Surfski Injury & Rescue - Fractured Shoulder Caught on Video (*GRAPHIC*)

2 months 2 weeks ago - 2 months 2 weeks ago #38703 by Cryder
WARNING: GRAPHIC SURFSKI PADDLING INJURY & RESCUE ON VIDEO

I am posting something very different for me, and very personal to drive awareness and discussion around injury and paddling safety. This conversation is geared for the more advanced surfski and outrigger paddlers in our community, but should be fruitful for those just entering the wonderful sport of surfski and everyone in between.

Three weeks ago I was injured coming in through the surf in southern California. A wave I thought I had dialed doubled up in size and broke over the top of me. The force was unbelievable, and I instinctively tried to save a bad fall and did a high brace into the top of the face of the breaking wave. Dumb. Move. I heard an explosive crack as I was suddenly buried in white water. When I came up, my shoulder was numb and I watched my ski blast off through the surf and be spit out by the ocean onto the beach. I swam in with one hand, and feeling returned to my numb arm.

I collected my ski, was amused at the power of the car accident-like impact and shook off the attendant soreness like a football player after a brutal hit.

Hours turned into days, and days into weeks. I kept paddling, including some incredible wilderness downwinds and wonderful offshore, open ocean romps. Life was good. Only it wasn't, I just didn't know it.

Flash forward to a 104º F day of record heat in the alpine wilderness of Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park, and you have a sublime recipe for a reality check. A routine brace on a modest wake in my V14 that I had set up for flatwater racing (micro weedless rudder and 1" seat pad) revealed that I had actually completely fractured my shoulder socket, I just didn't know it... yet. Please watch this video. Please reflect on your injury, prep and safety practices.
No one is above an emergency.Learn from this. I did. Had this injury been revealed in any of the water I usually paddle in, I might not be here to post this video for you. Remounting your ski with a broken and dislocated shoulder is not an option. Swimming isn't much of an option. Your pain tolerance isn't an option. Your friends, your radio and your buoyancy are about all you have going for you. If this can happen to me, it can happen to you. Think ahead, paddle ahead.



Lastly, a special thanks to a very special person in my life who was absolutely crucial in getting me out on a dark but otherwise sunny day; Renae Jackson who is a professional Ocean Lifeguard with Huntington Beach and LA County Fire as well as a Sports Biomechanist & Exercise Physiologist. If that wasn't enough awesomeness she's also member of Team USA Sprint Kayak Team. Nice person to have around when things go very, very wrong in a far-flung place involving tippy boats and big country.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Watto, Atlas

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2 months 2 weeks ago - 2 months 2 weeks ago #38704 by Impala
Five failed attempts to relocate the shoulder, probably w/o effective anaesthetics ... OMG, I can't even guess what you must have been through ...

My best wishes that your shoulder will heal soon, but you'll have to be patient.

Injuring your shoulder in high braces in the surf is not uncommon though. Sea kayakers are more familiar with the problem, and more likely to suffer that injury, as they cling to their thigh braces in order not to get washed out of the boat and thus become even more rigid.

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2 months 2 weeks ago #38705 by Arcturus
Thanks for posting that.

After the initial injury, you continued to paddle for several times. Was there any hint on those outings that your shoulder was off? Or if not during paddling itself, what about when doing things such as lifting awkward objects high or pushing down on things? 
It seems strange that there was only numbness that went away and no other sign of the break.

So yeah, advice #1 applies to everybody, including newbies such as myself. I’ve ignored cycling-related injuries that later caused trouble, so your account made me cringe.

Regarding high braces in sea kayaks, the standard warning is to use proper technique to avoid injury, plus many of us choose/chose instead to deliberately roll over and wait for the wave to pass before rolling back up. This actually gets practiced. Obviously, that’s not an option with a surf ski.

Good luck with recovering, and thanks again for posting,

P.S.   The other thing that made me cringe is the shock of capsizing in 51 deg water in 104 air! Good thing you didn’t gasp in a lot of water!

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2 months 2 weeks ago - 2 months 2 weeks ago #38706 by Cryder
Comments in-line below. 

Thanks for posting that.

After the initial injury, you continued to paddle for several times. Was there any hint on those outings that your shoulder was off? Or if not during paddling itself, what about when doing things such as lifting awkward objects high or pushing down on things? 
It seems strange that there was only numbness that went away and no other sign of the break.

 

The doctors were very puzzled by this as well. Their best guess is that I significantly cracked the socket in the surf break, but that the overall alignment of the shoulder was intact... and the modest catch / brace on the wake at just wrong angle completed the break. Sorta like a bridge or building that has a compromised foundation and suddenly fails. 

In terms of paddling again, I was a quite sore the day after the surf break incident and passed on a really heavy day in the ocean because I didn't feel up for it (*fantastic decision!). I then did a flat water session, and things started to likely heal up a bit, and then within three weeks I still couldn't do pushups / pullups, but I was paddling quite well with no residual pain.  

So yeah, advice #1 applies to everybody, including newbies such as myself. I’ve ignored cycling-related injuries that later caused trouble, so your account made me cringe. 

 

Exactly why we made the video. 

Regarding high braces in sea kayaks, the standard warning is to use proper technique to avoid injury, plus many of us choose/chose instead to deliberately roll over and wait for the wave to pass before rolling back up. This actually gets practiced. Obviously, that’s not an option with a surf ski.

 

As you know, skis and kayaks are just different animals. In most situations, an elite ski MUST be paddled with distributed leverage (hand pressure, foot pressure and butt pressure) to balance and propel the craft. I often use (and teach) a low sweeping brace to an opposite side catch (which is actually what I used in this video) as most paddlers fall in at the very end of a low brace when the momentum stops. In the surf break, I went to put the paddle into that same motion reflexively but the wave face just sucked it up high and then smashed down on me. It was very, very fast and powerful. Kinda like brainlessly touching a belt sander with a bit of wood and a insecure grip. 

Good luck with recovering, and thanks again for posting,

P.S.   The other thing that made me cringe is the shock of capsizing in 51 deg water in 104 air! Good thing you didn’t gasp in a lot of water!

   Really wasn't that bad - the air temp was just super hot. Paddle in much colder water most of the year. 

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2 months 2 weeks ago #38707 by Cryder

Five failed attempts to relocate the shoulder, probably w/o effective anaesthetics ... OMG, I can't even guess what you must have been through ...

My best wishes that your shoulder will heal soon, but you'll have to be patient.

Injuring your shoulder in high braces in the surf is not uncommon though. Sea kayakers are more familiar with the problem, and more likely to suffer that injury, as they cling to their thigh braces in order not to get washed out of the boat and thus become even more rigid.

 

Thanks. Sharing this out to get people thinking about injury diagnosis as an often overlooked aspect of paddling risk assessment. Regarding high-brace; See note in my other reply - wasn't really an intentional high brace, just got turned into that by the wave breaking on top of me. 

As for relocating effort - it was the worst pain i've ever experienced by a country mile, but that might be because the fracture wasn't contemplated by the first responder and my muscles had fully seized by that point (very stiff, inflexible). 

 

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2 months 2 weeks ago #38711 by LaPerouseBay

 Had this injury been revealed in any of the water I usually paddle in, I might not be here to post this video for you. Remounting your ski with a broken and dislocated shoulder is not an option. Swimming isn't much of an option. Your pain tolerance isn't an option. Your friends, your radio and your buoyancy are about all you have going for you.  


Cool video, thanks for posting.  Glad you made it out ok. 

Nice wake up call for me to work on shoulder strength. 

Damn, that was a knarly looking injury.  Get well soon. 

This disclaimer at the end of your video is incorrect.  



The Wingman PFD does not impede remount, mobility or swimming.  That's why I bought it.   

It's very small when not deployed, Coast Guard approved (which is not easy).

Nice to have flotation when things go sideways in the water.  Not if, when.  
May save someone else when we need to lend a hand.  

Afib is the one that scares me.  I have no heart issues, but know of a few  guys that have had them out there.  A PFD and a PLB may have saved one of them.  They were on Oc-1's.  Probably not even wearing shirts.  Tough day for that rescue effort.  The surviving partner on that fateful day had to paddle about an hour as his friend died, sprawled on the nose of his Oc-1.     

wingmanlifejacket.com/products/buyhydewingman

downwind dilettante
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2 months 2 weeks ago #38714 by zachhandler
Nick that looked like it hurt like hell. Glad you were able to get help. 

A freak injury like that could be lethal of course if you were alone or off shore in rough water. It really makes me think a PLB should be a required piece of gear, just like an avalanche beacon is for backcountry skiing. Obviously that culture shift is not going to happen any time soon.  Too many people have been paddling too long in tropical climates with nothing but a speedo on their bodies, and 99.99% lived to tell about it. But for me I think my PLB should go from something I take out on bigger and more exposed days to something that just lives on the shoulder of my PFD. 

i don’t wear a PFD on flatwater unless the water is below 60. I’m not sure I would wear one either with 104 heat and 50 degree water. 

The wingman looks cool. The compromises that I can see are that it might not protect against drowning from cold shock (not an issue in hawaii), and it would not help in the case of sudden unconsciousness, as with a sudden cardiac arrhythmia.  There is a local paddle racer who fell out of his boat 2 miles into our thursday night race. V fib arrest. There were other boats nearby that stopped and helped. They were close enough to shore to get him on land, and being right in the middle of a city an ambulance and hospital were minutes away, and he actually survived. I am pretty sure he had a PFD on but I am not 100% certain on that. Ill have to ask him. 

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Epic V12 g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

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2 months 2 weeks ago #38715 by waverider
If you have a PFD on you can take it off if you really feel the situation warrants it, but if you havent got one you cant put one on if you need it.

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2 months 2 weeks ago #38716 by sarzelopez

  Too many people have been paddling too long in tropical climates with nothing but a speedo on their bodies, and 99.99% lived to tell about it. But for me I think my PLB should go from something I take out on bigger and more exposed days to something that just lives on the shoulder of my PFD. 

i don’t wear a PFD on flatwater unless the water is below 60. I’m not sure I would wear one either with 104 heat and 50 degree water. 
 away, and he actually 


Yeah we are guilty, at least in the bigger boats we never wear anything. On the singles I settled with one of those PFD belts that works with a cartridge (similar to the wingman I think, but this one inflates to a pillow) 

@Cryder I got wiped out once and remember describing it just as you said, like I just when through a car crash. It took me way longer than I expected to collect myself. Or maybe I was feeling everything going in slow motion do to the adrenaline. 

Wish you a fast recovery;')! 

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2 months 1 week ago #38727 by Cryder
Thanks everyone for taking a few minutes to watch the video, and then discuss. I have had so many paddlers reach out and share that this is novel to contemplate. This included some pros who often paddle with nagging, long-term injuries. Chronic pain can become acute situation in a hot hurry. 

The real meat is here is that you don't get to pick your emergencies, but the steps you take before one occurs will have a massive impact on what your potential outcomes are. No two days on the water are the same, and likewise your safety protocols need to be specific to the water you'll be flying in today. Mindlessly hopping on the water without a preflight ritual is a recipe for disaster. Sooner or later, something will happen. It might be a nuisance. It might be a close call. It might seriously test you or cost you. We become acclimatized to risk, but the more days we spend out on the water the greater the risk by virtue of exposure we incur. 

This is food for thought, but my preflight includes Equipment Inspection, Last-Minute Conditions Review, Personal Introspection (Asking "What am I trying to accomplish, am I really up for what this? If no, why?"), Internal Group Communication ("What is our plan? 2k Interval & Regroups? Buddy system? Who's the tail gunner?") External Communication ("Where I'll be, when, how long, etc.). 

Regarding PFD's I own lots of them in different configurations, and rarely paddle without one (flat water, summer, paddling with friends). My go-to is generally the Mocke because I like the big kanga pocket. I like the cartridge designs, but want to point out - not airplane friendly, and once you pull that cord you are done paddling and the volume is so XL that getting in the ski again is significantly harder. 

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2 months 1 week ago #38728 by pnwpaddler

Regarding PFD's I own lots of them in different configurations, and rarely paddle without one (flat water, summer, paddling with friends). My go-to is generally the Mocke because I like the big kanga pocket. I like the cartridge designs, but want to point out - not airplane friendly, and once you pull that cord you are done paddling and the volume is so XL that getting in the ski again is significantly harder. 


Just FYI in regards to cartridge designs not being airplane friendly. Many of us oc paddlers have the belt pack with cartridge. Having gone to Hawaii multiple times, we cleared up with the airlines that the cartridges were okay as long as they were in a checked bag.

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2 months 1 week ago #38729 by LaPerouseBay

I like the cartridge designs, but want to point out - not airplane friendly, and once you pull that cord you are done paddling and the volume is so XL that getting in the ski again is significantly harder. 


The wingman has a nifty oral inflation/manual deflation valve in the perfect location.  Very easy to operate.  It is easy to push the relief valve and let out some air if you so desire.

I was surprised how easy it is to swim in if you are faced with a long one.   I did over an hour in 30-40 mph 12 foot seas.  It was a piece of cake.  Zero anxiety or drama.  I made steady progress to shore using mainly my core and legs for propulsion.  Very minimal shoulder action.  My hands/arms were working like those little flippers on the side of a fish.  My head was above water the entire time - well protected when a wave would come thru and wash over me.    

The wingman horse collar shape was really comfy.  Like a pillow.  You woulda been fine with your dislocated shoulder.  That's why I got mine.  Shit happens.  It's water.  If I would have had your adventure, with no PFD, I would have been in a very, very bad way.  Out at sea?  Dead.    

downwind dilettante
The following user(s) said Thank You: Cryder

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2 months 1 week ago #38736 by Cryder

I like the cartridge designs, but want to point out - not airplane friendly, and once you pull that cord you are done paddling and the volume is so XL that getting in the ski again is significantly harder. 


The wingman has a nifty oral inflation/manual deflation valve in the perfect location.  Very easy to operate.  It is easy to push the relief valve and let out some air if you so desire.

I was surprised how easy it is to swim in if you are faced with a long one.   I did over an hour in 30-40 mph 12 foot seas.  It was a piece of cake.  Zero anxiety or drama.  I made steady progress to shore using mainly my core and legs for propulsion.  Very minimal shoulder action.  My hands/arms were working like those little flippers on the side of a fish.  My head was above water the entire time - well protected when a wave would come thru and wash over me.    

The wingman horse collar shape was really comfy.  Like a pillow.  You woulda been fine with your dislocated shoulder.  That's why I got mine.  Shit happens.  It's water.  If I would have had your adventure, with no PFD, I would have been in a very, very bad way.  Out at sea?  Dead.    


This sounds superb. Hi-Vis colors and a bit more of a pocket and this would be hard to beat. Will see if I can get one on backorder (I have some time to kill... haha)

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2 months 1 week ago #38744 by mrcharly
Gosh,  Renae Jackson was brilliant. Quick, clear, decisive. You sure picked the right person to be next to at the time of the accident.

The cascada should have had a swim ladder. (I honestly think all boats should have these). Unless superbly fit and strong, it is very difficult to climb into a boat with any freeboad.

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