Published 6/5/2019

Splash safely this summer

Orthopaedic surgeons offer swimming and diving safety tips

ROSEMONT, Ill. (June 5, 2019) — Swimming can be a low-impact, strength building exercise that doubles as fun entertainment under the hot summer sun. It is a full-body workout that builds endurance without putting stress on the muscles and joints. But before you dive in, remember swimming and diving in unsafe bodies of water can lead to severe neck and/or spine injuries.
“Water can be deceptive and sometimes appear deeper than it is,” states American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon (AAOS) and orthopaedic spine surgeon Charla Fischer, MD. “If you’re not sure of the depth of the water, take steps to minimize any injury by entering feet first. Neck injuries from diving into shallow water are too common and debilitating.”
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2018, emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics treated:

  • 291,690 people for swimming-related injuries; and
  • 22,905 people for diving-related injuries.

Splash safely by following these safety tips from orthopaedic surgeons and the AAOS:

  • Consider a brief warm up to get the blood flowing. Jumping jacks, cycling, running or walking are all great activities.
  • Swim in a supervised area where lifeguards are present. Inexperienced swimmers should wear lifejackets in the water.
  • Do not attempt to swim if you are too tired, too cold, or overheated.
  • Be prepared for emergency situations by having a plan to reach medical personnel to treat injuries such as concussions, dislocations, bruises, wrist or finger sprains and fractures.
  • If diving from a high point, make sure the bottom of the body of water is double the distance from which you're diving. For example, if you plan to dive from eight feet above the water, make sure the bottom of the body of water, or any rocks, boulders or other impediments are at least 16 feet under water.
  • Never dive headfirst into above-ground pools.
  • Never dive headfirst into water that is not clear, such as a lake or ocean, where sand bars or objects below the surface may be obstructed or not visible.
  • Only one person at a time should stand on a diving board. Dive only off the end of the board and do not run on the board.
  • Swim away from the board immediately afterward to make room for the next diver.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or during swimming, diving, or boating. Alcohol can impair balance, coordination, and judgment.

For more swimming and diving safety tips, visit

About the AAOS
With more than 39,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the world’s largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The AAOS is the trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health. It provides the highest quality, most comprehensive education to help orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals at every career level best treat patients in their daily practices. The AAOS is the source for information on bone and joint conditions, treatments and related musculoskeletal health care issues and it leads the health care discussion on advancing quality.

# # #

Contact AAOS Media Relations 

Deanna Killackey 


Lauren Riley