6 months have passed, and gyms are still closed in San Francisco. By this time, the band workouts and running are starting to become stale. If you are a strong swimmer, it may be time to pick up surfing and add some variety to your exercise routine. For those who are worried about sharks – the odds of you encountering the apex predator are about 1 in 11 million, and the odds of being killed are 1 in 400 million. To put that in perspective, the odds of being killed in a motor vehicle accident throughout your lifetime are 1 in 114. You are more likely to be killed on your way to the beach versus catching a few waves.
Why is surfing good for your back?
Surfing is predominantly an aerobic activity. The endurance aspect is during the paddle out and positioning yourself to catch the wave, which is how you will spend the majority of your time while in the water. Aerobic based activity is great for your cardiovascular health, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, weight loss, and brain plasticity. During endurance exercise, the body increases its production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which prevents cognitive decline that takes place with old age by creating new neurons in the hippocampus and strengthening nerve to nerve connections. Not only is surfing good for your body, it is also good for the mind.
Image A: Desk Posture
Image B: Surf Posture
Image C: Mckensie Exercise
If you see image A, you will see your typical work from home posture with poor ergonomics. She has anterior head carriage, her thoracic spine and shoulders are rounded. Spending your 8-hour workday in this position will predispose you to acute and chronic work-related injuries due to tight/shorten muscles of the anterior chain and inhibited postural muscles of the posterior chain. The good news is that surfing can prevent you from looking like the hunchback from Notre Dame by strengthening your thoracic paraspinals. When paddling in surfing (image b), you spend a majority of your time in thoracic extension, which is often a movement that is restricted in many desk jockeys.
The thoracic extension of surfing also resembles mckenzie exercises, which are used for sciatica and disc herniations to centralize nerve pain. If extension decreases your low back pain, surfing may be a good option for pain-free exercise when your symptoms decrease. However, for people with a spondylolisthesis and facet syndrome, you may not be the best candidate due to the pain related to extension.
If you are interested in trying surfing in the Bay Area, I would recommend Linda Mar State Beach in Pacifica, California. This a great beginner spot with rentals & instructors. Plus, when you are done with your surf session, you can enjoy Taco Bell and a margarita on the beach.
Bay Area Chiropractors are Here for You!
If you sit at a desk and or are tired of the same exercise routine, surfing might be a great way to switch things up and get some great benefits out of it. If pain is your concern, our staff of professional chiropractors and massage therapists know just what to do. Make an appointment with our fantastic bay area chiropractic team to help get you back on a path of wellness. Contact us today!