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I was really excited to kayak last week. My dad took a week off of work and was in Colorado to kayak. A few other Wisconsin friends were on vacation as well. Salida was at 1,400 cfs and slowing dropping. Perfect.

A group of us paddled hard on Sunday morning and then went back in for a night session. I was feeling great until mid way through a back loop to mcnasty combo. I was leaning back hard and pushing my feet down to finish off the trick and my low back locked up. Since then I have been to the chiropractor 3 times, the massage therapist twice, and spent 10 days of my short boating season on the couch, in bed, or laying on the floor.

The isn’t the first time that I have hurt my low back. Although the situation was different each time, I have now had three low back injuries in the past three years. Two of them were kayaking related (one overuse and this one acute) and one stemmed from a ultimate frisbee hip injury.

After the second injury I concluded that I, as a kayaker, have developed a muscle imbalance in my core. Kayaking activates muscles in the front of the body such as hip flexors, abs, and external obliques. To get ready for kayaking season, I train these muscle groups by doing core flexion exercises (variations or sit ups) in springtime.

The issue is that kayaking doesn’t use (and therefore doesn’t strengthen) the opposite muscle groups in the back of our bodies. I also don’t train these opposing (antagonist) muscles enough.

This winter and spring, I thought I was correcting this muscular imbalance. For the first time in my life, I trained my legs, hips, and back by spending months doing squats, Russian dead lifts (RDLs), and lunges. My hips and low back were feeling better than I can ever remember and I was slowing increasing my weight. #gains

Unfortunately, I stopped all of this antagonist training or “rehab” or “prehab” in March because I was feeling better and I had to focus my efforts on getting ready for kayaking season. I completed the first phase of the exercise video series, P90X2 (total body), but then totally neglected my legs, hip, and low back because I only did the upper body workouts of phase two.

These extensors slowly detrained while my flexors slowly got stronger through April, May, and June which led to this most recent injury.

Today I was feeling well enough to start my rehab lifting program. I’m starting with low weight and focusing on range of motion and quality of movement. If all feels well, I will add 5 pounds to squats and RDLs each workout until failure. Then I will stay at that weight until success or back off 5 pounds if I fail 3 workouts in a row.

My rehab program is two workouts a week of 5 x 5 squats, 3 x 8 RDLs, 3 x 8 lunges. And of course kayaking as soon as possible as much as possible.

Lessons learned:
1. A training program needs to be balanced.
2. When I am kayaking, I need to be doing prehab exercises for the antagonist muscles.
3. When a training program (or anything) is working, don’t stop!

See you on the water, soon!