The media generated over heavy crashes and not wearing a buoyancy vest sparked the topic for my first article.
In wakeboarding there is adrenaline and risk, and these factors go hand in hand with injury. If you want to get back on the water, rehabilitation is a must. And through my 15 years as a gymnast and 10 years as a wakeboarder, I have had my fair share of both injury and time spent in rehab...
Injury prone areas in wakeboarding include knees, shoulders, backs and arms/biceps (hurt after going through the handle). Concussion is a common occurrence and, sadly, there have been dangerous drowning scenarios due to not wearing appropriate, if any, flotation devices.
Injuries are extremely hard to prevent in any sport, especially at the highest level. When you are pushing your body to go beyond its known limits, there is a fine line that athletes will continually cross in order to excel and become better at their chosen sport.
In wakeboarding, visualization, aerial sense and knowledge of the move about to be performed is a huge part of injury prevention. If you know where you are in the air and have an idea of how to perform the trick, you create body knowledge during the move and know that it is not working out, enabling you to abort and crash safely.
Learnwake.com is a great website to gather all the information needed in learning the progression of tricks on the wakeboard ladder.
There are so many different types and forms of injury prevention and rehabilitation. Everybody is different and different forms of medicine work better with different body types. Be open to trying various methods until you find what works best for you.
Acupuncture (eastern medicine) is a method I have been using for 15 years and it works extremely well for rehabilitation, maintenance and injury prevention. It is the procedure of inserting and manipulating filiform needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are situated on meridians along which qi (a "life energy") flows.
C.H.E.K. (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) training is a great form of injury prevention and low impact training while in an intense contest riding season. Pro surfers, including Mick Fanning, use this form of training. It includes multi-body part training intensifying the core workout with every exercise. Whilst riding a lot over my summer, I found this training to be a great strengthening tool while being low impact on my joints, enabling me to push hard in training.
Physical therapy (also physiotherapy) is a western medicine health care profession that provides treatment to individuals to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function throughout life. I have successfully used eastern and western medicine hand in hand to encourage a speedy recovery when rehabbing an ailment. Using physical therapy one day and acupuncture the next really brought my knees back strong from ACL reconstructions.
Yoga refers to traditional physical and mental disciplines originating in India. The goals of yoga are varied and range from improving health to achieving release. The type of Yoga that I practice is Ashtanga. This method of Yoga involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures, a process producing intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. The result is improved circulation, a light and strong body and a calm mind.
Gym/Weights - Solid weight training programs are critical to accomplish the building of strong, lean muscle mass. During the off season this is a vital training tool in order to build the strength lost while traveling in peak season or during winter whilst not riding. In the gym I prefer to keep to around 12 to 15 reps using quite a heavy weight, but still be able to finish three sets of the rep. I mainly focus on my shoulders and legs.
Massage is the manipulation of superficial layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance the function and promote relaxation and well being. Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage promotes recovery and prevents injuries from developing from a small irritating sprain to a torn ligament. Massage is a vital recovery device, which should be used on a regular basis in correspondence to the amount of exercise performed per week. I try to incorporate at least an hour of massage per week into my routine.
Accidents will happen in wakeboarding and having the right equipment will help ensure the best possible outcome. If you have a huge crash, ideally you want to come out of your bindings. If you are concussed, you need to be floating on top of the water. When these heavy falls happen, seek professional medical advice as soon as possible and follow the advice of doctors.
With all these methods of training and rehabilitation, it is important to remember not to push your body to hard. If you push too hard in rehab, you are not going to come back as strong because your body has not had enough time to heal. You can’t push yourself 100% every day, otherwise your body becomes weak and injury prone.
Knowledge of your own body and listening to what it is telling you also helps in injury prevention. Developing this realization takes years of experience.
And some wise words from a Panda Express Fortune Cookie, "Past inspirations and experiences will be helpful in your job."