Busted Back Ouch

9 years 3 months ago #7187 by chriswalkeralive
About a year ago I posted a discussion topic about sea kayaks - namely the Rapier .. versus the ski world and since then, carrying some great advice from some wise people, I've moved my "go fast" mode to a Fenn Elite and recently sold the rapier. But not before a few more interesting observations... like this one.

My back.

I climb in Nepal, that doesn't at first seem related to ski paddling, until you're climbing along a rough and bumpy trail and your sacrum seizes up.

With great discomfort I got down from the mountains and back to the safety of my home town Sydney and into an X-ray facility. Diagnosis? Buggered back.....

Here are some good reasons why my back buggered up in Nepal.

1. I didn't stretch my hamstrings, glutes and quads after and before every paddle, hence tightening up all the tendons, nerves and tissue around my sacrum. One of those sacrum froze in Nepal. Muscles strained and nerves swelled.

2. I improved my forward stroke. This without point one would not have been harmful, however, sea kayak seats are rarely made for hip rotation, driving most sea kayak paddlers to rotate not at all, or all from the lumber. Translating the training I got on the ski for forward stroke into the poorly designed (for full rotation) rapier seat loaded my back unevenly.

3. I didn't heed the warning signs. I raced the Fenn ski and the Rapier and a few times paddled an Vadja Orca and a Nelo ski. In several of those my bones and their design were incompatible. (no right and wrong here please) - Over longer training distances I got aches in the sit bones, hips and cramps in the backs of my legs. Tell tale signs of pinched nerves etc. I didn't heed the warnings...

4. Finally, carrying the ski/kayak etc... Once I got back from Nepal I went for X-rays. I have, not only a frozen pelvis on one side, but severely deteriorated L4 joint, a fracture in L1 and some major gunk going on in T3,4,5,6 .. al of which is old but compounded by carrying the heavy kayak on my shoulder... (awkward things in the wind too)

The solutions I see are: Yoga, Seat awareness, different strokes for different boats, choice of boat and carry mindfulness.. anyone have more.... I do want to survive to a ripe old age paddling but at this rate, it's a dead end street.

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9 years 3 months ago #7190 by outriggerbev
Replied by outriggerbev on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
yes-its the bucket that gets us all buggered-it doesnt promote a natural recovery phase like the forwsrd tilting k1 seat,it gives us better balance now....insanity later.I dont think you would get this prob in the k1 paddlers .

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9 years 3 months ago #7191 by AR_convert
Replied by AR_convert on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
Sorry to hear about your injury Chris. sometimes it doesn't seem fair that those of us who are active and looking after ourselves can get overuse/ stress related injuries.

This is a timely post for me, after coming back to paddling due to an injury enforced lay-off I have really upped the km's and intensity for endurance races later in the year only to find I have been having real issues with my IT bands. Initially I thought it was the increase in running distances but I am now certain in it a combination of a big training program and lack of periodisation leading to tight quads & hammies which has been exacerbated by using long lower intensity paddling distances as recovery days to running & cycling, in effect my hips were never rested.

I have now realized that lower back exercises are important for balancing out all that ab work in the ski and as you mentioned, lots of stretching/yoga/pilates
. Getting old sucks... ;)

Current - Carbonology"Flash" Vajda "Infusion II K1" Previously ~Finn"Molokai Mk II"~Knysna "Vantage Pro K1' Carbonology "Vault"~Epic"V10L & Sport"~ [/b]Fenn"Mill Double" ~Spirit"PRS"~Finn"Affinity"
Always looking for the next boat :)

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9 years 3 months ago #7193 by Tom_D
Replied by Tom_D on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
Another voice from the "old age sucks chorus".

I was getting off my bike on a knarly little trail when a slipped hyper-extending my left leg tearing my hamstrings. Ouch, lots of swelling almost instantly... then, apparently the damage was bad enough that the next day the back of my leg from hip past my knee turned deep purple. Still that color after a week...

At first I was worried about an avulsion fracture but I think it is only a tear. I have always been too tight and no amount of stretching seems to help. I felt like the surf ski was helping my back and hamstrings but I guess the evidence contradicts that.

I have been taking it easy since the injury but I tried getting on my Speedstroke today and even normal forward stroke rotation really pulls and hurts. A few more days. I may go to the Doc but here in the States that can be an expensive proposition just to be told to ice and rest.

cheers,
Tom

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9 years 3 months ago - 9 years 3 months ago #7198 by chriswalkeralive
Hey guys, lay off the old age stuff.. really, I see some old wrinklies out there paddling and having a ball of it more than 20 years my senior... either that, or being in the sun, wind and surf has aged them so bad they're 30 looking 90.

I wanted to add another vital variable into this mix of awareness around stretching, and that is hydration.

I recently read an article that claimed 90% of all doctors visits and 92% of all chiropractor appointments could be traced back to poor hydration.

Just before my back went sour, I do remember getting more cramps than normal. I was religiously taking a salt replacement product and was highly committed to Endura additive for cell salts. However, it was obviously not enough, I needed Muscle Ease or similar high Magnesium - Potassium combo... this dehydration could have been the trigger for shortening muscle fibre, tendon soreness and stiff joints.

My Kayak Coach ... Jimmy Walker in Sydney who trains Olympic Level paddlers, had recommended 4-6 litres of water a day minimum ... plain water ... plus cell salts... I tried but spent half my life drinking it and the other half releasing it. I think his advice was spot on.

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9 years 3 months ago #7199 by Dicko
Replied by Dicko on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
I think pedal setup can have a large bearing on hamstring tightness as well.
If your pedals are too long this will also cause the legs to straighten and increase the tightness in your hamstrings. If you feel discomfort, it may pay to shorten your pedals a notch.
The more upright you are and the more rotation you apply the more important it is. The natural tendency is to have the pedals slightly longer, cos it feels more stable. If you are getting pain high in backside adjust your pedals and see if it helps.

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9 years 1 month ago - 9 years 1 month ago #7394 by AR_convert
Replied by AR_convert on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
Thought I'd revive Chris's thread seeing as how his article "Back Pain: Don't do what I did!" has elicited far more comments than this original forum entry.

I have been paddling a few years now after moving to adventure racing from triathlon.

In the past few months I changed my training program for a Multisport event which included around 30km of paddling.

Given that almost every day I run, ride, swim or paddle I put my body through a lot and I am in my early 40's which I've found is not so bad in the endurance area.

BUT, something I have just learnt the hard way is that when you increase your paddling distance and intensity on top on other training you had better make sure you have your spine in proper alignment and health as Chris has found.

I have been a fitness instructor and semi professional athlete most of my life so I know how to warm up, stretch, recover, eat right etc etc, but throwing paddling into the mix has thrown me out of whack when really pushing myself.

As the average ocean ski paddler is in thier 40's they may like to consider this as well.

What I have found is that by trying to keep an upright torso I had in fact been letting my hips fall or rotate forward, this maybe due to the fact that on top of all the other training I do the quad muscles were tight and pulling them forward or I had weaker than I had thought core muscles, either way my L5/S1 disc was causing issues with my hips when running.

I had also had issues with hamstring and IT Band pain which I put down to tightness, but when assessed by a physio was found to be very flexible. The pain was as a result of the aggravated disc/nerves.

I am now on a stretching and strengthening regime and hope to see major improvements in the next weeks so I have a good run at the upcoming AR season.

I would again like to thank Chris for his post, his sharing led me to seeing the physio (and chiro) and this instead of trying to problem solve myself and hopefully will get me right.

The message I guess for anyone wanting to up thier distances and intensity is go and get assessed by your physio/chiro when things start to tighten up and see if it's not a back issue that could potentially stuff you for longer than you need to be!

EDIT: A quick search of the net found this video , it is long winded but hang in there, at about 3.45min it will all come together!

Current - Carbonology"Flash" Vajda "Infusion II K1" Previously ~Finn"Molokai Mk II"~Knysna "Vantage Pro K1' Carbonology "Vault"~Epic"V10L & Sport"~ [/b]Fenn"Mill Double" ~Spirit"PRS"~Finn"Affinity"
Always looking for the next boat :)

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9 years 1 month ago #7395 by chriswalkeralive
AR_convert, Mate, that's a great insight and it's fantastic that you share your experience. I'm just getting back now to paddling, albeit gently, after two months -- ouch.

As I ease my way back into paddling some great feedback has come my way in terms of seating in the ski and maybe I can share it here.

1. Make sure at least 50% of the power of your stroke goes through your heals. On my brand of ski, the footplate is quite vertical and when I move the length out to the correct leg length, my heals come away from the base of the footplate. I'm adding inserts. This is not a generic ski problem because some ski's are designed with more slanted footplate.

2. I'm going to play with seat pads, testing at first with duct taping and then moving to an off market product. The idea given to me by some experienced long distance paddlers is to lift the back of the seat, not under the sit bones (comfort padding) but more to push the lower and upper sacrum away from the back of the seat well... sort of a reminder for the posture development you mention in your post. For me, after 20k i slump badly and don't notice it till a mate screams "sit up Walker" or some more water based expletives...

3. I get off the ski every 30 min of training now. I don't sit down but instead do the Hawaiian Dance to the astonishment of the sunbathers.. I don't do this at nude beaches.. rather I chose more remote spots...

4. Finally, when I finish paddling, instead of throwing my ski on my shoulder and marching 300 meters to the garage, I stretch, and try to carry the ski on my hip most of the way.. I'm nearly 100% sure that carrying my old kayak (24kg) after a race for that distance started my downhill spiral ...

Just a few thoughts in somewhat unexplored territory (everybody is different) as I set myself up hopefully for the next 30 years (I'm 58) of trouble free paddling and more Himalayan Adventures (51st trip coming in May 2012) without back pain...

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9 years 1 month ago #7398 by chriswalkeralive
Here's a great Youtube video of Ken Wallace and a group training. Ken's posture in the K1 is amazing but you can see some of the others in the video - obviously top class paddlers, with slouch... Ken's lift out of his lower back is amazing and must add huge length to his stroke. Link here


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9 years 1 month ago #7399 by grasshopper
Replied by grasshopper on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
Impressive shot from the front, those things are like razor blades.

I've been concentrating on improving leg drive and have been getting soreness where my back contacts the back of the seat.

I'm wondering if this is something you get used to or maybe my ski's leg length needs to be lengthened.

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9 years 1 month ago #7400 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
I think thats pretty common and I wasn't prepared to put up with it. I made my own seat that tilts me slightly forward and also has a cut out to stop the part of my lower spine and pelvis bones that were rubbing on the rear of the seat.

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9 years 1 month ago #7401 by chriswalkeralive
this is where blogs are dangerous. free advice is worth what you pay for it. My suggestion is to hire a coach for an hour. mykayakcoach.com in sydney is perfect but there are many others all over the planet. the ket is to get a coach who is not locked into a brand of ski, who paddles a ski versus a K1 or whitewater, and who has experience with your age bracket.

my back problems evolved out of the exact scenario you describe. i increased rotation, but failed to adapt my ergonomics.

all that said... my experience is now to set my leg length so that my back never touches the back of the ski - however, when i get scared in swell or chop or stupidity - i can open my leg length immediately to grip firmly on the back of the seat. its a spontaneous reaction that i hope gets less and less with time and exposure... i set my paddling leg length in the fully rotated position rather than square. to do this i also had to install adjustable foot straps so i get both push and pull in rotation... this is not expert advice..... its just what Im working on

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9 years 1 month ago #7402 by grasshopper
Replied by grasshopper on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
Thanks Chris and Greg,

I'll definitely look into getting some coaching ASAP.

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9 years 1 month ago #7403 by Kayaker Greg
Replied by Kayaker Greg on topic Re:Busted Back Ouch
chriswalkeralive wrote:

this is where blogs are dangerous. free advice is worth what you pay for it. My suggestion is to hire a coach for an hour. mykayakcoach.com in sydney is perfect but there are many others all over the planet. the ket is to get a coach who is not locked into a brand of ski, who paddles a ski versus a K1 or whitewater, and who has experience with your age bracket.

my back problems evolved out of the exact scenario you describe. i increased rotation, but failed to adapt my ergonomics.

all that said... my experience is now to set my leg length so that my back never touches the back of the ski - however, when i get scared in swell or chop or stupidity - i can open my leg length immediately to grip firmly on the back of the seat. its a spontaneous reaction that i hope gets less and less with time and exposure... i set my paddling leg length in the fully rotated position rather than square. to do this i also had to install adjustable foot straps so i get both push and pull in rotation... this is not expert advice..... its just what Im working on


What part of the above posts do you see as dangerous Chris? You seem to be posting plenty of your own free advice. This is an open forum for people to share their own free experiences. Your saying free advice is worth nothing, whats the point of having a discussion forum then? Please clarify what suggestions you regard as dangerous.

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9 years 1 month ago #7404 by chriswalkeralive
I guess I am just trying to differentiate between my thoughts and the guidance that comes from an expert. Trying to give what I can but avoiding any claim that I'm right.

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8 years 3 months ago #11896 by chriswalkeralive
Ok here's some cool update info on the back article .... Over the 12 months since I got this crappyproblem I've spent hours stretching - thousands of dollars on chiro and Physio and untold amounts of money on herbs and medicine. So it turns out that I took the wrong path. In retrospect it would have been better to visit a sport doctor and they would have done an MRI and found the cyst in my spine that I've just spent a week n hospital having spine surgery to remove. Seems all the best efforts of chiro, Physio and sport osteo didn't recognize that weakness in one leg is usually an alarm bell for deep examination of spinal nerves - five of the best sport Physio in Sydney just gave me more exercise and made the cyst inflamed - I could have bought three great skis with the money I spent. Got a sore back - see a sports med first

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8 years 3 months ago #11898 by Physio
Now this IS where blogs are dangerous, just because "five of the best physios" in Sydney aren't any good doesn't mean there are not plenty outside Sydney.

It was pretty clear from your first post that your symptoms wern't from tight tendons and fused pelvis and giving someone with degen L4 fract L1 and nerve symptoms an exersize program without further testing is pretty uncommon.

Stretching before and after you paddle will not make any diff to injuries. Current evidence shows no link between stretching before exercise and any decrease in injuries.
The following user(s) said Thank You: chriswalkeralive

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8 years 3 months ago #11910 by Dicko
I think your problem highlights the problem of shopping around for a cure. The lack of continuity means the first bloke you see tries something, it doesn't work, you try something else, it doesn't work, alarm bells should ring and an appropriate referral for further tests should follow. By going from place to place you keep going back to square one.
If every person with back pain went to a sports doctor first, the waiting lists would be unmanagable.
I think you need to be proactive and say...this isn't working, what else could it be? Make the first bloke work a bit harder and refer you to the next logical step in the regime. This tends to stop everyone going back to square one like you did, before you eventually get to where you should be.

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8 years 3 months ago #11911 by Physio

Dicko wrote: I think your problem highlights the problem of shopping around for a cure. The lack of continuity means the first bloke you see tries something, it doesn't work, you try something else, it doesn't work, alarm bells should ring and an appropriate referral for further tests should follow.


spot on dicko

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