As we progress into the long distance season, training runs and races are getting longer and more intense.
Many paddlers may be starting to develop back pain after a long practice or even worse…while they’re in the boat!
There are many potential origins of back pain in canoe paddlers, but two of the most common are low back muscle strains and lumbar disk injuries. Muscle strains occur when imbalances in the back and hip muscles combined with core weakness cause repetitive stresses to the lower back. Lumbar disk injuries occur from long periods of sitting in the canoe while repetitively flexing the spine forward, pushing the lumbar disk out of place. Neither scenario is good. . . especially if the pain starts acting up during a race.
Just because you may be experiencing back pain doesn’t mean you have to endure it throughout the rest of the season. Here are a few exercises to keep your back healthy and keep you competing at the highest level.
Prone Press Up:
Keeping your hips pressed against the floor, extend your back by straightening your arms. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times. This exercise is great for lumbar disk health and can reverse the results of repetitively flexing the lumbar spine while paddling.
Figure 4 Stretch:
With your knees bent to 90 degrees, cross your right leg over left and pull your left leg towards your chest. The stretch should be felt in the right hip/buttock area. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2 times.
Hamstring Stretch with Strap:
With your knee slightly bent, pull your leg towards your head using a towel or strap. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2 times. This exercise is great for your back because having good hamstring flexibility decreases low back strain.
High Plank with Opposite Leg Lift:
Keeping your body and legs as straight as you can, alternately lift your legs holding for about 5 seconds. Complete 10 on each leg.
High Side Plank:
Keeping shoulder, hip and ankle aligned, hold the plank position for 30 seconds. Work your way up to 1 minute holds.
These are great exercises for your back health, but if your symptoms persist or worsen, don’t hesitate to come and see us at Jaco Rehab. We are passionate about helping you compete at the highest level! See you in the Kaiwi Channel!
by Tim Chang, PT, DPT Jaco Rehab