Water Sports And Summer Fun — 3 Essential Techniques To Prevent Injuries
The long summer days and warmer weather are perfect for water sports of all kinds. Swimming, stand-up paddling (SUP), boating, water skiing, surfing and wind surfing, are very popular ways to keep cool and have fun! Many people like to try these activities while on vacation. As a former athlete and coach, I applaud every effort to stay fit, be healthy, and enjoy an active lifestyle. As a certified sports massage therapist and an acupuncturist, I also see the wear and tear (literally) that occur with many water sports. If you are a seasonal athlete or an infrequent water sports enthusiast, here are three essential things you can do to prevent injuries.
Warm Up and Cool Down:
Proper stretching for each water activity is essential before and after the sport. Gentle stretching with slow motions similar to the activity you will be doing will warm up the muscles and loosen the ligaments and joints. When people “jump in” to an activity without taking time to warm up, they are more likely to suffer from a sports injury such as a tear, or sprain. If you you participate in water sports infrequently, its easy to overlook the importance of a good warm up and cool down.
Improve Your Technique:
Improper technique is a common source of injuries for swimmers and SUP enthusiasts. Overstretching and over reaching are common causes of injuries. Swimmers experience shoulder injuries from not bending the elbows when doing underwater pulls which puts unnecessary stress on the shoulders. Neck injuries occur with improper breathing technique. A gentle roll with the body for breathing rather than a sharp whip of the head can help prevent neck and back pain. SUP enthusiasts often over-pull and over-stretch their reach. Paddling too deeply can put great stress on the shoulders and muscles of the upper back. Boaters can overuse muscles of the shoulder with improper paddling technique. If you are trying a water sport for the first time, I recommend watching tutorials online before you give it a go. Proper technique will prevent injuries and enhance your enjoyment of the activity!
Prevent Joint Overuse:
Mix it up with a change of position or use a variety of strokes to prevent joint overuse. Swimming, paddling, and surfing all require repetitive movement. Its important to incorporate bilateral movement and prevent the overuse of any one joint. When swimming, vary your strokes to include breast, side, and free-style. And be sure to end with a backstroke to open up the chest and reverse the direction of pull on the shoulders and back. Breathe from side to side, rather than breathing from the same side. For paddling and boating, be sure to take breaks, use your leg and back muscles to support your form.
Pain from overuse will come on gradually and last for hours or days. It will increase with continued overuse. Pain that is sharp and sudden is an indication of a tear or sprain. If your weekend water sports have left you feeling achy and sore from overuse or injury, I can help to speed the recovery time and reduce the pain with acupuncture. Summer will be over before long. Enjoy the wind, the waves and the water as much as possible, then come see me for the three “R’s” relaxation, restoration, and recovery.