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  1. #1

    Returning from a back injury

    Alright guys, I'm looking for a little advice and moral support from you back injury survivors. The thread about someone coming back from a shoulder injury prompted me to post this. I've been out of the water for almost 8 months, yeah it has sucked majorly. I first hurt my back dropping in on a wave and had some subsequent reinjuries being stupid that finally forced me to get out of the water at the end of this past August and allow myself to heal. Never thought it'd be a 7 month+ recovery process. Had an MRI, "minor" bulging disc, which was a pretty good diagnosis, but despite everything I've done, been in varying levels of pain everyday since then. I have newly found empathy for people who have to live in chronic pain, talk about depressed. PT, 3 cortisone shots, months of rest, and now 2 1/2 months of hard work in the gym hasn't helped the pain very much, but I can say my core is stronger than it's ever been, and I'm starting to get myself back in decent shape. I just don't know when I should paddle out. I've waited all this time for my back to start feeling "normal" again, but at this point it seems like I could be waiting years for that to happen. I know sometimes in the rehab process you have to push through some pain, but I've also disregarded pain with this back injury and look where I ended up. I know no one has the answer, but I'm hoping some dudes on here can share their comeback stories or experiences with back pain and when they decided to paddle out, and how their bodies responded. Thanks guys, it's been hard to stay sane like this

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    MD - VA
    Yah that friggin blows big time.

    Had my share of back issues from years of catching pro ball & the pounding from lax & every other sport under the sun. And now surfing.......surfing is tough on the back & neck.

    I'd bail on the cortisone. Nasty stuff with medium-term harsh consequences. Same with prednisone; although you didn't mention that poison a lot of people get pumped with it. And you're to be commended for not letting the hack car mechanics start cutting on you.

    Don't know where you're located, and I realize that you've tried PT & a lot more, but will strongly recommend CORE PT in NWDC, If it's accessible for you. If not, well, like I said that's my 2 centavos.

    "What do you call the guy who graduates first in his medical school class?"

    "What do you call the guy who graduates last in his medical school class?"

    You get my drift.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    VA Beach
    GrantLee: I really don't know very much about this or have any helpful answers. Have you tried doing any kind of swimming in a pool yet? That might be a place to start. I mention swimming, not only because of its similarity to paddling, but President Kennedy, who injured his back in WWII would swim as a form of exercise that did not aggravate his back injury.
    I wish you the best. I know it's not easy. But you do see or hear about those who have overcome very serious injuries (wounded vets, Bethany Hamilton, and others) who are out there on the water, so hang in there.

  4. #4
    Yankee, I'm in VA Beach, by NWDC do you mean northwest DC? I used to live up in Stafford County but like I said, VB now. Definitely agree with you about not all doctors being equal, or anywhere close. Maybe somebody in the VB area can recommend a physical therapist who is top notch, not that the guy I was seeing was bad, I just think his knowledge of back injuries was only average. Dos, yep I've been swimming for the past month or month and a half. Try to twice a week. I can't say the pain is any worse since I've been steadily increasing my work outs, but it's not really any better. Idk man

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Stayin' Classy in San Diego
    I messed up my back at the beginning of last June and it hasn't started to truly feel better until very recently. Takes a lot of time. Got run over by some dude on a skateboarder who was bombing down the hill at Trestles:

    My own damn fault really. What has really helped me has been yoga. They offer it at the place I work twice a week and I didn't miss many classes. It really made a difference, just an hour a day and I'd feel better for 24-48 hours later. One other thing, I refused to quit surfing or being active and I paid for it. I remember the day after my daughter's birthday, lying on my living room floor not able to stand. I put a retaining wall in on a hill on my house back in February, same deal. Or there was a swell sometime back in the winter and I just ate it and it got ragdolled and I was done, had to paddle in. Paid for that for a week. Same thing every time I rode a groveler or any really foiled out board that I had to over-arch my torso to paddle, I'd feel that for days. And it does get really depressing, you start to think that you're never going to feel right or live without pain again. I would wake up in the morning for the last year almost and I wouldn't be able to stand up straight. It would take a good 10-20 minutes of just stretching before I could square my shoulders or walk not hunched over. And then just about the end February it started to get a little better. Just keep the faith man and keep up with the exercise, it will get better. I finally turned some corner and these days I' m doing pretty good. Except for the whole knee thing. No getting around that, can't pop up. Gonna try to paddle around this weekend with a brace for a bit, belly ride a few, see how it goes. Second time around coming back from that and I haven't even gone under the knife yet. Good times. Just remember, you'll get back in the water. It isn't going anywhere.

    Herb helps with the pain too. I like a good indica, try some OG Jack Herrer.
    Last edited by zaGaffer; Apr 9, 2014 at 04:29 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by zaGaffer View Post
    I would wake up in the morning for the last year almost and I wouldn't be able to stand up straight. It would take a good 10-20 minutes of just stretching before I could square my shoulders or walk not hunched over.
    I'd seriously consider a new mattress. I've had a few good ones and they do wonders and you really feel the bad ones.

  7. #7
    I find Pilates helps me ...tried yoga but with a herniated and bulging discs too much bending in a forward or downward U shape was not good for my back at all so yoga did not work for me. (also put strain on the burser area below my knees). I swear by Pilates, its all about the core, helps my back immensely.
    All personal preference, trial and error....

  8. #8
    Go here,
    Buy this,

    I put it on my wifes arthritic hands and she can use the for the rest of the day. I put in on my neck and back. it burns but only where it hurts. my wife always tells me her hands are on fire afterwards. my hand don't.

    My back used to go out a couple times a year until I moved my wallet to my front pocket. Takes time getting used to. for several years I'd grab my pocket thinking my wallet was gone.

    reminds me of a song

  9. #9
    Bulging disk - been there, done that...did the therapy, shots, spinal injections, etc...things helped, but nothing "fixed" the problem. Just pushed through the pain and kept doing what I was doing. Eventually the disk exploded and I was done, couldn't move. Had to go under the knife. After that and the subsequent rehab I was finally fixed. In retrospect I wish I had done it 5 years earlier. Maybe 10.

    I would heed Yankee's advice though. Get a real, highly recommended sports therapist to work with. Get references and check them. However, if you aren't getting fixed you may want to consider surgery. If the disc is still healthy (i.e. not in danger of collapse) then you could consider just getting the bulge shaved off. They can do it outpatient and have you back on your feet in a few days.

    I had to have the disk removed and a lumbar fusion of my vertebrae. No issues since then other than the normal, occasional soreness from over exertion.

    Its a tough call to go under the knife, and I've been cut on enough in my life, but in retrospect I should have realized after years of trying everything else it wasn't working and just got it done.

    If you do decide to go that route and want the name of my surgeon in Raleigh let me know. In talking to the staff at the hospital everyone raved about him and he was the go to guy for when they or people in their family had issues. I am 100% satisfied with his work and good to go now.

    One last bit of advice...once you are "fixed" be patient the first time you get back in the water. I was so amped to get into some waves I rushed out in bad conditions, took a wave too late, and took one of the nastiest falls I ever had. Got faceplanted hard into a sandbar (good thing it was a sandbar) and scorpioned, thought for sure I'd broken the fusion apart.

    It's a horrible thing to go through what your going through, feel free to hit me up for any info or moral support you want, either here or via PM.

    Good luck on your therapy, I hope it works and you don't have to get cut.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Long Island
    Iv never had a real serious back injury but back in high school I hurt my back in a lacrosse game, I want to say I pinched my syatica(?) nerve but I am doubting myself on that. Point is I was in tears, I couldn't move. My lower back was in so much pain. I needed help getting out of bed because I couldn't move without serious pain. I was out for the rest of the season, I went to PT, the pain got better but still to this day its an issue. This was in 05 or 06, some day's are worse then others, I will get very stiff accompanied by a dull pain on the bad days. On the good days I feel fine.

    Recently iv had much fewer bad back days, and I like to think its the yoga. I started in the middle of the summer some time. Now I feel almost no pain and am rarely stiff. Ill do a more intense yoga routine on days when I don't surf, and when I do surf I will do a yoga routine that is more like stretches then a workout. Im no doctor so im not saying you should do yoga, but its something to look into. I believe DDP, the wrestler, injured his back pretty damn bad and now has his own yoga dvd set. Im sure with a quick google search you can find his website and his back injury comeback story and how yoga was what got him back, if your interested.

    Also while on topic of coming back from injury I saw a guy out in the water today who had a fake leg. He was on a SUP but it was still really cool to see him out there despite missing a leg. And it was like chest/head high.