Common Reason for Surfers having Low Back Pain and Neck Pain

Congrats to Santa Cruzian Nic Lamb for winning Titans of Maverick last week.

Quick Tips and Tricks for while you are surfing to prevent low back pain neck pain

  1. )  Cross your feet.  Once crossed, push them against each other and you should be able to feel more core engagement.  This can should be a light engagement otherwise you will fatigue them out.
  2. )  while laying on your board a few cat/cow or pelvic tilt exercise get a sense of what your end-range is in extension, and how far you can tuck your pelvis posteriorly. Do this should straighten the lumbar curve.  Listen to a point where it feels like you have taken pressure off of the facets, but still has a lordosis in the lumbar spine.
  3. )  If you are having trouble engaging those muscles then pressure your knees into your board.  This will hlep you engage your lower abs pelvic floor and hips flexors,
For the most part surfing is really great for your back.  All day long we are usually in a flexion position ie sitting at a desk, sitting in the car, sitting on the couch.  

Everyone could benefit from incorporating a type of extension exercise regime into their life.  Yoga, swimming, or surfing are a great way to make sure you are getting enough extension and opening up your heart.

A common cause in the surfers that I treat for low back pain and neck pain is that have lost mobility in the thoracic spine.   They try to make up for it in the lumbar spine, especial at the lowest vertebral joint L5/S1. Usually the lower abdominal core is not also not engaging either which allows the person while surfing to repetitively hyper-extend at the L5/S1 area.  Over time this will cause irritation, inflammation, and pain and can lead to earlier degeneration of the facet joints.

Don't let this kill your Stoke.  Its all about Prevention

If this is an issue for you, there are a lot of things you can do proactively.  If I were you, I would go to your trusted movement specialist weather that is a physical therapist, chiropractic, personal trainer ectera. Have them see what your score is on the functional movement screen (FMS), or if you are in pain, see what shows up on the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).  These assessments will really help to find the underlying causes and not just treat the pain symptoms.

Usually the underlining cause is a Combination of a mobility issue and a motor control issue.

Typically we have have to address the restrictions and pains in the muscles and joint complexes.  We find that HMT, a acupressure technique is usually the fastest and most effective for releasing these restrictions, but often we incorporate Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique as well.

Commonly we will prescribe daily home mobilization of the Thoracic spine for long term success.  In our office we show people how to this with a combination of; miracle balls, Yoga tune up balls, foam rollers,

The Pain from the Facets joints can be relieved with some an side posture chiropractic adjustment.  This not only will increase blood flow to joint, and help to increase synovial fluid, it will help break up the fibrosis laid down by the inflammation.  This fibrosis over time will thicken causing restriction and decreased range of motion of the spine. 

For those that aren't ready for an adjustment a series of body work treatments to the muscle and fascia is essential to maintaining elastic and strong tissues fibers.

I hope this helps you get back in the water

In Health,

Dr Justin Mcleod - Santa Cruz Spine & Sport