October 8, 2008


Please note that the comments in this blog come from many years of clinical experience and practice, combined with details and opinions taken from various sources, including open-source internet articles. Where relevant, links are provided.

Please also note that we cannot comment on individual cases without taking a proper history and conducting a full examination.

SO, HOW DANGEROUS IS IT to go windsurfing and kite surfing? Well, a quick search of the internet will throw up various reports of serious and even occasionally fatal events involving, in particular, kitesurfers.  However, these events are still rare and are no more frequent than other ‘dangerous or extreme sports’.

What sorts of injuries do we, as osteopaths and physiotherapists, see as a result of these now popular sports?

Here in Shoreham-by-Sea there is a particularly active group of surfers that range mainly from mid-teens to mid-fifty’s and who spend as much of their free time on the water as they can. Great fun with lots of adrenaline, wonderful exercise and what a way to get away from the mobile and other distractions!

However, where there is pleasure there is often pain and these sports are no exception. One of my best friends, who is almost messianic when it comes to windsurfing, tells me that he never has any injuries! Except, that is, for the bruised ribs caused by his harness as he came to a sudden stop recently, the neck strain and stiffness and foot and shin pain from doing too much for too long.

This is fairly typical from what I hear at the Adur Osteopathic Clinic and remember that those comments are from an experienced windsurfer!

Our Osteopathic and Physiotherapy Practitioners are frequently asked to help with treating injuries sustained while doing water sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

NOVICES & LEARNERS typically suffer forearm muscle problems from gripping too hard until they learn to relax as well as shin and foot strains for much the same reasons.

Back strains from rigging and up-hauling tend to happen more in the early stages, but no one should be complacent about them as potential risks.

  • As is often the case, prevention is the better path to tread.
  • Take up Pilates to gain core strength and make you fitter before problems start.
  • To ease backache while sailing, try tilting you pelvis back and forth in the quieter moments.
  • Many of these problems can be overcome simply by practice and good coaching in the early days.

What are the common injuries in these sports?

Where I, as a Registered Osteopath and my colleagues come in is when it goes beyond a ‘bit of a strain’ and becomes a proper injury.

Listed below are some of the most common types of injury and where they occur on the body.



Filed under: AB'S PERSONAL VIEWS — Andy Bellamy @ 12:33 pm


Irony is quite difficult to define, but there is a form called situational irony and I think I have just become a victim of it.

I am now spending my third day recovering from acute low back pain. As an osteopath of 20-odd years, (and a back pain sufferer of over 30 years), I am aware that while my patient patients are expressing their sympathy to my face, what they are really thinking is ‘physician heal thyself’. If only life were like that, eh!

At work, on a daily basis, I hear the comment,

“But I just bend over to…….and my back went”.

So, I tilt my head, put on my best professional, but slightly patronising, voice and say,

“Well, it’s never actually that simple. What have you really been doing? How about a couple of days ago, for example? It always takes a day or so for things to swell up enough to cause problems.”


7:45 AM As it happens, that’s exactly what happened to me! I was ‘just’ walking to work and, out of the blue, my left lower back was suddenly sharply painful.

7:50 AM By the time I actually got to work, the pain was sufficient to make me bend forward at the waist, because if I didn’t, it made me catch my breath.

10:45 AM By coffee time, I was finding it difficult to feel my sympathy for my patients, let alone any empathy. Surely, my pain was much worse than theirs? I had started to tilt over to the right by then and maintaining a professional composure and osteopathically correct posture was starting to look comical.

All I wanted to do was get the weight off my feet. A vague but worrying ache had developed over the side of my left leg and into my groin. How am I going to work? What about my desperate patients? What about the credit crunch?

12:45 PM Time to cancel the afternoon list. Pass that task on to the staff and let them take the flack.

Now I can now hardly stand or put weight through my left leg.