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Water Sports and Spinal Injuries

Wakeboarder at sunsetIn the heat of the summer, water-skiing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, or simply diving off the cottage dock are very inviting!

Water sports, like the contact sports, carry risk of injury to the spine and neck.

The risks here arise from the strain that is put on the upper body as the boat lifts you out of the water and accelerates, impact with obstacles in the water, impact with the water at high speed, and impact with the skis or board when wiping out.

Three common types of injury

Ankle and foot injuries are common in activities where the feet are anchored to skis or a board that can violently twist.

Shoulder injuries which often impact the neck, have two common causes – the strain of take-off and acceleration, and our natural tendency to put out an arm when we fall. It can be quite jarring if the arm is the first part of the body to hit the water at high speed. Shoulder injuries can range from strained muscles and impinged nerves to full dislocations.

Head and neck injuries, including whiplash, can arise when you fall and strike an object such as the edge of a dock, or even the edge of your board or ski.

What can you do?

  • Get stronger: Strong joints and muscles are always your first defence. Weight training strengthens major muscle groups, as well as all the small muscles that can help guard against joint-related injuries, like a torn ACL in your knee, or a rotator cuff in the shoulder.
  • Get limber: Stretch and warm up.
  • Get protected: Wear the gear – approved helmets, goggles, and life jackets. You may also want to consider braces for the knees and elbows, as well as a mouth guard.
  • Stay hydrated: The musculoskeletal system, particularly the muscles, work best when they are hydrated. Dehydration springs to muscle cramping, strains or tears.

Watch for the warning signs

Signs of a neck or spine injury are the same as with any contact sport. Neck and/or shoulder pain are the most obvious. But watch as well for headaches, neck swelling, muscle spasms, numbness or tingling in your arms, nausea, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, and blurred vision. These may indicate nerve or disc damage and misaligned vertebrae, or even a concussion.

Mildly strained or sprained muscles can recover in a few days with rest, and the appropriate application of ice or heat. But if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms listed above, seek medical attention immediately.

It is important to remember that any injury to the neck, no matter how minor it may seem, can grow into a chronic problem over time without proper diagnosis and care.

We can help

At Hazeldean Family Chiropractic, we work with patients who have suffered for years with conditions that have led to deterioration of discs and vertebrae in the neck, and have contributed to other health problems, all of which erodes their mobility and quality of life. In many cases, the onset of their condition can be traced back to a single event, such as a sports injury or a car accident, that was never properly addressed.

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