“How to beat aches and pains if you sail”
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Whether you’re a novice sailing a Sunfish, a 20 something year-old out with a date on a catamaran, or a competitive sailor who lives for regattas, there is nothing like being out there on the water.
And whether you’re sitting around having a cold brew or hiking out on the gunwales of a Laser or cranking up the spinnaker, you will come in contact with the enemy… PAIN!
Neck pain can be due to strain or sprain. Strain occurs when ligaments, tendons, or muscles get stretched. This causes pain, aching and can occur after a long day of being out on the water. Spending too much time looking up at your tell tail can also lead to neck strain.
Sprain occurs when the muscles or ligaments actually tear. Blood and inflammatory chemicals (called cytokines) pour into the area and swelling, pain, and severe spasm result. This can occur if you don’t watch the boom on a jibe and it hits you in the head causing a sprain of the neck.
For both strain and sprain, use ice packs. Keep a towel between the ice pack and your skin to protect your skin from injury. Over the counter anti-inflammatory agents can help.
Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are always a good idea both before and after you sail.
Low back pain can occur as a result of the same types of activities. Sitting for a long time on the boat can lead to low back strain as can lifting improperly. Lift with your legs. Keep your back straight. Keep your head up. If necessary, go down on one knee to lift. Keep the object you’re lifting close to your body. Always test the object before you lift it to make sure you can lift it.
Before you go out work on stretching and strengthening. If you are unfortunate enough to injure your back, go at complete bed rest for at least a day with an ice pack. Gentle stretching exercises may help. See a physical therapist or a chiropractor. If you don’t get better soon, see your physician.
Shoulder problems are also common with sailing. Anytime you haul away at sheets or lift and carry sails and other equipment you are setting yourself up for shoulder problems. This is especially true if you use your arms in a position that is higher than your head. Rotator cuff strain can be a result. Make sure you do shoulder stretching before and after you sail. If you develop shoulder pain, apply ice and use OTC anti-inflammatory agents.
Elbow pain results from any repetitive activity. The most common is lateral epicondylitis. This is a form of tendonitis and affects the outside part of the elbow. If you know you’re going to be doing repetitive motion with the arms, make sure you stretch before and after. Ice your elbow down afterwards. If the elbow continues to bother you, you need to see your rheumatologist or orthopedist. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections help heal tendon problems like this and are much better than cortisone injections which can weaken tendon tissue.
Wrist and hand problems can also occur any time you are using them for repetitive activity. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a particularly common problem. This occurs when the median nerve into the hand is pinched. Symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling can result. Treatment involves splinting, physical therapy, and injection with steroids. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Stretch (is this a recurrent theme or what?) before and after you sail. Use ice on your hands and wrists afterwards.
Tendonitis can be a problem in the hands. Trigger finger… a sticking of the fingers can occur commonly. Sometimes the finger won’t bend… and other times it’ll bend but won’t straighten! Trigger finger is treated with injection.
Hip pain can occur when you sit or if you are trying to maintain your balance. Stretching before and after is a good idea.
Knee pain can result also if you either bang your knee or spend too much time kneeling. Contusions (a type of strain) and bursitis can be the consequence. Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful.
Key points: Sailing is not for sissies. Make sure you stretch and take care of those joints!
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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
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