August 24, 2014

No More Back Pain

by Pam
Pass the ibuprofen please!

Regardless of age or the boat sailed, alot sailors have back problems of some sort. Many a Laser sailor has had to take a break from or part ways with their Laser because of their back.

Doug has been sailing a Laser since 1977 (37 years) and he doesn't complain of back problems. He is an exception. He eats right, exercises, doesn't carry extra weight and always stretches before sailing.

I rarely eat right, genetics blessed me with a fast metabolism such that I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight (until age 50) and if exercise didn't come in the form of fun and games, I wanted no part of it. Starting in my 20s I had minor back problems that I ignored. In my 30s I had back problems that I medicated and in my 40s I had back surgery. In my 50s, I pay attention to anything and everything that might make a difference as I now know that all of my problems were 100% predictable and preventable.

This is worth paying attention to: 

If someone is currently experiencing back problems, give this 30 day challenge a try and let me know if it works:


  1. Also, downward facing dog has many benefits including toning your arms and legs, AND stretching the hamstrings, which can help with plantar fasciitis. I would not practice downward facing dog though unless I had taken previous yoga classes with a good instructor. Now I'm doing both chair (similar to above) and downward facing dog (similar to above but more difficult and rotated forward) every day.

    1. I've started back to my yoga. It used to be so easy to pick it back up this break was too long and my body seems to have forgotten a lot. Probably means I'm way overdue in getting back to it and really need it.

  2. Hmm. That's very interesting. I like the focus in the first video about bending at the hip rather than curving the spine. And I like that exercise on stretching the upper body while using the thumb and pinkie to measure the gap from bottom rib to hip bone. But the "founder" exercise in the second video seems very tame compare to some of the yoga I do.

    Interesting also that you mention that Doug stretches BEFORE sailing. The consensus in the running world these days seems to be that stretching before exercise does little good and may even be counter-productive.

    While rehabbing my latest back pain I have been trying to do my yoga routine in the morning AND before going to bed. I find the latter especially beneficial because otherwise I do tend to stiffen up overnight and wake up with more pain.

    I am seriously thinking of taking my yoga mat to Laser racing and doing my stretch routine before AND after sailing.

    1. I really like the reminder of hinging at the hip too. I need someone to tell me that like 100 times a day. My posture use to be so good but not lately. That one simple change does seem to make me breathe deeper.

      Yes it is interesting that the new theory is that it's better to stretch afterwards. Doug says he will stretch afterwards sometimes if he's feeling particularly stiff but that is pretty rare. Experts are always changing their opinions about what's best but for Doug after 37 years, the only time he's every injured himself was when he didn't stretch before.

      Thinking about it from my rehab after back surgery, that sort of makes sense. We did repetitive movements with the goal being to move the body when it's not under stress or in pain so that it built up muscle memory for the range of motion that was safe. The minute the body feels pain or stress it will shorten the range of motion to protect it from injury. Or so the theory went at the time. Since Laser sailing is a series of bendy twisty type movements, it would make sense to go through the motions without any load prior to loading it.

      As for the founder pose ... it's alot like the yoga chair pose but not as difficult. If it really works, then maybe that means we don't have to work so hard to get all the benefits.

      You should definitely bring your yoga mat to Laser racing. It will intimidate the competition. Plus, men are so competitive that they'll see you stretching and will probably copy you and try to outdo you and injure themselves in the process. A professional fitness coach once told me that men always push themselves too far, usually to injury, but women rarely push themselves hard enough.

    2. By the way Pam, I saw your post about the Bruce Kirby lawsuits on the Laser Forum. I looked at that document in your link and realized for the first time that (at least) one of the lawyers is a Laser sailor! Good to know that we have someone on our side helping to sort this mess out!

  3. I agree with Pam and Doug re stretching before and after, however I wish to add a word of caution. Not everyone comes from the same place and hence my stretching is very different from the preceding. It may be to do with leg length difference, sub 3hr marathons and being more grumpy than the rest. I suggest people seek help from an applicable professional to find what really works for them. See you in Hyeres.

  4. Everybody is different and every body is different.

  5. I followed the exercise but then I sat right back down. I was exhausted! Seriously though I will give it a try. If you see a weird lady at Worlds with her hands splayed on her torso and butt sticking out its me.

  6. I have bought Eric Goodman's book Foundation, which has a whole series of exercises to help conquer and prevent back pain. Will try it out for a few weeks and then review it in a blog post.

  7. These exercise are one of the most effective way for back pain problem. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work and a leading cause of disability worldwide. Most people have back pain at least once. Learn more on Back Pain Symptoms & Causes. Thanks for sharing. Keep exploring.


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