Like every sport, surfing puts a considerable amount of stress on the body.
This stress often leads to injuries that can not only affect
athletic performance but could also evolve into chronic conditions such as tendonitis. From temperature to the height of the tide, a surfer’s body must overcome a series of physical and environmental challenges.
When surfing, a person must expend significant amounts of energy to maintain proper physiological functions (like body temperature). Facing the waves is no easy feat. Great force caused by powerful waves is constantly affecting the surfer’s body.
Surfer Shoulder Pain
The repetitive motions carried out while paddling can be detrimental to the joints and supporting muscles of the shoulder. As a result, shoulder pain and/or injuries are quite common amongst inexperienced and even experienced surfers.
If one doesn’t warm-up and stretch properly before going to surf, the paddling motions which require excessive use of the glenohumeral joint (ball and socket joint) for rotation can damage supporting muscles of the shoulder. Shoulder bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) is common when there is overuse of the shoulder or an injury. During arm elevation, the bursa (found between the acromion and the supraspinatus tendon) acts as a cushion which gets squeezed. Tears and inflammation of supporting structures of the shoulder joint, like the bursa, are the most common sources of pain amongst surfers.
Many athletes find that chiropractic treatment is very helpful for injuries related to surfing since the discipline focuses on musculoskeletal dysfunctions. Sports ChiroTherapy is especially beneficial for treating surfers’ shoulder pain. It combines techniques from chiropractic, muscle-trigger point therapy, and corrective exercises to treat dysfunction and prevent further injury.
The paddling and swimming motions which result in a very strong upper body can also cause uneven muscular pulls that can affect overall body alignment. Muscular imbalance can result in physical and emotional stress as well as overuse of selective motions. As a muscle shortens and contracts, it creates a pull on the opposing muscle. This opposing muscle will then lengthen and stretch, which can ultimately lead to muscular imbalance. Shortened muscles, due to extensive repetitive use, can cause a “pull” on a joint which leads to a greater overall physical imbalance.
Muscular imbalance can affect the athletic performance of any individual. When present, the imbalance forces the body to compensate for the added stress. This can lead to tight muscles, inflammation in deep levels of musculature, and decrease one’s range of motion. Over time, if not addressed, muscular imbalance can aggravate other musculoskeletal disorders that are more likely to develop with age. Examples of such disorders include osteoporosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Muscular imbalance is a big player in surfer shoulder pain. The balance of the shoulders is thrown off by certain muscles becoming stronger than those opposing them, such as muscles used for swimming motions. There is an outward pull from the strengthened arm muscles on the shoulder joint. Chest muscles are also part of the scheme. These muscles are extremely powerful as we tend to do everything in front of us. If not properly stretched, chest muscles create an inward pull that can restrict the overall range of motion of the shoulder. Corrective exercises and muscle trigger point therapy (HMT) are very effective treatments for such injuries.
If you would like to get checked out for these two common injuries, please come to CORE for a session of Sports ChiroTherapy!