A deckhand on a yacht crew faces long hours of constant cleaning, scrubbing, polishing and chamoising to remove every bit of dirt, every bead of condensation, and to polish to the highest possible shine. It can be gratifying work. It can also be painful work. Deckhands become experts at scrubbing and detailing, and these repetitive tasks are sometimes performed to exhausting levels; the job of varnishing, for example, could never be accomplished with one or two coats.
Ten to 12 coats can be the norm for a deckhand on a superyacht worth millions of dollars. The never-ending upkeep is, well, never ending.
At the end of the day, backs hurt, necks hurt, arms hurt and wrists hurt from the constant and repetitive motion. But this isn’t the only motion that should concern a member of a yacht crew.
Choppy seas and rough waters can constantly force the body to adapt to the movement of the surroundings.
This means that the spine, ligaments and muscles are always re-adjusting to the sway or pitch of the boat. This knack for ably adjusting, from calm seas to choppy waters, makes the deckhand worthy of his/her place as a crew member, but it also becomes a major problem if they already have a misalignment from previous normal wear and tear.
Liken the situation to a wheel alignment. If you rotate tires as recommended, the wheels and axle last longer. If you continue to drive in a car with poor alignment, it pulls to whichever direction it wants to go in, and that causes faster wear and tear, leading to more expensive issues to fix.
Working on the water with misalignments will cause more pain and problems. What can you do?
Whenever you have the time, stretch those muscles and ligaments. This slideshow from the Mayo Clinic can help with exercise positions: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265. Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in the back, legs, buttock, and around the spine.
The spinal column and its contiguous muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all designed to move, and limitations in this motion can make back pain worse.
Keep in mind when stretching:
- Wear comfortable clothes that won’t bind
- Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions
- Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles
- Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
- Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times
If stretching or resting is not enough to end pain – in particular back pain – it’s time to visit a chiropractor. Acute or chronic back pain, the result of a sudden injury, can last for a long time. Tackling the problem, whether acute or chronic, takes expert knowledge of the body’s musculoskeletal structure. A chiropractor will manipulate this structure, particularly the spine, to enable the body to heal itself without surgery or medication.
To help restore flexibility and freedom of movement, a chiropractor will perform manual adjustments, including manipulation of joints, using a controlled, sudden force to improve range and quality of motion. Sometimes a chiropractor will provide nutritional counseling and exercise/rehabilitation for the patient to reach optimum health.
Seeking spinal manipulation and chiropractic care is the best way for members of boat crews to acquire safe and effective treatment for acute or chronic pain. A chiropractor is a specially trained health professional who believes that an individual’s wellbeing and health begins with correct alignment of the back.
Shifting seas and turbulent oceans should not limit your stride, nor set you back from performing at your best level. The work of a boat crew member is strenuous – equally important is quality of life. Seek relief when pain strikes, for a speedy return to work … and play.
Dr. Barak Meraz is a chiropractor based in Ft. Lauderdale. Reach him at email@example.com.