We got a call from a competition surfer from Huntington Beach earlier this week, looking for sports massage therapy. He was practicing down at the Wedge in Newport Beach and managed to tweak a muscle in his lower back. After seeing some of the maneuvers these guys pull off, it’s easy to see how. Surfing is a demanding sport, with unique extremes. Calm, tranquil, and ‘laid-back’ one minute; rough, unpredictable, and physically demanding the next – often with little warning in between.
In addition, Surfers will spend long periods of time partially submerged in water that is substantially cooler than body temperature, which can lead to decreased blood circulation when there’s a crucial need for it – such as dropping in on a good wave. Another counter-intuitive factor is dehydration. It’s hard to think of an ocean as a desert, but that’s exactly what it is – an ocean of SALT water. With the blazing sun beating down and difficult access to drinkable water (AND the fact surfers are dripping wet which masks sweat), it’s way too easy for dehydration to go unnoticed.
Surfers know the importance of warm-ups and stretching, but are also famous for toughing-out their injuries. In this surfer’s case, a bad drop-in ended up in a strain of the quadratus lumborum (an important muscle in the lower back that helps twist the upper torso). The strain luckily wasn’t severe, but it was definitely tight. Sports massage therapy is generally not appropriate for application where a soft tissue injury is recent, Accordingly, he received a sports massage to help condition his non-injured muscles for future surfing, with a deep tissue/Swedish massage therapy modification to that quadratus lumborum to help reduce the swelling and restore range of motion.
One thing that amazes many of our clients is a massage therapist’s ability to ‘read’ the muscles of the body and find exactly where the strain is without much guidance from the client. Often times the massage therapist can see what areas of the body need careful attention merely by observing the way a client is standing, sitting, or lying. It’s also important to note that the therapist will only apply therapies that are comfortable for the client and appropriate for the condition.