Tag Archives: wakeboarding and lower back pain

Benefits of Inversion

Its mid summer and wakeboarding is in full swing. This means lots of riding, progression, new tricks, and unfortunately, tired and sore bodies. One part of the body that gets taxed the most during wakeboarding is the spine. The spine is our center where most of the shock absorption occurs. The discs, which sit in between each of our vertebra, or back bones, are little cushions that help translate the pressure that happens when we jump, land,  twist, and bend. Keeping these discs healthy is important to avoid nerve injury, compression fractures to the spine, and disc bulging or herniation.

There are two very easy ways to keep discs healthy and continue riding safely and pain free. The first is simple has been written about before. Hydration. Drinking water hydrates the discs, making them taller and more supportive. Water also helps to keep the surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments pliable and stretchy, which are good qualities of tissue to keep you injury free. Keep a bottle of water with you wherever you are: home, boat, cable, work etc. This will encourage you to drink more. Also, be sure to replenish lost water from sweat and exercise after riding and/or working out. Sun, wind, and sweating can dehydrate you quickly!

 

 

 

Handstand  Inversion Table

 

images: http://www.wholeliving.com and http://www.inversiontableanalysis.com

 

The second way to keep your discs healthy is inversion.  Inversion is the act of turning upside down in order to let gravity undo the daily pressures put on the spine. There are a few ways to invert, using a inversion table, which allows you to hang from your feet, or doing a head or handstand (freestanding or against a wall.) Both have astounding benefits for the body. These benefits include:

1. Natural decompression: Gravity pulls the spine in the opposite direction as our upright life, allowing for traction in the spine which increases the disc height, gives more space for the nerves and relieves pain. Not only does decompression help the spine, it also helps with hips, knees and ankles as well!

2. Posture correction and flexibility: Inversion stretches musculature and allows our bodies to elongate in the axial direction. This allows for misalignments in the spine to be corrected and slouching in the shoulders and middle back to be undone. Inversion keeps the muscles, tendons and ligaments flexible keeping joints healthy.

3. Circulation and Energy: Inversion allows for the heart to be above the head, causing a surge of circulation to the brain. This allows for increased energy, mental clarity and focus. The movement in the blood can cause a release in neurotransmitters causing an increase in mood as well. Increasing circulation also cleans the blood and moves lymph, helping with immunity.

Inversion can be done daily and should be held for 10-20 seconds upside down, then 10-20 seconds back at neutral (or right side up)  for a total of 10 minutes maximum. This allows for a pumping motion in the spine, causing the most nutrients, blood flow and hydration to return to the discs. Also, it is not necessary to be completely upside down. Many of the benefits of inversion can be received by moving the head below the heart, like in downward dog or shoulder stand, the yoga poses.

downward dog shoulder stand

 

 

 

 

 

images: http://www.the-yoga-connection.com and http://www.health.com

 

Note: Inversion is not for everyone. If you suffer from a heart condition, glaucoma, bone weakness, high blood pressure, ear infection, pregnancy, stroke, retinal detachment or significant spinal injury, inversion is contraindicated. Please consult a medical professional before trying inversion.

 

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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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