Hip & Back Pain associated with kayaking

 The latest epidemic these days is SITTING.  Most people have desk jobs, then come home to sit even longer at the end of the day scanning through social media or watching a movie.  On weekends rally for a few laps down the river . . . only to sit even more!

When discussing injuries with clients, about 85% of them mention a slight to moderate discomfort in their back.  We discuss their lifestyle and one common denominator is they spend most of their hours during the day just sitting.

Sitting is associated with many issues:

  • Strained Neck and Shoulders.  When sitting, it’s common to hold your neck and head forward while working at a computer or holding a phone to your ear.  This can lead to strains in the upper neck, sore shoulders and back.  It can also tighten the neck and upper trap, while weakening important muscles for shoulder stabilization and healthy shoulder movement.
  • Back Problems.  Sitting puts more pressure on the spine than standing.  The discs in your back are meant to bend, expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients . . . and in return create a healthier spine.  When sitting, the disks are compressed and can lose their flexibility and movement.  Sitting also can increase your risk of a herniated disk.
  • Weak abdominal muscles.  Standing requires you to tense your abdominals.  While sitting they go unused, resulting in weaker muscles.
  • Hip Problems.  Sitting is hip flexion.  So, prolonged sitting limits hip range of motion and tightens muscles, especially with hip extension.  
  • Weak Glutes.  Sitting requires NOTHING from your glutes.  Weak glutes is one of the #1 issues I see in my clients.  Weak glutes affects your stability and power in your lower body.

So, what does all this mean to YOU . . . a kayaker!!!!!  The more we sit (yes, the more hours you spend enjoying the sport of kayaking), the more lower back, neck and shoulder pain you may feel.  

Here are a few recommendations to combat the injuries and discomforts associated with sitting too much:

  • Mobility Work (3-5 minutes)
    • LaCrosse ball your glutes
    • LaCrosse ball your upper trapezius

    • Foam Roll your hips
    • Foam Roll your Thoracic Spine

  • Stability Training for glutes, thoracic spine and core (2-3X10-20 reps)
    • Clams

    • “T’s” with band or weights

    • TA Activation: 

    • Dead Bug Variation 

Perform this routine 3-4 times a week.  

Repetitive stress injuries are very common in sports.  Especially when we love performing a sport so much.  So, in order to continue enjoying your sport without pain (or too much pain that you cannot enjoy it anymore or your performance suffers) it’s important to put your work in off the river, too.  

Please see your doctor or physical therapist if you experience any pain with these movements; if you are working through an injury; or if you are new to an exercise program.  These are just a few of my favorite exercises . . . and, there are many more!  

Enjoy . . . 

Heather Herbeck

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