Back Patience

The ‘Back’ground

Back injuries are deflating to the human psyche and can take weeks to months, even years to fully heal. Research indicates that 9 out of 10 adults will go through some type of back pain in their life and may develop arthritis several years after the injury (wikipedia and WebMD). Moreover, the sedentary career styles in the 21st century have created a dramatic increase in back issues because sitting for long periods of time weakens your back from inactivity. Sitting for hours at a time causes muscles in your leg and stomach to shorten and tighten up, which causes the vertebrae in the back to straighten the natural curve of the spine. Losing the natural curve brings pressure and strain into the back. High impact sports like snowboarding, surfing, and skating are predispose to back injuries from the high impact landings. In the US over $50 billion dollars is spent each year on treatments for back problems. Our body stays in prime condition when it’s in constant motion, so get up, walk or stretch from time to time during the day. I have my own story of back problems, twice, which led to bedridden for 3 months at the age of 31. The injury stole my athletic career. I thought I was too young to be going through a serious back problem (herniated vertebral discs). I worried that I was going to be handicapped for the rest of my life.

The complex architecture of the vertebra column has four sections, cervical (top area), thoracic (mid area), lumbar (lower mid area) and the sacral (bottom). The spinal column is made up of 33 vertically connected bones covering the spinal cord. Fitted between the vertebra are intervertebral discs. The discs are like jelly filled doughnuts that fill in the spaces between each vertebra in the spinal column. These discs absorb the pressure to your spine during movement, so you can live a pain free active lifestyle. When there is too much pressure on the spine the discs will expand but if there is a constant or high impact compression, the discs may bulge out of the spinal cord and push against the nerves. This can cause phantom pains and muscles spasms throughout the body. If a disc is pressured too much for too long it may herniate (rupture), the jelly squeezes out of the disc and into the nerves, initiating inflammation. When inflammation kicks in, the nerves fire uncontrollably and the muscles around your back lock up causing more pain.

 

 

The Mental Fight

My first injury occurred from towing at waves using a Jet ski for 7 hours non-stop. Tow-ats are brutal on your body if you don’t know what you are doing. The second injury occurred nearly 7 months later in my lumbar L3, L4/L5 discs, from combination of snowboarding, followed immediately by several long flights straight into North Shore Hawaiian waves. After the first injury, I received a cortisone shot to halt the inflammation. In a few weeks I felt good enough to surf again. I thought I wouldn’t need too much recovery time. Little did I realize what a mistake I was about to make. When the cortisone shot wore off, the discs blew out and I was on my back in horrible pain for 3 months. The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the location of the herniation. With mine at L3, and L4/L5 I developed sudden on set of loss of feeling and inability to move my left foot, also called drop foot. The muscles tightened up in my left leg and hip, with continual leg spasms that made it painful to walk. I consulted several physicians and all suggested surgery (Discectomy) to repair the discs. However, Dr. Sten Kramer (Newport, California) had worked with other athlete’s, surfers particularly who had gone through similar back problems. Dr. Kramer utilized non-surgical methods to achieve full recovery. Dr. Kramer suggested anti-inflammatory drugs, including both cortisone and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (Mobic) to stop the swelling. After a month, a Psychical Therapist was needed to promote my recovery, to build and train my muscles to prevent more damage during physical activity. I was so down on myself at that moment, thinking none of this was going to get me back to having an active lifestyle let alone surfing. However my first hint of hope came after, the cortisone and anti-inflammatory drugs got me to my feet, yet I was still hobbling around and still in serious pain, and NO surfing. My friend Jeremy Sherwin suggested I see his Physical Therapist, Brad Jones the founder of b project (Carlsbad, California). Brad is well known in the snowboard community as one of the best PT’s in the business, but in the back of my head I was skeptical he might not be able to help with my back problem and I didn’t want to risk more pain.

 

Patience versus Quick Fix

A major part of going through a back problem or any physical problem for that matter is how vulnerable the injury makes you feel. Anything for a quick fix becomes the goal. I found myself trying all sorts of things to alleviate the pain, which in the end delayed me from what I really needed. There is a secret for repairing a back problem, it is patience. A back problem means there’s an imbalance in the mobility of your body. Your body needs to retrain to re-balance itself. I calmed down and realized I needed patience, time and hard work to recover.

I called up Brad Jones and talked to him about his experience working with patients with back problems. Brad works with people everyday with these types of injuries. I was shocked on how many people could be going through similar pain as me. After a thorough assessment, Brad started to massage the nerve off the muscle, loosening up the atrophied muscles in my left leg and hip but I quickly realized, I needed a new level of pain tolerance. After I wiped the tears away from my eyes, Brad prescribed me stretching exercises that I could hardly do without screaming in pain. I was starting to doubt whether I had made the right choice. After a week of the stretches and painful massages, to my surprise the pain began to subside. I had another dose of hope again to achieve an active life and maybe surf. Brad said after the muscles are loosened, the hard work toward repairing and prevention would begin. Brad helped me retrain and strengthen my hip and core muscles to take the impact pressures that will allow me to surf again. After two months of the training and stretches ritually, I was back in the water. YES! My confidence was coming back, too. And after a year of working at the b project, I was surfing better than when I was competing full time. Why? Because I took the long road to build a solid foundation of muscles to protect my back and reset the imbalance. I have to work a lot harder to stay in surf shape now, but once you have worked that hard to build yourself back up to health and that quality of life, you realize there’s no desire to go back. Stretching, warm-ups and training is a fact of life, like brushing teeth. Now I have the reward of healthy and strong back.

 

New Quality of Life

Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open revealed how much back pain he had in his tennis career, on some days he just couldn’t make it to the court. When I start feeling tightness in my back, I go through thoughts of should I keep pushing through or should I choose patience, do my warm-up and stretches. I always know doing the warm-ups and stretches is the long road but this is the best route for my back. That long road leads me to the pleasure of surfing, pain free. If I can offer a piece of advice to those with back pain, stop looking for the quick fix. Ask yourself for patience, time, effort to heal and repair, and connect with a knowledgeable Physical Therapist. A physical therapy program goes the long way in the recovery and sustainability of your body. Surfing requires a lot of back movement, so make your legs, hips and core strong and that will take the strain off your back. When your back feels tight take time to relax your leg and hip muscles with stretches or a foam roller or a good massage.

Below is a foam roller exercise and a light stretch routine to loosen up the legs, each stretch hold 30 seconds x 2.

 

Sources

http://www.kramermedical.com

http://www.delmarchiropracticsports.com

http://bprojectphysicaltherapy.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_problems

http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/guide/back-problems-and-injuries-topic-overview

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_drop

http://www.medicinenet.com/meloxicam/article.htm

Open An Autobiography by Andre Agassi, 2010

Get your Life Back, The Ultimate Guide to Healing a Herniated Disc by Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr. 2007

Jazzy Queeny

Manly has had a few good swells come through this fall.  This particular swell lit up the northern beaches.  I paddled out before dark at Queenscliff corner and had some special waves.  Charlotte was in the background capturing the uniqueness of the session and bringing jazzy vibes to the session.

 

The outside Bombie at Manly.

The outside Bombie at Manly.

photo by Blaise Bell

photo by Blaise Bell

New Simon Anderson "XFC"

New Simon Anderson “XFC”

Puerto Escondido flashbacks

Puerto Escondido flashbacks

Queeny Corner paddle out

Queeny Corner paddle out

Fairy Bower in the background and empty peaks in the foreground

Fairy Bower in the background and empty peaks in the foreground

Overview

Overview

Photos by Blaise Bell and Charlotte

Austin Sneed RIP (1990-2014)

Seaside and groms go hand and hand. There is always a high talent pool that comes out of Seaside. When I first saw Austin Sneed surf I thought there was a young Dane Reynolds out at Parking Lots. I watched him wave after wave, race down the line and commit to the biggest move he could.  It got me pumped up and I paddled out and said “your tail hucks are mental”.  Then I asked him what his name was, he said “Austin”, I was a lil shocked to hear we had the same first name. I figured it would be confusing if we called each other by our first name, so I asked him what his last name was, he said “Sneed” and from then on we called each other by our last names.  I started to get to know him while he was in High School while doing a bunch surf missions together. I became a big fan of his surfing and found myself trying to go bigger because of him. He came off mature for his age because he was never scared to flare up the older guys at Seaside and he would suggest they should turn a lil harder or take off a lil deeper next wave. This would make me laugh but he had good heckles for me too, when my airs didn’t make it above the lip, he called them “Ware-aerials” ;)  As time went on I saw less and less of Sneed but when I did see him he was surf stoked and would froth me up to get above the lip and catch a few at waves with him.   At the age of 24 years old, Sneed has passed away and I feel remorse not to be able to see more of his tail hucks and hear more of his heckles at Seaside.  In memory of Sneed and his tail huck turns, the “Sneed-huck” is what I will be calling tail hucks for now on.

If any groms or surfers are struggling with problems and need help, they can reach out to me.

Photos by

Billy WattsChris StraleyRob KeatonDarlene Conolly

Sneed at Parking Lots

Sneed at Parking Lots

Dane Reynolds a la "Sneed Huck"

Dane Reynolds a la “Sneed Huck”

Sneed Huck

Sneed Huck

The boys goofing off for a Transworld shoot. Left to right: Sneed, Nick Suhadolink, me, Ryan Burch, Nick Kovack Kyle Knox and Eric Snortum

The boys goofing off for a Transworld shoot. Left to right: Sneed, Nick Suhadolink, me, Ryan Burch, Nick Kovack, Kyle Knox and Eric Snortum

Flash tubes

Flash tubes

San Dieguito Academy 2008 team, NSL Game Regional Champions.  Left to right: Nick Suhadolink, Ryan Burch, Dave Suhadolink, Eric Snortum, Corey, Jeremy Sherwin, Brad Hugglund, Oly Norris, Nick Olsen, JD Lewis and Sneed.

San Dieguito Academy 2007 team, NSL Game National Champions. Left to right: Nick Suhadolink, Ryan Burch, Dave Suhadolink, Cory Gabriola, Eric Snortum, Corey, Jeremy Sherwin, Brad Hugglund, Oly Norris, Nick Olsen, JD Lewis and Sneed.

RIP Sneed from the Seaside Mob

RIP Sneed from the Seaside Mob

Boardriders

I have been living in Manly, Australia for the last 5 months now and a difference I see between the USA and Australian surf communities are the development of the shortboard surf clubs.  Although the surf club idea started in America with Windansea club (La Jolla, California) and Malibu Surf Club (Malibu, California) in the 1960’s and it has stayed a tradition with longboard community around California. The Windansea surf club came to Australia in the 1970s and traveled around and set up club branches (in Sydney, Gold Coast and Sunshine coast).  Malibu being know as a famous longboarding spot had such influence on the Australians that the Aussies call Longboards “Mal’s” (short for Malibus).  Now there are surf clubs (Australians call them Boardriders) all along the beaches, each club associated with a surf spot Australia. The club idea inspired Australian surfers and it became a nation wide ritual for longboard and shortboard clubs.  The Australians separate longboarding and shortboarding clubs, each having their own clubs because of different views of how to surf a wave.  Also the longboarders and shortboarders don’t get along because the difference in the length of their sticks, but we all know it’s not the size of the stick but it’s the rhythm you create with ocean ;-)

The Boardriders start with community membership, on average its $60 annually to join. You have the choice to participate in monthly events, like local surf competitions (each Boardriders runs the events), tag team events, beers with the boys, club trips and Charity Balls.  The Australian Boardriders and Life Saving Clubs control the prime real estate on the beach at their specified breaks.  The buildings are setup with the help from the government, then clubs generate revenue by using the buildings for rent as conference rooms, gyms, pubs or restaurants and even mini gambling casinos.  The Boardriders also make money through sponsorships from local companies or surf industry brands that they use to fund equipment or team trips.

The Aussie Boardriders have a sick tag team series with Global surf Tag, where a lot of the clubs compete against each other for pride and money.  Imagine how good the Boardriders would work for The Game? Seaside Club versus Rincon Club, or Snapper Rocks   club versus Lower Trestles club, it would be amazing. There’s so much passion and community support when comes down to competition and local surf spot clubs.  The Game format would be amazing to show case the local talent from the area, use the camaraderie within the clubs and bring club versus club to see who has the best locals.

The idea of having surf clubs is great for the community vibe and local support.  I feel it would be a huge hit in America to have organized shortboard clubs at some of the top surf spots.  It creates an influential team from the area from young mini groms, beginners, to the top pros and older gurus. From an early age groms would have a more structured way of learning about ocean skills, respect in the lineup, equipment and history from their club members. It is also a great place for somebody to try his or her’s first competition. I have recently joined the Queenscliff Boardriders club (QBC) and it’s been inspirational to see everybody in the club ripping and frothing around the events. I’m enjoying the vibe and I think it would be cool to pass it on to my local surfing roots at Seaside Reef.

References

www.windanseaboardriders.com.au

www.msasurfing.org

www.windanseasurfclub.org

www.qbc.org.au

www.NSLGame.com

www.globalsurftag.com

Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club

Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club

Snapper Rocks Surf Club

Snapper Rocks Surf Club

Currumbin Surf Club on the Gold Coast

Currumbin Surf Club on the Gold Coast

QBC Setup

Queenscliff Boardriders Club (QBC) Setup

QBC Tag team

QBC Tag team

Team Spirit

Team Spirit

Queenscliff looking at Manly

Queenscliff looking at Manly

One

One

Two punch

Two punch  Seq: Daniel Williams

Charlotte competed in her first heat at QBC

Charlotte competed in her first heat at QBC

Maisuma

Maisuma, is portugese for one more. Maisuma blog is about a mini french girl travels through life and one more glass of wine.  I have been dating this mini (Charlotte is her name) for 5 years and recently I have been living with her in Australia. Charlotte has been documenting the adventure with her styley camera and poetic french words (sorry its not in english but you will get the pictures).  So enjoy and have some wine and chesse as you view along.

Mini's

Mini’s

Ripping on a Tomo board at Bells

Ripping on a Tomo board at Bells

 

So Cal Pro Championship Title

After my win in Imperial Beach last week, I entered a few more local pro events to finish up the season of California events. At the end of week I competed in the America Pro Surfing Series at Huntington Beach with an epic combo swell running. I had alot of competitive heats and made the final (2nd place) with my good friend and Bodyglove team rider Nate Yeomans (4th place). Nate and I made our first final together at HB Pier 13 years ago in an local Pro Jr event which Nate ended up winning and since then we have a healthy competitive comradery through our careers.  The next day I went down to Pacific Beach to compete in the Revolt Summer Series to keep my streak of pro events flowing and win my first Southern California Pro Championship Title (just made the title up, haha) . There was some waves around the PB area and the competition was exciting because of the Smith Grudge Match format. In the format, if you are the top seed, you pick the guy you want to surf against and go man-on-man (no priority). I picked somebody I didn’t know and surfed my way through to the final again and finished 3rd overall (four man final). I had a great time competing again after my back injury last year. It was an exciting challenge for myself to step back into the ring to compete to win. My results out of 6 events were two- 1st place finishes, two- 2nd place finishes, a 3rd and 5th to bring the So Cal Pro Title to Solana Beach. Thanks to my family, friends and sponsor for their support.

Irene, Mom, me, JD Lewis, Susan

Irene, Mom, me, JD Lewis, Susan

PB waves

PB waves

HB Pier

HB Pier

RSSS 3rd

RSSS 3rd

APSS backside turn

APSS backside turn

APSS hack

APSS hack

APSS at HB. Nate Yeomans, Chris Waring, me, Cory Arrimabide

APSS at HB. Nate Yeomans, Chris Waring, me, Cory Arrimabide

Dempsey Pro

The Dempsey Pro was named after a pioneer surfer of the Tijuana Sloughs and a legend in Imperial Beach, named Dempsey Holder.  Wildcoast put on a pro division for their 10th annual surf event down in Imperial Beach. I remember IB had Pro surf events back in the 80’s and 90’s with the Bud Tour, so I have always wanted to surf a pro event down in the historical town. My long time friend Zach Plopper was running the event and picked a good window to run the event at the end of September when Cali gets our combo swells from the south and north, the water is still warm and the Santa Ana’s start to blow. Zack was creative with the format that had everything from no-losers round, to four man heats and man-on-man.  I had just arrived fresh from Australia the night before with a magic Simon Anderson surfboard and straight into shoulder hi punchy peaks. I built my rhythm up through the day and had some competitive heats all the way to the final where I finished up on top. It felt great to have a win in my surf native San Diego area and be part of the history of the pro surf events in Imperial Beach. I love the competitiveness of trying to win but what I really like with surf comps is the great time hanging all day with some good friends at the beach.

Photos by Paul Gallegos and Alfredo Ramirez

Beer in the face feels and taste good after a sick day of surfing

Beer in the face feels and taste good after a sick day of surfing

Zack and I

Zack and I

Jeff Lukasic and I before the final

The finalist, Sean Pearson(4th) from Oside but living in Nicaragua , Brandon Roberts(2nd) from South Africa but living in Ocean Beach,  Jeff Lukasic (3rd) from San Clemente

The finalist, Sean Pearson(4th) from Oside now living in Nicaragua
, Brandon Roberts(2nd) from South Africa now living in Ocean Beach, Jeff Lukasic (3rd) from San Clemente

Clean Fall conditions

Clean Fall conditions

IB punch

IB punch