Vol 68, No 1 (2017)
Original article
Published online: 2017-03-30

open access

Page views 2406
Article views/downloads 3775
Get Citation

Connect on Social Media

Connect on Social Media

Mermaid health — identifying health issues related to mermaiding

Matthieu J. Guitton
Pubmed: 28357831
IMH 2017;68(1):12-18.

Abstract

Background: Mermaiding — swimming with a leg-covering monofin mimicking the tail of a mermaid — is an emerging aquatic activity, which has gained a marked popularity over the last few years. However, no study so far has documented the potential health issues or risks of injuries related to this practice.

Materials and methods: This study surveyed professional mermaids cumulating an estimated total of 19,147 h of in-water mermaiding, regarding their health issues and injuries. While mermaiding bears some risks, the occurrence of problematic conditions appears limited. Interestingly, the profile of health issues experienced by professional mermaids is unique and specific, and clearly different from both professional swimmers and surfers.

Results: Self-reported health issues related to mermaiding could be divided into issues specifically related to mermaiding activities (ear issues, reported by 87.5% of the respondents; sea life encounters, 50%; cold-related issues, 37.5%; compromised access to air, 25%), issues related to the tail and fins (back pain, 50%; lower limbs issues, 37.5%), and issues related to water quality (eye issues, 25%; waterborne diseases, 12.5%). Clear differences appear between professional and recreational mermaiding activities.

Conclusions: The results presented here will help to build safer conditions for mermaiding activities and to develop adapted responses from health specialists to help this unique yet growing population of aquatic performers and athletes.  

References

  1. Guitton MJ. From fantasy, to virtual spaces, to reality, and back: Structuring the merfolk community. In: Guitton MJ ed. Fan Phenomena: Mermaids. Intellect, Bristol, 2016, pp : 64–73.
  2. Fraser H. The journey of a mermaid: Turning fantasy into reality. In: Guitton MJ ed. Fan Phenomena: Mermaids. Intellect, Bristol, 2016, pp : 22–27.
  3. Guitton MJ. Swimming with mermaids: Communication and social density in the Second Life merfolk community. Computers in Human Behavior. 2015; 48: 226–235.
  4. Rivers C. Mermaid blogging. In: Guitton MJ ed. Fan Phenomena: Mermaids. Intellect, Bristol, 2016, pp : 74–77.
  5. Chartier Hénault M. A mermaid school: Becoming a mermaid instructor. In: Guitton MJ ed. Fan Phenomena: Mermaids. Intellect, Bristol, 2016, pp : 48–51.
  6. Harding AK, Stone DL, Cardenas A, et al. Risk behaviors and self-reported illnesses among Pacific Northwest surfers. J Water Health. 2015; 13(1): 230–242.
  7. Nichols AW. Medical Care of the Aquatics Athlete. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015; 14(5): 389–396.
  8. Boitel G, Vercruyssen F, Alberty M, et al. Kick frequency affects the energy cost of aquatic locomotion in elite monofin swimmers. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010; 109(6): 1087–1093.
  9. Vercruyssen F, Boitel G, Alberty M, et al. Influence of kick frequency on metabolic efficiency and performance at a severe intensity in international monofin-swimmers. J Sports Sci. 2012; 30(10): 1055–1061.
  10. Oshita K, Ross M, Koizumi K, et al. Gender difference of aerobic contribution to surface performances in finswimming: analysis using the critical velocity method. Asian J Sports Med. 2013; 4(4): 256–262.
  11. Paterakis KN, Brotis AG, Dardiotis E, et al. Acute Schmorl's Node during Strenuous Monofin Swimming: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Global Spine J. 2012; 2(3): 159–168.
  12. Rejman M. Analysis of relationships between the level of errors in leg and monofin movement and stroke parameters in monofin swimming. J Sports Sci Med. 2013; 12(1): 171–181.
  13. De Man H, Mughini Gras L, Schimmer B, et al. Gastrointestinal, influenza-like illness and dermatological complaints following exposure to floodwater: a cross-sectional survey in The Netherlands. Epidemiol Infect. 2016; 144(7): 1445–1454.
  14. Jones JH. Swimming overuse injuries. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 1999; 10: 77–94 vi.