Surfers’ spines receiving special attention at the 2012 Australian Open of Surfing.
Surfers’ spines receiving special attention at the 2012 Australian Open of Surfing.

Surfers wiped out by pain

WEEKEND surfers could learn a lot from the pros when it comes to preventative healthcare and immediate injury treatment, according to chiropractors who are working with some of the world's best boardriders at the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach this week.

Chiropractor and sometime-surfer Dr Andrew Burgess, who works with Surfing NSW and Surfing Australia, said amateurs were susceptible to the same sorts of injuries as the pros and sometimes even more so because they might not be in the best shape or have a good general fitness base.

"Surfers are notorious for pushing through the pain barrier in search of that elusive big wave, preferring to grin and bear it rather than be told to hang up the board for a while," Dr Burgess said.

"But when surfers seek treatment for their injuries early, they can usually be back on the beach in no time at all,and riding the waves even better than before.

"Chiropractors can help both pros and amateurs by correcting joint alignment, relaxing tight muscles, providing exercise programs, improving mobility and advising on correct warm up routines.

President of the Chiropractors' Association of Australia (New South Wales), Dr Kerein Earney, said chiropractors often report a wave of "surfer's spine" and "boardrider's back" conditions at this time of year.

"Our members see an increase in the number of amateur surfers presenting with shoulder, neck, back and hip sprains and strains after the summer holidays," Dr Earney said.

"All that time paddling with the neck hyperextended can cause knots in the neck and pain across the shoulders as well as poor posture and low back problems.

"Not to mention the more serious injuries which occur when surfers wipe-out, get churned up in the white wash and sometimes even spear-head the bottom."