Tag Archives: low back pain

Strengthening the Lower Back for Wakeboarding

backThe lower back is an extremely important area in the sport of wakeboarding. It acts as part of the core to stabilize while being pulled from either the boat or cable. It also is often engaged as the center of gravity for flips and spins. The lower back  is stocked with layers upon layers of muscles and ligaments for stability and cushioned with discs for shock absorption. The complexity is great, but often times, the small, but important,  muscles tend to be underutilized. It is important to keep them all engaged to prevent injury and remain pain free.

image: corpushumain.ca

Here are a few exercises to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in the lumbar spine:

1. Pelvic Tilts– Begin lying on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Start pulling your belly button into your spine and drawing it in and up. Hold for a few seconds then release, moving into an arched position. Repeat for 20 repetitions.

pelvic-tilt

image: ericavijay.net

2. Bridges– Begin in the same position as pelvic tilts. With your arms at your sides, palms facing down, push your pelvis up, contracting your glutes. Hold for a few seconds and lower back down to starting position. Repeat for 20 repetitions.

bridge-exercise

image: goldenworkoutroutines.com

3. Cross Crawl- Begin on your hands and knees, with your belly button pulled into your spine and your head in a neutral position. Start lifting right arm and left leg, extending out and elongating. Bring back to starting position and repeat with opposite arm and leg. Continue alternating for 20 reps per side, aiming to have a smooth transition and holding the abdominals tight.

lower_back-cross_crawl_kneeling2

image: humanhealthplace.com

4. Cat-Camel– Begin in the same position as cross crawls. Start by arching your back and sagging your belly (the cat). Hold for a few seconds and transition into pulling your stomach in as high as you can (the camel). Alternate back in forth for 20 repetitions.

catcamel

image: precisionsportsmedicine.com

5. Side Plank-Start in a push up position, except on the elbows. Move your weight to one elbow and open up to stack feet on one another or beside, depending on proficiency. Raise the free arm into the air or bend and place on hip. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

sideplank

image: womenshealthmag.com

6. Supermans- Begin lying on your stomach. Reach arms out overhead. Lift arms and legs a few inches off the ground and hold, while engaging the glutes and lower back muscles. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

superman

image: fitnessandfreebies.com

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Wakeboarding and Low Back Pain

Has wakeboarding given you low back pain? Unfortunately, the nature of falling from the sky onto flat water just isn’t ergonomically correct! Wakeboarding causes repetitive stresses to the tissue of the lower back, the vertebrae, discs, and muscles and ligaments that hold everything together. These tissues can cause pain that is local in nature, achy, and can turn into sharp or debilitating depending on how severe the damage is. What kind of pain are you having?

 

image:  www.necksolutions.com

Muscle

Muscle pain is typically the most common and is diffuse, or spread out, and is achy in nature. It comes about after lengthy rides, trying new tricks, multiple falls (that aren’t severe),  and typically feels worse after inactivity (like sitting) and better once you move around for a little while. Muscle pain can also be severe during the situation of muscle splinting or spasm. Muscle pain responds well to soft tissue treatments like massage, Graston, manual therapy, etc as well as icing techniques (15-20 minutes with small towel or shirt between ice and skin) and electrical stimulation to decrease inflammation or pain.

Vertebrae

Vertabrae are the bones of the spine that make up a column to act as the foundation of the midsection as well as protection for the spinal cord. Falls, repetitive stress, and the constant pounding from landings can cause the vertebra to shift and be come whats called subluxated. This is a malposition of the vertebrae which can cause pain and inflammation of the surrounding nerves. It can also cause decreased range of motion and over time, if not corrected, can lead to degeneration of the joint. Getting adjusted by a chiropractor or DO, stretching and yoga, and foam rolling can be useful in addressing pinched nerves and subluxations.

Disc

Between each of the above named vertebra are discs. Discs act as cushion for impact between the two bones. Discs can bulge or herniate if impact is great enough and cause significant pain due to the close proximity of the disc to spinal nerves. Pain from these nerves radiate, or originate at the spine but travel down an extremity. Disc pain can be treated through decompression, traction, adjustment, and therapies to reduce inflammation, like ice and electrical stimulation. This can all be done at a chiropractic office or physical therapist. If the disc issue doesn’t respond to conservative care, further evaluation should be done by a neurologist.

 

Lower back pain is  a very treatable condition when it comes to wakeboarding, and the best way to start is with ice and rest. Once the pain is under control, strengthening the lower spine will keep you from injuring it again in the future. More on that, coming next!

 

*If you have back pain accompanied by a fever, flank pain, abdominal pain, or bowel or bladder problems, consult your general practitioner to rule out the possibility of appendicitis, diverticulitis, kidney issues, or other organ pathology. If in doubt, always consult a physician. 

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To travel pain free, free the iliopsoas!

It’s holiday season and that means it is time for traveling! Whether its home for Thanksgiving, a snowboard trip out west, or just down the road for a get-together, a holiday pain free is one worth celebrating!

Most people have encountered a bout of low back, hip, or leg pain after a long road trip or a plane ride.  When traveling, we may attribute it to our heavy board bag and luggage or those god-awful seats in the airplane. Ironically, the pain that is experienced in the lower back, hip, or leg may actually be coming from your front side.

A muscle called the iliopsoas connects the front side of the lumbar vertebra (the bones in the low back that make up your spine) to the femur (the thigh bone). The muscle acts to flex the abdomen down to the thigh or to lift the thigh to the abdomen. This muscle is also referred to as a hip flexor. Because of the attachment to the spine, if the muscle is overcontracted, shortened, or spasmed, pain can be felt in the low back, hip, or leg. If the iliopsoas is contracted for a prolonged period of time, it can cause the glutes to fire improperly, tilt the pelvis forward, and jam the facet joints in the spine.

Image: http://www.themeanings.com

To prevent the psoas from ruining your holiday, here are a few helpful tips:

1. Move around. -The most common tip to travelers is to move around as much as possible. If in a car, take frequent gas/bathroom breaks to allow you to get out of the car and move around. If in the plane, try and get up at least once during the ride. Moving around will not only stretch the iliopsoas, but increase blood flow to the lower body.

2. Stretch. -To stretch the iliopsoas, kneel on one knee with the other foot in front with knee bent. Contract glutes and gently push foward, stretching the back hip flexor. Keep back straight and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. Be sure not to push front knee over front foot and keep a 90 degree bend in the front knee. To add additional stretch, raise arm overhead and reach away from side of stretch.

Image: www. sportsinjuryclinic.net

3. Activate the glutes. See post “Glutes Are The New Core”

4. Release the iliopsoas. The easiest way to have the iliopsoas released is to have a therapist or healthcare professional do it for you. If this is not available, find a ball, slightly larger than a tennis ball. Lie face down onto the ball, supporting your body with your elbows and feet. The ball should be positioned a little to the side and below the belly button. Continuously breathe and push your body into the ball for 10-30 seconds, releasing the trigger points in the muscle. The iliopsoas trigger points are very painful, so be sure to support your body with your elbows and toes to vary the depth of the therapy.

To travel pain free, free the iliopsoas. Happy Holidays!

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