Lower back pain is experienced by up to 80% of the UK population at some point in their life time. It usually resolves itself within 6-8 weeks. However when participating in ocean sports, you may be repetitively irritating the same structure of your body whilst participating in the sport you love which may mean the pain hasn’t resolved as quickly as you may have liked it to. This back pain may have come on gradually and can present as a dull ache with intermittent sharp pains and usually located in the lower back/ buttocks and +/- hips.

This blog aims to help you identify why you may be experiencing lower back pain within your sport but by no means is replacing the importance of seeing or speaking to a healthcare professional 1:1.

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Many surfers experience lower back pain at some point within their surfing career. Some common causes include:

  • Over extending (arching) from the lower back because of a stiff upper back.
  • Prolonged periods lying on your front and arching back causing a closed packed position of the joints.
  • Explosive rotation of the spine during turns and cut backs.
  • Poor core stability and/or endurance of the deep stabilising muscles of the spine.
  • Poor paddling/ pop-up technique.

To help over come these commons pain points you need to:

  • Increase your upper back mobility.
  • Open up the joints in your lower back after your surfing session by performing exercises such as the ‘forward fold’ in yoga.
  • Increase the strength of the trunk rotators.
  • Build core stability.
  • Build back extensor muscle strength and endurance.
  • Find a local surf school to teach the right paddle and pop-up techniques.
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Swimming envolves many repetitive movements of all body parts. Common causes of lower back pain in swimmers include:

  • No/ limited warm up.
  • Inadequate body rolling. This means you are too static through the hips and rotating from the spine causing excessine and repetitive stress through the lower back.
  • Hip flexor tightness. This means you are unable to kick through the full range of the hips, placing increased stress through the lower back.
  • Poor core stability.

In order to help with this you need to:

  • Ensure you warm up and that the warm up meets the demands of the training session, focusing on increasing the body temperature and making the movements specific.
  • Work on the flexibility of your hip flexor muscles and the strength of your glute (buttocks) muscles.
  • Technique is key - hire a swim coach/ join a club to help fine tune the correct movement patterns.
  • Build core stability with Pilates.
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Paddle Boarding

With the increasing popularity of paddle boarding, this ocean sport is also inflicting lower back pain on some individuals. Common causes tend to be due to:

  • Leaning too far forwards to place the paddle in the water.
  • Standing and arching the lower back too much (sticking your bottom out) when concentrating on balance when standing on the board.
  • Allowing the knees to fall in, reducing glute (buttock) activation that helps support the back.
  • Pulling the paddle out of the water too late (behind your feet), causing excessive flexion (bending forwards) of the back.
  • Paddling on one side only - especially on touring boards.

When out on your paddle board try to:

  • Hinge at the hips, dont flex at the back.
  • Adopt a good strong standing stance; tuck your bottom in underneath you and engage the pelvic floor.
  • Ensure your knees stay hip width apart and squeeze your buttocks.
  • Regularly change the side of the paddle to prevent repetitive strain injury to one side.
  • Pull the paddle out the water, level with your feet.

If you would like further advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Mountain Ocean Rehab. We love working with outdoor enthusiasts who require advice and support to overcome pain and injury, returning them to the sport they love.