Posts Tagged ‘Barefooting injuries’

Will Rhea, Dealing with an Injury

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I had my first true barefooting injury in July, while skiing at the WBC. I have always had to deal with bumps and bruises from barefooting, but never anything serious. This time, however, I had a bad fall on a jump that made me lose my breath and my ribs were in a lot of pain. I tried to keep skiing through the pain, but it just got worse.

I was so disappointed and did not want to stop skiing. I kept trying to ski, but my focus was on my ribs, and not my skiing. This was not how I had planned my training time! I had several days left at the WBC, and two upcoming tournaments. I took the next two days off to rest and recover.

The morning I tried to ski again, as soon as I crunched my abs forward on my toe up, I felt a pop and a jolt of pain, and I lost my breath again. I was in even more pain than the first time. This is when I knew that I could not ski anymore.

I was so crushed and disappointed to have to stop skiing. I missed out on competing in the Southern Regionals, as well as Nationals. I did enjoy watching my sister, Lizzie, compete though.

I went to the doctor as soon as I got home, and he said that I had damaged the cartilage on the front of my 8th and 9th ribs. The pop I felt was my cartilage. He said that I had probably bruised it on the first fall, and did more damage by trying to keep skiing through the pain. He told me that it would take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, and that I had to be inactive for at least a month (which was the worst part)!

It has now been 6 weeks, and I have been cleared by my doctor to ski again. I am not in pain anymore, and I am so ready to try to ski next weekend! I will never take my health, and the opportunity to ski for granted again!

Will Rhea

Jerry Kanawyer: I Found the Cure for Elbow Pain

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

I have been competing for 28 years now. Wow, I can still remember my first tournament, but that’s not the issue that I’m here to address. From the many years of skiing and especially for me, tricks like the flip have taken a toll on my elbows. I have had tendonitis in my elbows for about 8 years now. It gets so bad at times that I can’t lift my arm. It really makes it tough to train, and it cuts into my time on the water. I have tried numerous ways of trying to get them healed. I have tried Aleve for a long period of time. It does help a little, but it never completely heals them. I have tried weights, working the muscles around the joints. I have tried rubber band work outs and stretches. What finally worked for me was I made my own elbow braces. My elbows don’t hurt while or after I ski any more. I do have to wear them every time I ski, but it’s worth it, having the satisfaction that I don’t have to worry about them anymore.

Collin Barber: off the Water, and Back Again

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

20140507-060945.jpg

For the past year, I have had to restrict my skiing due to a knee injury that I got last spring. I ended up tearing a ligament in my knee doing surface turns. For the first half of the summer, I was unable to ski. It was extremely annoying and agonizing to wait to ski again. Eventually, I was cleared and continued to ski the rest of the remaining summer. The doctors had said my knee was fine but something still seemed off about it. It still hurt during some types of movement and ached every now and then. After summer was over, I got it checked out one more time just in case. The doctors came to the conclusion to scope my knee to just “clean stuff up”. After the quick operation, I would be all good for full physical ability in just a couple weeks.

So there I was in the hospital, waiting for the anesthesiologists, when the doctor finally told me, “Oh, by the way, there could be a possibility while we’re in there that your knee’s meniscus is torn too. And if it is, well we’re gonna fix it and you won’t be able to do anything for the next 5 months. But that’s a small possibility. So! Let’s go!”

And what do ya know, after I woke up from the operation, I got to find out that that small possibility had actually happened. What that meant was for the next month and a half I couldn’t walk or bend my leg. Then the next 3 and a half months I got to walk, but I still couldn’t run or do any physical activity.

So… besides this winter being completely immobilizing, I have finally rehabilitated completely. For the first time in two years, I finally get to compete again barefooting, and I am definitely looking forward to it. I have goals already set that I am determined to meet by the end of the summer.

Collin Barber

Ariana Koehler: Don’t Kick Rocks

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

I have been very fortunate to have never had any serious injuries, even after all the years of waterskiing and barefooting (knock on wood).  I have never broken a bone in my body and have kept myself pretty healthy.  There is only one major setback that I can remember and it kept me out of commission for a few weeks.  It was a silly injury and sometimes I wish I had a better story to tell, but what had happened was I kicked a rock in the water.  I was getting up on the dock and kicked a rock that had zebra muscles on it and it sliced the bottom of my foot right open.  Every barefooter cringes at the news of a foot injury, especially one to the bottom of the foot.  In this sport our feet are a tad important to say the least.  When I looked at my foot and saw the blood I was in tears, but it was not because of the pain.  What I was upset about was that Barefoot Nationals were just a few weeks away and I needed to train.

I was quickly brought to the hospital where they told me I needed stitches.  That was my first time ever being in a hospital as a patient and I hope it was my last.  The stitches certainly didn’t make my life easy, as I had to stay off my feet as much as possible.  For someone who is always active and used to being on her feet, this was not easy for me.  Fortunately, the stitches were taken out just in time for nationals, but the cut was still open.  For barefooters who have ever cut the bottom of their foot, they know that there is nothing that a little superglue and Newskin can’t fix!

I was very fortunate to be able to ski at nationals, even though I may not have gotten in as much training as I had wanted to.  This injury was quite the set back for me, but I am thankful because I know that it could always be worse.  Not being able to ski for just a few weeks, out of all the years I have been skiing, isn’t too bad in my eyes.  I thank God everyday for keeping His arms around me and being there for me not only every time I go out on the water, but everyday of my life.

Tommie Copper at the World Barefoot Center

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Keith St. Onge, Tom Kallish, Jeff Sussman and Josh Chapman

In April, the Tommie Copper company came out to the World Barefoot Center to film Karen Putz and Keith St. Onge on and off the water.

Tommie Copper is a company which makes copper-infused compression wear for pain relief and injuries.  The owner, Tom Kallish, experienced a water ski accident after slaloming over a submerged log.  He endured several operations on his back, hips and knees.  His doctor prescribed compression wear for his injuries, but Tom found the products bulky and uncomfortable.  He researched the healing properties of copper, developed a copper-infused yarn and patented the fabric and process.  One year ago, Karen discovered the Tommie Copper products after recovering from surgery.  For the full story of how this film project came about:

Karen Putz and the Tommie Copper Story

A video is in the works and the company released a web commercial:

Tom Kallish slaloming at the WBC

KSO being interviewed

Tom Kallish and Karen Putz

Strengthening Shoulder Muscles for Barefooting

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

What do Brian Heeney, Mike Holt, Joe Pressendo, Dave Miller, Teri Larson and yours truly have in common…besides being old farts (sorry Teri)?

Before you can answer, shall we pause for a commercial?

The mechanic says to his customer “You can pay me now or pay me later.”


We are talking about preventive maintenance and recurring shoulder stress in this post. The skiers above are world competitors who had shoulder surgery over the past few months–six skiers under the knife and relegated to long and arduous rehabilitation. This is not just an infliction of the old; aggravation and injury can occur at any age. Why then, you might ask, are the best skiers unaffected? For one; they are in the best shape and two; they ski in perfect position, turn correctly and maintain perfect position. Therefore preventive maintenance comes from both skiing correctly and strengthening. Many of us are negligent on both counts though personally, the former attribute has eluded me.

I was diagnosed with a full thickness tear over five years ago and managed to keep it at bay through constant stretching and strengthening of the rotator cuff muscles; rehab and preventive maintenance definitely work. In the end, I could not keep my arm pulled in– hence contacted the local surgeon. After a six-hour surgery and three months later, I can now lift a 2lb weight above my head and do one pushup. You too can experience this fun filled atrophy … or you can be a proactive. I recommend “prehab” over “rehab” and will interject my opinions on ski fitness.

Please look at the following to increase your understanding of how the shoulder works and see what comprises the rotator cuff. Note the complex muscle and tendon system that keep the shoulder in its “socket” or the humerus head within the labrum. The shoulder is designed to be inherently unstable to achieve remarkable ROM (range of motion). The Amazing Amy, my athletic therapist, likens it to a golf ball on a tee where the rotator cuff muscles allow it to move and stay balanced in the tee.

The goal here is to gain an appreciation of the shoulder’s fragile complexity and what it is you are trying to protect. Just watch a bit and take what you like out of it:

Rotator Cuff Tutorial

Anatomy of the Shoulder

How the Muscles are Attached to the Humerus

Can a Rotator Cuff Tear Heal By Itself?

When we ski, particularly whilst turning, there can be tremendous forces exerted on the shoulder(s), particularly when out of position. (Chest proud, look where you’ve been, trust the turning leg and keep the arm in… are WBC mantra that will prevent being pulled out of position…(and note to self: don’t hang onto falls) Also, a windmill fall, where the limbs are flailing during the cart-wheeling water entry can whip the shoulder past its normal limits. A skier with better ROM has a better chance of surviving this intact.

A tear to one or more tendons, the labrum and other structures can be the result of one hard fall or cumulative repetitive strain and inflammation. The ensuing discomfort from repetitive strain can likely be relieved by icing and taking an anti-inflammatory and/or just laying off for a while. An inflamed supraspinatus tendon can rub on bone so like little piranha teeth– it will gradually cut a bigger and bigger tear until the only remedy is surgery… and quite a relief at that.

So, let’s get to the point: We all stay in decent shape and workout regularly…right? We know this is a physically demanding sport requiring a minimum threshold of strength and superior muscle tone and flexibility. We therefore know we need to prepare ourselves physically to meet the demands. The fitter you are, the more resistant you will be to the inevitable falls, forces and strains. Since shoulder pain/injury is perhaps the most common malady, why wouldn’t we spend just a bit of time strengthening and toning those structures that keep the shoulder secure?

Unfortunately, I feel this has been a neglected area of thought/exercise. So, find some time to do rotator cuff exercises and/or combine them with other exercises to save time. Here is my opinion/recommendation to get the best bang for the buck for overall fitness:

• Don’t lift heavy weights – strive for lean. You want a high strength to weight ratio for this sport. Do all exercises perfectly and isolate – you can’t isolate and achieve perfection with too heavy a weight as you will employ the “wrong” muscles while the “required” muscles undergo atrophy. The result of this will produce incorrect firing patterns that exacerbate the situation and create a habit that is very difficult to retrain. (This is a whole other issue that is prominent in arthritic knees where atrophy can cause complete shutdown of certain muscles hence compensation and an ingrained non-synchronous firing pattern…another battle I am fighting.)

• Balance while exercising and try off balance exercising to get the proprioceptors firing
• Perform explosive exercise – plyometrics…leaping, lunging etc
• Take care of your frame – strengthen the core, commit to yoga or another regime for flexibility and calm. Take all stretching and rotator cuff exercises to the full ROM and hold for 30s. Many of the yoga poses increase ROM and strengthen the rotator cuff hence it is a very good form of exercise for barefoot water skiing.
• Do regular rotator cuff exercises and stretches with a cane or dowel, Theraband and very light dumbbells. Combine with leg exercises.
I have 18 exercises done in 3 sets that take around 40min performed 3x/day…keeping in mind that 3 tendons were re-attached and the labrum was fully lacerated. You would only require a few because prehab is a lot easier than rehab! I also do a lot of stretching and exercise of the shoulder while walking. At completion of rehab and embarking on prehab maintenance, it will probably take 5-10min a couple times/day or, stretch before and exercise after skiing. Or just do something for the shoulder whenever it crosses your mind – you don’t have to be in a gym at a set time and place to shoulder strengthen. The following exercises are pretty simple to do however it is imperative to stretch and exercise to absolute full ROM:

• Inner and outer rotation at varying angles – be creative here
• Flexion (forward), Extension (behind), 45degree plane and abduction (side) with thumbs up, thumbs down and palms down. I prefer exhaling going up and exhaling going down. At the top, strain for every last 2.54 cm upwards.
• Small, controlled arm circles or alphabets at all angles and writing the alpahabet on the wall rolling a tennis ball in front mid and high and to the side mid and high and behind.

There are lots of examples on youtube that illustrate the above. The following is one and only a couple exercises are done. I like the method except for the last exercise where it should be done a lot slower and to full ROM…probably requires a lighter weight. Do this while rolling your IT band and this can be one of your greatest hits!

The following video has some good stretches:


In order to do the squatted exercise I think you’d have to be Gumby!

All the above can be done anytime anywhere, with or without very light weights and/or using a $5 Theraband. I have never lifted more than 5lbs doing rotator cuff exercises and the band can be taken anywhere. One needs to constantly remind oneself to pull the shoulders back and down and hold them there while concentrating on being still/statuesque and using the back to derive and increase the movement to the full ROM. The rhomboids will become stronger and you will be using/strengthening the rotator cuffs properly since they attach at the scapula (back). In other words, do all the exercises with concrete posture and really isolate. Watch and learn from others who exercise incorrectly ie see someone doing arm circles or lifts by throwing their shoulder using the large muscles and momentum to get the arm around…do it yourself incorrectly then do it controlled by not moving the shoulder or traps – notice and feel the difference in your lats– see that your better way takes more effort and tires your back; realizing that your method is actually exercising the small rotator cuff muscles. Why not balance on one leg whilst doing this and rip off one legged squats for good measure?

Bring shoulder awareness and posture into your constant conscious thought. What I mean by constant is to always think when raising a hand, that this will be accomplished without hiking the shoulder; rather raising with your scapular muscles whilst feeling the firing in your lats and back – ie reach into a cupboard or up to a shelf keeping the shoulder down. When you reach maximum height, stretch for more and you will be using the rotator cuff muscles to achieve “accessory movement” of the humerus head to the limit of the cuff. It takes conscious effort but it will become habit. Constant would also mean doing the exercises while walking and/or exercising the legs in your gym.

Shoulder exercises when done properly have the bonus effect of forcing correct posture; better posture makes for better resistance to the pull. The goal while skiing would be to ski relaxed yet hold posture while positioning the shoulders as indicated above. This positioning will greatly relieve forces on the rotator cuff. When I get back in the late spring, I will be doing my absolute best to keep my shoulders secure and not allow being pulled out of position….and really; this is in fact exactly what is instilled at WBC. I don’t want to throw away all this hard work!

Do you love barefoot skiing? Want to do it for a long time? Want to ski your best and avoid the knife? Performing shoulder prehab will minimize chance for injury and make you a better and more durable skier.

Good luck. Hope to see you soon on the dock warming up those shoulders.

Duane Godfrey