Back Problems - Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!

Thread starter #1
Hi there,

Anyone have any hope/ advice for Laser sailor with back pain - boo hoo!! Have been off the water for about 2 months with lower back pain and a bit of sciatica. I have had bucket loads of professional help - osteopath, physiotherapist etc. Heeding their advice and taking it easy at the moment, some gentle stretching and exercises.
Probably several contributors - but sailing was probably the proverbial last straw this time around.
Have had these acute attacks a couple of times but usually bounce back after a few weeks.
Interested to hear from anyone who's been there, done that, got the tee-shirt!

Thanks.
 

Merrily

Administrator
#2
PlaneSailing said:
Hi there,

Anyone have any hope/ advice for Laser sailor with back pain - boo hoo!! Have been off the water for about 2 months with lower back pain and a bit of sciatica. I have had bucket loads of professional help - osteopath, physiotherapist etc. Heeding their advice and taking it easy at the moment, some gentle stretching and exercises.
Probably several contributors - but sailing was probably the proverbial last straw this time around.
Have had these acute attacks a couple of times but usually bounce back after a few weeks.
Interested to hear from anyone who's been there, done that, got the tee-shirt!

Thanks.
I used to have frequent lower back pain, but mine never got as bad as yours. I guess there's something to be said for years of sloth. When I did have the pain I was only slightly overweight and a lot out of shape. It was worst when I lived on an island, carried my toddler a lot, rowed a couple hundred yards to get to the main island and had to haul groceries from the boat to the house. What should have been idyllic lost its luster when I was flat on my back for days at a time with the pain (and back pain seems to be one of the worst). I treated it by giving it a big rest--we moved from the island. I haven't had a bit of trouble in the last few years, even with plenty of hiking, because of Pilates, which strengthens your core--front, back, sides, up, down and every which ways in a balanced way. I practiced it on a machine with an instructor for a year, then bought my own machine. Now I do it at home at least once a week which seems to work fine to maintain what I've gained. Good luck to you in finding your own cure.
 
#3
When my lower back starts bothering me I bring out my big exercise ball out to my desk and sit on it instead of the chair. Mine is a Valeo Body Ball that I bought from Sports Authority and they come in different sizes. I've read this suggestion on the internet and gave it a try and it worked for me. If you try this make sure you get the proper size for your legs. From what I understand there are muscles that work to keep you balanced when sitting on the ball which also aid in supporting your lower back.

Another thing, make sure your hamstrings are not tight. I also stretch those too.

Cindy
 
#4
Many racing sailors who started on small boats in the 1950's now have lower back problems because of the way we hiked out back (pun) then. Today we strive to keep our backs curved, hunkered slightly, even if the legs are straight as we can get them.
My back and legs hurt when standing around or walking slowly. I use a cane. But sailing the Laser has actually helped the back! After four days of sailing in the Orange Bowl Open regatta last week it felt better than for a long time. The rest of the muscles felt sore, as did the sunburn.
Perhaps the exercize is the benefit.
There is a long discussion of this issue on a forum. But I read so many of them (I write about sailing for a living) that I can't find it right off.
181281
 

aroy

New Member
#5
I have had exactly the same problem since early November. I think I did it golfing, not sailing. An MRI showed a couple of lower discs basically wearing (and therefore bulging) out. Sciatic pain has been driving me nuts for the past 10 weeks. After doing a lot of Googling on the topic, plus through discussions with my physiotherapist, I think the only true remedy is time (plus some gentle stretching and ab work). I also got an inversion table that seems to help a little (basically traction). Last few days have been a bit better, but my physiotherapist believes that 3 weeks of almost no pain to is required to ensure sufficient scar tissue build up to keep the disc tucked in there before getting active again.

I had been planning to go to the Master MWE, but this certainly isn't looking good right now.

Hang in there, and I'm sure we'll be hanging out in the strap again soon.

Moral of the story is, don't golf, just sail.
 
#6
When I did mine in (herniated disk) the doctor said that if I do my ab exercises consistently I'm not going to have any pain. If I don't it's going to hurt. He was right, although I'm not very consistent. One thing that helped me immensely was the VA sent me to a "back school" and they taught us a number of exercises to help stabilize and support our backs as well as things like how to lift properly and so on. The exercise ball idea is a good one and helped me too. Also lots of stretches (especially hamstring), back and abdominal exercises. For me it hurts more when I'm inactive so bed rest actually makes it worse. It took me a couple months to be pain free but since then I've had realatively few problems and Laser sailing hasn't made it worse. Good luck!
 
#7
Have been fortunate enough to avoid identifiable back injury from sailing a Laser - even when weight jackets were the go.

One time last season I felt as though I might be getting some problems - but it turned out that the weekends my back felt worst were those in which I had lifted lots of club and visitors boats/trailers etc. On subsequent weekends when the sailing was much tougher and involved extreeme hiking my back was fine the next day.

Sometimes the lifting on shore is (or can be) worse for your back than actual sailing - do you have (and use) a dolly to launch? Can you slide this and the boat off the trailer without heavy lifting? Is the trailer light and ballanced so it is easy to hitch?

Obviously the above will not offer much solace if you have an identified back injury - but avoiding onshore hazzards may speed full recovery and increase enjoyment on the water. I was just amazed that heavy sailing conditions did not seem to be a problem but simple lifting and wrestling heavy trailers ont the hitch really had a 2-3 day impact.
 
#8
Have you tried chiropractics yet? I know it's not for everyone, but you won't know till you try. There is a new technology that is available now called spinal decompression. Check it out here ( my chiro's website): http://fvchiro.com/index.php and click on "spinemed". Chiro has been magical for me. I go every couple weeks or so.
I hope it works for you, very uninvasive and no meds with crazy side effects.
 
Thread starter #9
Hi All,

Many thanks for your comments. Always good to hear there is light at the end of the tunnel. Seems like speed and robustness of recovery differ from person to person - but don't despair - all will be well .... eventually!

All the points made in the posts are useful - thanks again. For what it's worth, I would add the following tips (obviously with the usual caveats to seek proper professional advice when required):

When you are well - Do something every day (repeat - every day!) to stay flexible and supple - exercise, walk, swim, whatever
Drink loads and loads of water
Ease off on caffeine and alcohol (OMG, I cant believe I wrote that!)

Unfortunately, I dont always listen to my own advice!

Good luck!
 
#10
This is an older thread but maybe some of you are still "tuning in" to it.
Have any of you ever had a cortisone shot for bulging lower disc(s) or a
discectomy? Has anyone confirmed with a specialist/doctor whether or
not certain back positions while hiking will contribute to the problem or
maybe even help to make it better?
 
#11
try a tighter strap, it puts less pressure on your hip flexors. Do lots of ab exercises and work on your flexibility. check out www.corechair.com
there are lots of great ergonomic chairs out there, and you need to correct your posture while sitting before you try to change anything in the boat
 
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