard; has always been about the surfboard.” The Board Room show takes place May 17-18, 2014 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. For more information, check out BoardRoomShow.com.

The Board Room show - shaping image

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  • DVD Sale:

    Our top seller: Surf Stronger Volumes 1 and 2 for just $39.95. Check it today.