Injury Management


I mentioned in my last post that “The symptoms of my injury, and the warning signs were there ages ago. I chose to ignore them..” Let me elaborate. My symptoms early on (and hence warning signs) were exceptionally tight pectoral and anterior neck muscles (chest and the front of my neck), a bit of shoulder pain, and a burning pain across the back of my neck.

I stretched my chest and neck, saw the chiropractor to have my neck adjusted, and stopped during a lot of my long sessions to stretch. So “ignoring” was maybe a strong word. I didn’t ignore them, I just treated them. The symptoms. And they subsided. Slightly.

Besides all my athletes, I also coach myself, and I have found that my performance has improved since I took on “HeadCoach” position. No one knows your body like you do. I get as much input from other professionals as possible, but on the whole, I design my programs and sessions. And I think it works. Except when it comes to over-training and injuries. It’s really hard to tell when you have done too much, or need a change, or need to STOP. You sometimes need an objective view for this.

Back to treating the symptoms. Training for Berg and doing many 2-4 hour paddles, the neck pain would start after about an hour of paddling and only feel better when I stopped and stretched it. When I did more quality work, harder intervals and such, its presence was happily missed. The main difference between my cruise mode and speed mode is my technique. I feel that my technique is better when I sprint, and therefore my posture in the boat is too.

All paddlers are guilty of this, when at cruising speed, to slouch a bit, head leaning forward, and shoulders rounded. Stop, sit up, and open up that chest. Changing your technique when you paddle, and holding a better posture will make huge differences to your overall chances of picking up an injury, and, in the long run, make you go faster!

Don’t forget about your posture when sitting at your desk, texting/bbm’ing on your phone, watching TV and driving. It all counts!

I am spending a lot of time working on some basic movement skills, because imagine how strong my specialised skills are going to be, once my basics are at optimal again! I am also spending some time on increasing my shoulder mobility and stability.

I am very excited about 2012, and the very cool opportunities it has in store.

2 thoughts on “Injury Management

  1. If you follow down the path of yoga, which is a bit obscure for most paddlers, it leads to psycho/emotional foundations as part of the cause of injury/pain. Maybe in shorter sprints your state of mind is different to longer paddles… this is a new area of focus in sport psychology for elite athletes.

  2. Michele – very wise words. I’m in an almost identical position, it’s bizzar that it is the little thinks which we ignore, for me it was putting a plastic bucket down that ruined my back in september and am only now starting to paddle again. Two things I think really rang true with what you said, it’s very difficult to be objective and two, most of us are often very specialised, variety is not only the spice of life but also helps build a more rounded and injury resistant paddler. Get well soon.

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