Currently, it's 4:02 pm Thu Sep 13 2018 in beautiful Miami-Dade County, Florida

Your shoulders and how to keep them surfing till age 100


So hopefully you have read some of my prior spinal columns and you’ve got some good info on health and healing in the past. If you love how surfing enriches so many things in your life, imagine for a moment an injury (only for a moment because the mind is very powerful) that forces you out of the water for a few months or maybe even a year. It would be a real bummer to say the least. I’m writing this newsletter to hopefully prevent this ever happening to you.

So, over a year ago, I tore my right labrum (part of the shoulder joint which is basically the suction cup that holds your humerus in place). A few months before that two other of my surfing brothers had the same injury. I had a lot of pain and swelling and after two weeks finally sucked it up and had an MRI. My worst fears realized-SLAP (superior labrum anterior posterior) tear and torn biceps tendon. I saw an Orthopedist who of course recommended surgery immediately. Surgery should never be your 1st option!! After some research about this type of injury I found that it is very common injury for overhead athletes, i.e. baseball players, volleyball players, and swimmers (surfers). This means YOU! I know three surfers within the past year to have this injury. They have all had surgery. The rehab sucks and there are no guarantees. For over a year I’ve done everything in my power to prevent surgery mainly because even the top surgeons in the world cannot guarantee anything. My mind set from the beginning was, “I am not having surgery and I’m going to do what ever it takes to get it better. 18 months was the time I gave for it to heal. The original injury happened a year ago in El Salvador. The most important part I want you all to realize was that-
**THE INJURY DID NOT OCCUR FROM TRAUMA. IT WAS CAUSED BY OVER USE. Surfing 30 years can obviously take its toll on your shoulders.

A lot of you have been in the situation where the surf is large, the current is ripping, and you know your not surfing unless you can get out. For me it’s always been mind over matter. A few days after getting home from my trip the severe pain began. No sleep, no surfing for 3-4 months, until finally some easing of pain after three months. As soon as the pain started to ease I began my rehab. I’ve began rehabbing my shoulder myself a couple months after my MRI results. It’s been over a year now and I’m at about 80% and surfing again. Some days totally pain free.

To prevent these types of injuries from happening to you I’m going to give you a brief anatomy lesson of the shoulder, teach you how to warm up the joint, and make sure the humeral head (the shoulder) is in the best position possible to prevent injury. Like spinal misalignments (subluxations) make your disc spaces more prone to disc herniation and nerve pressure the position of your shoulder in its is what is paramount to preventing rotator cuff tears and labral tears. If you’ve been surfing 1 year or 30 like me this knowledge can prevent you from being out of the water from 4-6 months and even preventing the possible need for surgery.

The other day one of my patients asked me, “Doc, how long are you going to keep surfing?” I looked at her with a puppy dog dazed look…. Pretty much forever! I told her.

Anatomy- The shoulder joint is a ball and socket type joint. The largest bone in your upper body is called the humerus. It fits into a part of your scapula (shoulder blade) called the glenoid fossa, which is basically a mini plunger that holds the head of the humerus in place.

The main postural distortion of the shoulder joint that contributes to shoulder injuries is internal rotation of the head of the humerus.
Is this you? If you look in the mirror and see your shoulder rolled inward toward your chest or see a crease between your shoulder and your chest this may be you.

So….What we need to focus on is making sure your humerus never gets stuck internally rotated and if it is your focus will be to re-educate the joint to get it to its normal position.

How to reposition?

Doing stretching exercises with your chest while your arm is stretched out away from your body. This will stretch the pectoralis major and minor and therefore help take the tension off the joint. You can get as creative as you want while doing this stretch. Just remember to go easy and listen to your body. Yoga is a great way to go. Remember lifting weights and surfing shortens the muscles. Your goal is to create length in the muscle.

Strengthen your posterior deltoid muscle by doing reverse flys face down on a bench (go light) or use a peck deck in your gym by sitting on it backwards. This exercise will strengthen the posterior deltoid and therefore help open the front of the joint.

What else did I do to avoid surgery?

I saw an orthopedist and had stem cells (my own) and PRP “platelet rich plasma injected into the joint. This gave the injury site a chance to repair itself by regenerating. Some consider this controversial. Do your own research. Remember. My mind set was “no surgery”.

I had the shoulder joint adjusted into its proper position every week, Yes, just like your spine all joints can be adjusted.

Make sure your nourishing your body with optimal nutrition.

Make sure you are caring for your neck the right way. Making sure its clear of nerve irritation. Your whole shoulder and arm get it nerve supply from your neck. See your Chiropractor.

The above instructions are the basics. With any condition, you have to know what you have going on inside before and rehab program is started.
If you have a chronic shoulder issue and its to the point where you need some help and a plan to care for it feel free to email or call my office at 305-932-3773.

“Life is always better when you surf”

Dr. Craig Kaler

Ocean Chiropractic


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