Currently, it's 9:18 pm Thu Sep 13 2018 in beautiful Miami-Dade County, Florida

What are the healthiest sports for your mind and body? You guessed it..


Several years ago when I first started paddle boarding there were almost no stand up paddlers in the water. Now, whether it’s the ocean, lakes or rivers, you’ll find a stand up paddler in a body of water in almost any part of the globe. With so many people getting involved in our sport, there will inevitably be a few common or reoccurring injuries that people are prone to develop. The purpose of this article to help you prevent some of the common injuries I see.

 “An ounce of prevention, is better than a pound of cure” and protecting yourself from injury in the first place keeps you in the water. You may have noticed that as you are paddling especially for prolonged periods you become tired. As this happens your posture becomes worse, you start leaning more forward on your board. As this happens your paddling stroke tends to change. This prolonged change in posture can result in various injuries that result in straining muscles and/or ligaments due to overuse. Most of the time, listening to your body and taking several precautionary steps before and after your going to hit the water can prevent these injuries.

As a chiropractor, I am always looking at and evaluating posture, alignment and biomechanical motion (the way our body moves). It makes sense, that one of the first steps to protect yourself is making sure your body is aligned and moving properly so it can protect itself.  Just like the alignment on your vehicle, you’re going to get the max tread life out of your tires if they are balanced and aligned. What would cause a joint to be dysfunctional? Usually it’s a combination of an earlier trauma at some point in your life combined with over use habits. Not just from paddling, but sitting at a computer all day and having your head down looking at your smart phone all day just names a few.

It only takes one bone or vertebra out of alignment (especially in your upper neck) to cause a postural shift in the whole body. That one misaligned vertebrae can cause your body to fatigue much faster, cause your posture to be off, your paddling power to be significantly decreased. These events, in turn, can and will lead to injury over time. The most common areas for these subluxated or misaligned joints to occur are in your neck, shoulders, knees, feet, and lower back.

As a chiropractor who deals with repetitive stress disorders daily I feel SUPing is a great workout, especially if you sit all day and are afflicted by chronic lower back pain. Besides it being one of the best picturesque workouts, providing you with quite meditative thought time, it is an amazing way to build core muscle strength if your technique is correct. Here area few habits that’ll keep you in the water paddling for years to come.

1. Make Sure Your Body is Properly Aligned As a chiropractor I recommend getting your body checked out several times per month. You take your car, you go to the dentist, and so make sure the foundation of your frame is aligned and moving properly. Also make sure to go to a chiropractor that knows how to evaluate and adjust more than just the spine. The shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles are equally important. When choosing a chiropractor, specifically ask if the Dr. does “extremity adjusting”? Making sure your spinal bones and other bones of the body are in the correct position and moving properly to prevent injury.

2. Keep Your Body Flexible: The joints of the body and discs of the spine stay healthy only through motion. After spinal maturity in your mid to late 20’s the only way the discs in your spine stay healthy is through motion. More flexibility equals a better human frame and healthier joints. Remember that motion is how the joints, discs and cartilage stay healthy. Yoga or yoga type movement is the best way to do this.

3. Warming Up and Cooling Down: Before we just go out and start paddling do some mobility yoga based exercise. Heating up the muscles and joints of the body will actually make them stronger and work better. It is also just as important to stretch out after (not so much before) your paddle. “Heat up before stretch after.” The reason for this is if you’re going to doing a long paddle or race you want your muscles and body tight and compact just like Olympic power lifters. This is going to give you the most stroke power.

4. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition plays a role in everything! The higher quality your fuel, the better your performance. Steer clear high foods or drinks with high sugar content. Endurance athletes actually do require the need to “carb up” before a big race or workout. Seek high quality carbohydrates like sprouted or germinated brown rice, sweet potatoes, sprouted grains, or yams. White pasta is not considered a high quality carbohydrate.

If you’ve never tried stand up paddle boarding, first get a lesson and rent a board. If it’s for you, go to a knowledgeable retailer to make sure you get the right equipment for your body type and also type of paddling you want to do. In South Florida, a few good resources are TKS Miami, F1RST Surf Shop, Island Water Sports, Surf World, BC Surf and Sport, and Blue World surf, skate, and paddle.

Hope all the info was helpful. Stay wet and keep moving.

Dr. Craig Kaler


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