As discussed in my previous article, living and working in Southern California has its perks. It is the perfect climate for those people who enjoy outdoor activities and surfing is one of the most popular. In the first article of this series, I covered the neck and shoulders and the types of injuries a surfer might suffer from. Let’s work our way down the body.
Chest and Rib Knots
This type of injury is unique to surfers. Chest knots or “collagenomas” are fluid-filled lumps on the ribs and sternum that come from paddling in a paddling position while short-board surfing. Draining these lumps has proven ineffective. The best treatment available is the use of ice on the swollen area and some light stretching.
With the abuse that a surfer’s body can go through, rib injuries are very common. At any given time, there could be a bruised, strained, broken, or separated rib from surfing. Some surfers who have high pain tolerances can push themselves too far and actually tear their ribs away from the cartilage that attaches them to the breastbone. This is called a costochondral separation. This type of injury can occur when the surfer pops up on their board or lands hard on their feet.
In the case of a rib injury, there will be pain and tenderness at the site of the injury. The person may also experience pain when they move, breathe, cough or laugh. Rest and ice for a few days will help with the selling and pain. Rib injuries do take some time to heal and could keep you out of the water for a while. Bruised ribs or costochondral separations can take 3 to 4 weeks to heal. Broken ribs take twice that and require treatment by a physician.
The position a surfer is in as he or she paddles will often cause a spinal hyperextension in both the neck and lower back. Just think of the position that person is in as they try to see and paddle at the same time. Prolonged exposure to this can lead to a low back strain or a stress reaction of the vertebrae called “spondylolysis”. If this reaction is allowed to progress, it could cause a stress fracture in the lumbar (lower) spine. Chiropractic care can relieve the stress in the lower back, but if the pain is centered around the spine instead of the surrounding muscles, or if there is any pain shooting down the legs or into the groin, please seek medical care from a physician.
An important part of surfing, the hip flexor and surrounding muscles carry the load when surfers pop up on their boards and maneuver while riding a wave. Muscle strains in this area are common and could leave the surfer susceptible to further injury in the hip-socket. Without proper care and maintenance, it could lead to impingement, functional limitations and arthritis. Stretching can both prevent and rehabilitate these areas.
Like the chest and rib knots listed above, these are associated with paddling on short-boards. These are also unique to surfers and ice and stretching are still the best treatments for this.