Ouch...Back Pain! - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-22-2008   #1
 
Coon's Avatar
 
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2003
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Ouch...Back Pain!

Hi Folks

I need a new seat for my 13 foot SOTAR Oarboat, as mine is killing my back.
Recently I have been going to physical therapy for lotsa pain in my thorax spine and I need a new setup.
Any advice on great seats that offer comfort and support and encourage good posture?

Currently I have the Bighorn NRS frame equipped with the NRS standard raft seat.
I'm looking at their High BAck drain hole seat, but I am completely open to your opinions.

Whatcha thinK?

~Julie

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Old 06-22-2008   #2
 
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SE, Wyoming
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Highs & Lows

Hey Julie—

Sorry you're hurting. Thoracic is mid-high back? I used to have miserable low back trouble (lumbar 4-5). The only boat I could stand to sit in for more than an hour was a Jack's Pack Cat with an inflatable backrest— very adjustable and dynamic seating position. My first long trip in it was Deso, and my back felt better as the trip went on. By the end I was standing up straight— no pain.

With exercise and improved work habits, my back trouble hasn't flared up in years. But I work at home in a kneeling chair and use a back roll for driving. Also made one out of ensolite and duct tape, rolled around a webbing strap, to use on rowing seats.

You might also look at the position of your oarstands with respect to your seat— can you hold your oars at the surface with your shoulders relaxed and straight? Does rowing aggravate a constant pain, or do you feel okay before rowing and hurt after?

Chip
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Old 06-22-2008   #3
 
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SE, Wyoming
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Back roll pic

Here's my river back roll, on a cheapo plastic fishing seat that I like. Low-tech, but it works. (I straighten it out before sitting down.)


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Old 06-23-2008   #4
 
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at my house, Montana
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I have some chronic low back issues also, and with PT and lots of exercise it does well. anymore it seems like my most common activity is "rehab"! Getting old is a pain! My problem is helped by getting my lower back flat, if that puts it in perspective for you.

Anyways, I use the highback seat, it is older without the drainhole, but I like how well it helps me sit up straight.

Laura
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Old 06-23-2008   #5
 
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
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strengthen your core...

Hi,

Having suffered lower back pain since about '93 , I can't encourage this enough...

I don't know what your exercise/fitness level is, but being a boater I assume you're relatively fit, but if you're anything like me, you hate going into the gym...BUT, that is the one thing that I've found that helps my lower back, more than any seat mod ever could

I only get my lazy butt into the gym a couple times a month--that seems to be sufficient--no body-builder/football player mentality here

I do just a quick circuit routine 2x--then I do a somewhat insane ab/core workout consisting of ~200-300 crunches (not just all "standard" crunches, but many different types--there are many, many varieties...and LOTS of obliques)

Then I do the lower-back-muscle-extension-exercise thing in 3 positions--standing, 45 degree, and horizontal--20-30 reps each

then twists with a broomstick--upright and bent over (no bent over broomstick jokes please...), bent over twists holding a medicine ball, and upright twists just swinging my arms--20-30 reps ea.

I also do this one kinda silly exercise--but this one seems to help the best--where I lay flat on my back, arms at my sides, knees bent, and lift my torso straight up as high as I can, and hold it high, so I can rally feel my lower back muscles flexing--I do about ~20-30 of those..this does however look completely retarded in a busy gym, as you are essentially "thrusting" 20-30 times , but it really works so I deal with the embarassment in exchange for a stronger healthier back

I know this sounds like a lot, but it really works well for me, and it actually only takes about 20 min. once you have a routine down--and I have zero back pain issues if I do this a couple times a month. --incidentally, if it's been a while since I worked out, or if I'm just starting up again after a long period of not being in the gym, I'll do about 1/2 to 1/3 as many reps, so you don't have to start out so crazy--but after 2-3 workouts, you'll feel like you want to kick it up a notch

feel better!
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Old 06-23-2008   #6
 
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Boise, Idaho
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Sounds like I'm not alone....

Thanks for all the input.

I have been doing back exercises and trying to strengthen my back, but maybe I just need to be remind myself that it takes time to heal.
I'm worried that this is going to be a chronic problem. And yet rowing is my passion! This is the second time I've seriously injured myself from rowing.
I kinda wish more than anything I could video tape myself to see if my form is in fact the root of my problem.

The PT says I need to learn to isolate muscles so I can make sure to pull from the right set of muscles,
rather than compensate with other back muscles where I end up hurting myself. But how in the world do I isolate muscles when going through a rapid?

Sounds abstract to me.

Chip:::

I like your advice about sitting in my boat and checking oar position.
I will look at that ASAP. Do you have any other tips for proper back support? Maybe we can chat more about this...?

I really hope I can figure out ways to support my back and use the right muscles when rowing. The thought of giving up rowing is devastating!

~Julie
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Old 06-23-2008   #7
 
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I've done a lot of PT for my back too. I suppose you could call what I've done learning to isolate muscles, it turns out I was not really using some muscles at all, and overtaxing others. so my exercises were geared towards learning to fire those unused muscles, and properly flexing all muscles while being active. While preparing for an extended trip, I did a lot of workouts of a rowing machine. I found that was great practice for using my core better. Once I quit thinking about it so much, I was pleased to find that I was starting to do it automatically. It sure takes time though, to unlearn and re-learn muscle usage.

So, I'd say you don't isolate the muscles in a rapid, you do your PT exercises and get really strong so that you are already using those muscles correctly in a rapid, and most importantly the rest of the time you are not in the rapid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coon View Post

The PT says I need to learn to isolate muscles so I can make sure to pull from the right set of muscles,
rather than compensate with other back muscles where I end up hurting myself. But how in the world do I isolate muscles when going through a rapid?
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Old 06-23-2008   #8
 
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Boise, Idaho
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Just bought a new seat

I decided to purchase the NRS High Back seat and that's on it's way to me.
I hope this seat will offer more support and encourage better posture then my old tractor seat.

Laura, I agree with you that PT exercises are imperative. I just hope that's not the story of my life. In other words I'm hoping this isn't a chronic injury.
By the way, I lived in Missoula for 9 years...and I miss my old faithful Alberton Gorge. Say hello to her for me, would ya?.
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Old 06-23-2008   #9
 
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SE, Wyoming
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Back to back and belly to belly—

Actually, it's pretty important to keep your stomach muscles in shape, too. I exercise 5 mornings a week, a mix of yoga type stretches and floor work with leg and torso lifts. Got some good stuff from a book on Chinese back therapy: practical routines for easing pressure on discs, etc. I used to visit chiropractors or PTs regularly, but haven't needed to in several years.

Paddling seems less troublesome than rowing, which compresses the spine. Some friends have mashed discs trying to row heavy boats in big water. One the size of your SOTAR shouldn't be too severe, and the oars should be short enough that you wouldn't need counterweights, etc. But if you expend effort holding the oars in a neutral position (shafts at 90° to the tube, blades partly in the water) then you might need to change your seat/oarstand/oar geometry or get floating blades or something.

Don't know if any CO schools have rowing teams, but sometimes coaches can be a help with stuff like this. Different sort of rowing, but they deal with chronic stress injuries on a regular basis.

Take a look at the Jack's Pack Cat and Cutthroat (<jpwinc.com>) for a seating setup quite different than the usual rowing seats. With the inflatable backrest and movable footbar, it's not only comfortable but can be adjusted often. Also, you tend to flex your leg muscles continuously, so it gives you gentle exercise on the water. Might not work with a conventional raft frame, though.

Anyhow, hang in there. The pleasure is definitely worth a little pain.
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Old 06-24-2008   #10
 
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at my house, Montana
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As Chip says, a LOT of my PT exercises (which I've incorporated into my normal exercise regime) are stomach exercises, focusing on muscles I used to not really engage.

chronic injuries are a drag. I used to say I had to stay strong so I could ski (bad knee), now I have to stay strong just to do my usual activities (knee and now back). As long as I keep with it, I do well. If my back or knee start to hurt, I know I've been slacking. Listen to your body and keep working it.

The darn Gorge! I've been dying to get on it this year, it's still around 30K, a bit high for most people's taste, at least most people I boat with. I'm hoping it drops to 25 this weekend and I can talk some folks into going. The commercials usually won't run above 22K, so if it is hot and above that, we should have the place to ourselves!

Take care
Laura

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coon View Post
I decided to purchase the NRS High Back seat and that's on it's way to me.
I hope this seat will offer more support and encourage better posture then my old tractor seat.

Laura, I agree with you that PT exercises are imperative. I just hope that's not the story of my life. In other words I'm hoping this isn't a chronic injury.
By the way, I lived in Missoula for 9 years...and I miss my old faithful Alberton Gorge. Say hello to her for me, would ya?.
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