Wednesday, 17 March 2010

a word in your ear...

Surfers ear is hardly breaking news. A cursory trawl of the net will reveal a wealth of wealth of information about the condition. Unless you are a complete beginner, chances are you will have either had some surfing related ear problems or at the very least know someone who has.

I'm not going to insult your intelligence by going into detail about why our beautiful obsession with waves can lead to repeated ear infection, partial deafness or unpleasant surgery to sort the problems out. What i am going to do is encourage you to be proactive about it.

Most of you will be aware that the damaging effects of wind and water can be reduced by wearing earplugs when you surf but most people don't start using them until they are already having problems. If you will allow me to offer a piece of advice - start wearing them now, before you get a problem, you'll thank me in the long run!

There are lots of different options, blue tac does work as do off the shelf silicon putty plugs but the safest option is custom made earplugs exactly like the ones Rob Shaddick at surfplugs made me. Granted they are more expensive than blue tac but (unless you are a muppet like me and lose one) they last for years. We spend hundreds of pounds a year on boards, wetsuits, petrol, carparks all in the pursuit of waves and custom plugs are realtively cheap in comparison, especially as they will help prevent a condition that could seriously limit or curtail your water time eventually.

Surfplugs are made in a cast of your ear, poured up from a silicon rubber impression Rob takes of your inner and outer ear which is an interesting and slightly weird experience in itself. After placing a piece of sponge over your eardrum the rubber is injected into your ear and sets hard enough to remove in a couple of minutes.

My plugs were back in about a week and, once you have the knack, are easy to place and remove. It does take a few sessions to get used to them. Lots of people say it affects their surfing but i honestly think if you wear them for every session you adapt to the feeling of wearing them quickly. I think lots of people dont wear plugs consistently enough to get past this. They dont affect your hearing enough to stop you chatting in the line up, though you can feel a little cut off in winter if you are wearing a hood as well.

Having already worn the putty style plugs for a number of years i've found the custom plugs more comfortable and you dont spend half your session pushing them back into your ears. I now feel a little uncomfortable surfing without them, especially in winter when it seems the cold gets inside your head more without them in.

Don't just take my word for it, many of the best surfers in the country are wearing Robs plugs, whether the logo is on their board or not. If you want to find out more about the plugs themselves or surfers ear, click here


Thos said...

So, you reckon I should get wearing them? As you know I've been surfing not quite a year yet but go out almost every day there's even a sniff of a wave (avg 3-4 times per week roughly). I thought I'd probably got a couple of years without thinking about it?

CP said...

Well I don't see a reason not to apart from cost and the putty is cheap and works ok if you can't stretch to surfplugs. I just think it's a simple way to protect yourself from unpleasantness and list water time from ear infections!

Unknown said...

Hi Chris, My ear plugs are supplied by my dentist, friend and fellow surfer Mike. He supplies us with the impression putty stuff and then I stuff it my ear, get a mold and voila.. cheap and bloody effective ear plugs and you don't mind if you lose one or two, just wait for the next appointment and grab some more!!

CP said...

Oh the irony :-)

must admit the thought had crossed my mind. Maybe I should start a sideline!

The Wisht Hound said...

Eh? What's that?

Could you speak up please....?

....Sorry someone had to do it ;-D

Thos said...

On the subject this is interesting too:

Sheeesh! I'm getting a bit frightened of Surfer's Ear. Might go looking for one of those old fashioned diver's helmets!

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