Lake Martin, wakeboarding and overcoming the injuries.
Wakeboarding is a demanding sport. It requires a significant amount of skill, athleticism and balance. The difficulty of this sport can also cause it to be a dangerous one. There are many wakeboarders injured throughout the year. Due to this, I believe that injury prevention is key. The most common injuries associated with wakeboarding , other than head injuries, include ACL tears, shoulder dislocations and ankle sprains.
The joints of the upper and lower extremities are supported by two different types of stablizers: dynamic and static. The term dynamic describes a structure that can change length or shape. These would include the muscles surrounding the joints. Static refers to a structure that remains in a fixed position or one that cannot change. These structures include the ligaments within or around each joint that prevent abnormal movement s or injuries. In order to prevent injury to the static stablizers it is important to strengthen the dynamic stabilizers about that joint.
With regards to the knee, the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is the major static restraint to anterior translation of the tibia in regards to the femur as well as rotational stability. One of the ways to decrease the risk of injury to this ligament is to strengthen the dynamic stabilizers surrounding the knee. The muscle group most concentrated on is the quadriceps group. To strengthen your quadriceps you can incorporate exercises such as straight leg raises, leg extensions, squats and leg press into your workout regimen. Other muscle groups crossing the knee joint and contributing to stability include the hamstrings and the gastrocnemius/soleus complex. The strength of these can be improved by performing leg curls and calf raises, respectively. Another technique that can help prevent injury to the ACL is neuromuscular training. This is the practice of training your body to control how your muscles react during an activity. This would include practices such as teaching wakeboarders how to land jumps with their knees bent rather than straight given that the ACL has a significantly higher amount of stress applied to it with the knee in extension rather than flexion.
The dynamic stabilizers of the shoulder include the periscapular muscles and the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening of these muscles can help in prevention of a shoulder dislocation. Posture training is important in strengthening the muscles surrounding the scapula, or shoulder blade. This helps to position the scapula appropriately which in turn improves the position and motion of the shoulder. The strength and endurance of the rotator cuff muscles can be improved by including exercises such as the Thrower’s Ten program in your daily routine. This program includes external and internal rotation exercises as well as abduction, rowing, presses and pushups.
And lastly, prevention of ankle sprains can also be improved by this process of dynamic stabilizer strengthening. The common “low” ankle sprain describes an injury to the lateral ligaments of the ankle including the ATFL (anterior talofibular ligament) and CFL (calcaneofibular ligament). The “high ankle sprain” describes an injury to the syndesmosis which maintains integrity between the two bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula. Stretching and strengthening of the peroneal muscles can improve stability of the ankle and thus help to decrease the risk of these sprains. The peroneal muscles and tendons run over the outer or lateral aspect of the ankle and allow the foot to turn outwards. Eversion exercises of the ankle improve strength and endurance of this muscle group.
Again, wakeboarding is an intense sport. Unfortunately, some of the injuries sustained during this activity are inevitable. But, incorporating these exercises into your daily workout routine will improve the strength and endurance of those major muscle groups which increase the dynamic stability of your joints. And this can ultimately decrease your risk of injury to these joints.