Chronic and Overuse Injuries

Chronic Injuries: Avoidance and Rehabilitation 

Much of the information previously on this page is in "Surf Survival"

All athletes look for effective methods of dealing with injury. Some of the most frustrating injuries come from overuse. People that do seek medical attention may receive less than optimal care because of a specialist’s unfamiliarity with unique sports and environmental injuries or the athlete/waterman's unfamiliarity with medical specialties. Eastern therapies are quite effective the majority of the time with Yoga, Qi Gong and Tibetan Rites followed by the world's best athletes. An athlete who has been educated about surfing medicine may be more able to identify appropriate and inappropriate treatments in both Eastern and Western medicine. 
Many athletes will begin taking ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to deal with sprain and strain type pain. This may end up being counterproductive as some medicines such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and celecoxib (Celebrex) may increase scar tissue formation. Other medicines, such as meloxicam may be beneficial in early treatment of injuries and corticosteroids have shown modest benefit in aiding muscle healing but require a doctor’s prescription and can cause digestive, hematologic and cardiovascular issues. 

To bypass the prescription process, or by a preference for “natural” therapies, research has gone into noni, aloe, boswellin and curcumin, bromelian and papain compounds derived from aloe, rice, pineapple and papaya respectively among other remedies. Whereas intense medical research and clinical trials of prescription medicines drives the use of medicines such as meloxicam, positive testimonials and basic science research often drives the use of supplements. The most important factor is if it actually works!

“Prolotherapy” or “platelet-rich-plasma injections (PRP)” have been receiving increased media attention as many elite and professional athletes have been receiving them.  

Many traditional complementary and alternative therapies popular among surfers including friction massage, acupressure, acupuncture, cupping (pinpricks and suction to acupressure points) have beneficial effects in accelerating healing time of overuse injuries. 

Perhaps the most important factors in healing and preventing chronic overuse injuries are postural stability and proper nutrition. Important and oft-neglected core shoulder girdle muscles such as serratus anterior, mid- and low-trapezius can influence the probability of a shoulder strain and rotator cuff tear, a malady that will affect a majority of athletes over a lifetime. Core hip girdle muscles such as gluteus medius often atrophy with our crooked and sedentary lifestyle and loss of their function can contribute to maladies such as patellar tendinitis, patellofemoral pain syndrome, arthritis as well as knee and ankle sprains. Posture garments and core retraining exercises with proper equipment and supervision can help fix this.

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