GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s our final day of our Water Safety Week series, and so far this week, we’ve explored how to stay safe this summer at the beach, on a boat, and at your own pool.
Today, we are exploring the dangers of diving head first into the water.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, diving is the fourth leading cause of spinal cord injuries for men and fifth for women.
Furthermore, a third of those injuries are at beaches when people dive head first into the waves.
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Physician Jonathan VandenBerg says there are several ways however that he’s seen people get injured while diving.
“Oftentimes, we see it in murky waters, but also people tend to dive into the shallow end of the pool,” Vandenburg said, “I've seen people see the slope of that deep end go up into the shallow end, and I've seen people dive into that as well, if they dive too far off the diving board.”
If you are wanting to dive, Dr. Vandenburg suggests getting in the water first and exploring the area, looking out for rocks or unsuspected depth.
The water should be 12 to 14 feet in depth. If you are diving off a diving board, make sure not to dive too far out.
Ultimately, he suggests just diving feet first.
“If you’re going in feet first, you’re just much less at risk to damage the nerves that go to your arms and your legs,” Vandenburg said, “That’s why we always encourage it, your legs are stronger, they’re able to protect you better than your arms.”
Mary Free Bed sees several of these types of injuries and a majority of those injured are under the age of 29. Recovery can take anywhere from a few months to even a few years to gain back feeling or full movement.