There’s a lot more to Wellington than just its wind and waves – it’s also home to some of the best chiropractors in the country. If you’re a surfer, then chances are you’ve seen a chiropractor in Wellington for an assessment and treatment. But what do chiropractors do, and why is it so crucial for surfers? Read on to find out!
Where did it all start for NZ surfing?
Surfing most likely originated in Polynesia (Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti). Although the exact date that surfing began is unknown, historians believe it was “invented” sometime between 1100 and 1400 AD.
Several different types of evidence indicate that Māoris surfed, including archeological evidence, written accounts from explorers and settlers who visited New Zealand in the 1800s, and Māori carvings depicting surfing.
Archeologists had found remnants such as craft shaped like surfboards, suggesting that early Polynesians brought surfing when they settled in New Zealand.
According to oral legends, ancient Hawaiian people crossed the ocean on large wooden planks. Many historians believe this oral tradition reflects a widespread ancient practice and claim it proves pre-colonial contact between Hawaii and other Polynesian islands. While some historians question the historical accuracy of these legends or claim that a canoe fitted with a makeshift sail would be better suited to make such a trip, others say that strong westerly winds and favourable currents would make it possible.
The New Zealand surf lifesaving movement in the early 20th century was a precursor to modern surfing. Lifesavers rescue equipment included hollow wooden longboards up to 16 feet long, paddled through the water to save lives from drowning or other emergencies.
How popular is surfing today?
Surfing is a popular recreational activity practised by many people across the world. Around 38 million people ride waves regularly, including some 12-14 million surfers, meaning surfing is twice as popular as skiing. Furthermore, up to 3.5 billion people worldwide watch surf videos every year!
Surfing is also a relatively common activity in New Zealand and indeed Wellington. A Sport and Recreation New Zealand survey in 2009 suggested that 4.5% (n = 145,620) of people over 16 years of age had surfed in the previous year. A proportion which is surprisingly similar to those who had played rugby union (5.7%).
With 15,000 kilometres of coastline extending over 10 degrees and facing two oceans—the Tasman Sea off its south-west coast or the Pacific Ocean on its east side—kiwi surfers are often less than an hour from suitable waves to ride. In fact, 90% of kiwis live within 40 minutes of a beach.
Surfing and surf lifesaving in Wellington
Wellington is not world-famous for its beaches, but it still has some reasonably good places to surf, such as Lyall Bay and Scorching Bay. Surfers in Wellington are also known for riding the waves at Evans Bay when there are large swells.
The first surf lifesaving club was founded on the shores of Lyall Bay and New Brighton in 1910. There are seventy-four clubs across New Zealand, with over 4,500 lifeguards patrolling beaches every summer.
Wellington has three leading surf lifesaving clubs:
- Lyall Bay Surf Life Saving Club, established in 1910
- Maranui Life Saving Club, established in 1911
- Worser Bay Life Saving Club, also established in 1910
The volunteers patrol the surrounding beaches, helping people who have trouble in or out of the water. They are often the first responders to any severe incident and help keep us all safe to enjoy our beautiful beaches.
Why surfing and chiropractic care?
Surfing is a great way to enjoy the ocean and get some exercise. However, it can be tough on your body if you’re not used to it. Chiropractic care can help keep your body in top shape, so you can continue surfing for years. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced surfer, make sure to schedule regular chiropractic appointments.
While generally perceived as a healthy form of outdoor recreation, surfing and surf-related activities do have attendant risks of injury, including:
- Spine injuries, particularly the lower back or lumbar region.
- Knee injuries, particularly to the inside of the knee or the ‘medial’ aspect.
- High ankle or ‘syndesmosis’ sprains, where the foot is forced upwards towards the shin.
- The repetitive paddling motion may cause wear and tear in the rotator cuff tendons.
- Surfer’s myelopathy, a rare spinal cord injury caused by hyperextension of the back.
- Other dislocations and fractures.
Surfers also face less severe health and injury problems such as:
- cuts and lacerations
- swimmer’s ear
- surfer’s ear
- chafing, which can lead to skin rashes
- jellyfish and other stings
- minor eye injuries.
According to the research study Surfing Injuries Requiring First Aid in New Zealand, 2007-2012, the reported incidence of injury ranges from 2.2 to 3.5 injuries per 1,000 hr of recreational surfing and around 6.6 per 1,000 hrs for competitive surfing.
Surfing is a great way to get in touch with nature and enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a fantastic workout that can help you stay in shape. But with any sport, there is a risk you will get injured, so chiropractic care can help keep you in the best possible condition to continue doing the sport you love.
What are some injuries common to surfing that chiropractors can help with?
If you’re like most surfers, you take pride in your ability to ride the waves. But what happens when you’re injured and can’t hit the water? With chiropractic care, many injuries can be prevented and treated so that you can get back to surfing as soon as possible.
Spinal injuries are common in surfers, notably lower back pain or disorder in the lumbar region. This is because when a surfer is paddling out into the ocean or during a wipeout, they can overextend their spine and cause damage to the discs in-between the vertebrae.
Surfers are also at risk of developing a condition known as surfer’s myelopathy. This condition arises from hyperextension of the back. Surfer’s myelopathy is very rare and more likely to be reported among novice surfers who have been lying prone on a surfboard with the lumbar spine hyperextended for prolonged periods.
The compression of the spinal cord can cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in symptoms such as neck pain, loss of coordination or balance, tingling or numbness in arms and legs, tremors, paralysis, memory problems, vision disturbances (such as double-vision), and other related symptoms.
Treatment is dependent on symptoms and may include anti-inflammatory medications or chiropractic treatments.
Lumbar disc herniation
Lumbar disc herniation is an injury that can be caused by surfing. It is one of the most frequent causes of lower back pain and is typically caused by a blow to the lumbar spine. The outer layers of discs separate, resulting in a herniation. This results in lower back pain and is associated with tingling or numbness of the legs. Treatment depends on the degree of injury but typically includes medicine for inflammation, chiropractic and physical therapy, epidural injections, and discectomy.
Surfers should also use foam rollers to help them stretch their backs before and after surfing, use proper technique when paddling, and make sure to do dynamic exercises before or after surfing.
Headache and migraine
Headache and migraine are other conditions that surfers may experience because of the intensity of the sport. The sudden high stress on the neck muscles can cause migraines, which typically present themselves with pain on one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity.
Surfer’s migraines usually clear on their own after a few days, but treatment may also include a chiropractic adjustment or medicine to reduce the pain and inflammation, such as ibuprofen.
Surfer’s elbow is a painful condition where the tendons of the forearm muscles are damaged. The injury occurs at the insertion point of the tendons into the bony knob on the outside of your elbow.
Surfers who perform paddling actions repetitively over time are most likely to injure their elbow in this way. The problem can also affect surfers who constantly turn their hands or paddle backwards (supination). It is more common in people with poor paddling techniques and bad body alignment.
Repetitive compression at the insertion point where the tendons join the bone in the elbow causes inflammation of the tendon sheath. This is called ‘tendonitis’.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether symptoms are caused by surfers elbow or tennis elbow, which is also common. Surfers elbow symptoms include pain in the upper forearm where it joins at the elbow, usually with swelling and tenderness. It is worsened by gripping, twisting and bending the wrist.
Surfers elbow can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and chiropractic treatment. If symptoms persist or worsen, then a corticosteroid injection into the area may help to speed up the recovery process.
Surfers elbow can be prevented by keeping the body in good alignment when paddling, keeping correct technique and using the right equipment. Weight training of the muscles around the shoulder may also reduce the likelihood of injury.
Surfing injuries affecting the shoulder
Injuries involving the shoulder joint could be divided into traumatic and overuse injuries. The second type of injury appears when too much stress is applied to tendons and muscles that cross through the area surrounding the shoulder joint. The main problem is inflammation of one or more tendons or muscles around the shoulder joint in these cases.
The repetitive motion of paddling causes wear and tear in the rotator cuff tendons, which is painful. This can be damaging to both young and old. Shoulder injuries are likely more common among surfers that don’t correctly warm up before getting into the water.
The rotator cuff muscles attach to the shoulder blade or scapula. The supraspinatus muscle is located on the top part of the rotator cuff. The infraspinatus and teres minor muscles are present on the outside bottom corner of a person’s shoulder: The tendons from these three muscles aid in rotating a surfer’s arm outward when paddling. When these tendons become inflamed due to overuse, they can cause severe pain near a surfer’s outer shoulder.
If not treated promptly, surfers can develop arthritis, limiting their ability to perform certain sports in the future.
The many benefits of surfing
Chiropractic care is as much about living a healthy lifestyle and preventing injury and disease as treating disorders. The many benefits of surfing align perfectly with a balanced lifestyle.
Surfing is often done with friends or family, strengthening social ties between individuals and their community. Surfing is fun, but it also brings people together to form relationships that last the test of time. For example, the chance to bond with friends over a shared interest in surfing has created lasting friendships between surfers who have spent hours on their boards out at sea catching waves.
Surfing is known for being both physically and mentally beneficial. The physical benefits include building core strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and balance skills. Some people are motivated by having fun while exercising or doing something new, which builds up their self-confidence and enjoyment of life in general.
The mental benefits of surfing are known to reduce stress levels through calming the mind because all thoughts are put aside when focusing on mastering the ocean. As well as this, surfing keeps the mind sharp because it is challenging.
Surfing also has community benefits by bringing people who may never have interacted otherwise. For example, surf clubs promote participation in their local surf community. This encourages social cohesion whilst reducing crime rates locally due to increased positive interactions between community members.
Consider chiropractic care to help you stay in the water
If you’re a surfer, you know the importance of staying injury-free. Unfortunately, even the most experienced surfers can find themselves on the wrong side of an accident or just wear and tear. When that happens, it’s essential to have access to quality chiropractic care. We specialise in sports chiropractic and helping injured surfers get back on their boards as quickly as possible. Schedule an appointment today, and let us help you get back in the water.