Surfing is popular with participants on coastlines throughout the world. At some stage, most surfers experience some degree of lower back pain or stiffness. A 2014 Australian study reporting it as the highest-ranking of surfing injuries at 23.3%. The most common form of lower back pain when surfing is characterised by tight muscles and a constant dull ache, and is most often caused by an over-arching lower back and a very stiff upper back. Unfortunately, many surfers are also plagued by back pain that hinders or terminates their participation in the sport.
The older surfers (age higher than 40) and more experienced surfers (more than 20 years of surfing) have higher relative risks of injuries, with the 35-55 age bracket being the most affected by lower back pain.
Common Causes of Back Pain in SurfersThe most common reasons for low back in surfers is due to one or more of the following:
What would a Physical Therapist be looking for ?
An objective assessment would include the following
Surfing position and "pop up" technique - look out for:
Physical Therapy treatment program will address :
Manual Therapy skills to improve the client's condition.
These skills include:
Include some or all of the following stretches:
Surfing Technique Guidance
The PT will instruct on ways to lessen extension in paddling and "pop ups". eg learn to engage core before popping up, learn to arch whole spine when extending not just low back, instruct on need to loosen up body and back before and after surfing to maintain back health. Check that muscles have sufficient flexibility, strength and co-ordination for surfing postures.
Conclusion: This blog highlights the lower back as a key region where chronic injuries occur in surfers. This can assist in reducing the occurrence of injury through appropriate assessment, treatment and the use of sports-specific strength training and conditioning. Happy Surfing !