Foiling with an Injury

I hurt my back about 10 months ago, right as I was beginning to make measurable progress prone foiling. I still have the foil bug, but popping up seems to be the 1 thing that really hurts my back so right now prone foiling seems to be out. Does anyone have any ideas what the most accessible way to continue to foil might be?

eFoiling, too pricey. Downwinding, looks impossible. What am I missing? Any ideas (and equipment reco’s to get started) would be so helpful. Thank you.

Try using a SUP perhaps?

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How bad of back pain?

I have annoying but persistent back problems (think occasional ibuprofen) Foundation Training on YouTube has been helpful. If you’re worse than me I’m not sure how it’d go.


Get a DW foil board and use it in the surf.

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If the popup is the trigger I’d modify the popup. Consult a physical therapist who’s also a surfer. There are popup types that involve sitting on one knee first which my buddy used to do proning.

If you have a spot with some rocks you could do rock starting then connect multiple waves

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Wing ding or tow foiling might work for you

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100% kite foil! By far easiest physically. Winging is much more physical. Biggest trade off is the ability to drift down the line with the wing.

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Will check that out for sure. Kawika Drummond uses it and I keep hearing about it.

Never thought if that. Great idea.

What did you do to your back?
10 months seems like a good recovery period.

Herniated disc in the low back. Putting my child in their car seat. Super cool way to hurt yourself. Haha!

Gotcha, do you know the segmental level, as well as the severity of the herniation.
What course of treatments has been done so far.
( If you don’t want to share all the details… It’s no problem, just curious)

Just a bulge. Can’t recall the segment. I’ve done copious PT over the last nine months and had a steroid injection into facet joints (which did nothing). Found sciatica pain to be relieved recently by hip openers like pigeon pose

I had a massive protrusion L5 S1. Time cures all wounds. It was brutal for a year or so but that was 7 years back now and I’m fine now. No real tipping point, just slow slow, progressive progress. First, it was a month between flareups and three or four months and six months then a year or two between flareups and now I can’t remember the last one.


Go to the gym and do squats and deadlifts to strengthen your back. Once you have a stronger back, get back on your prone board.

I followed the “Starting Strength” weight training program to fix my back.

Feel for you man. My back has been fuct for years even with PT, foundation, decompression, yoga. Nothing has worked. Have been able to make it better but not fix it. My legs will just disappear and all I can do is fight against a face plant.
I highly suggest sup foiling. Starting already in position and not having to arch the back. You can Start in the waves and then you never know you may end up getting the down wind bug. With a DW board you could even do knee starts? Not sure how that would be for your back.
Again with a DW board you can use a small ding to get on foil then flag it and still wave ride.
I really hope your able to find a way for get out. Keep us updated with what you figure out!!!

Thanks for all the responses. Really helps to hear your perspectives and ideas. Amundsen has a good sale going on their SUP foil boards so might bite the bullet and buy the big one and use it for that and winging down the road

Winging actually helped my back recover. I had anterior pelvic tilt, weak stiff glutes and back spasm. Might not be that great at first, but if your starting on a big sup should be easier on the body. Take breaks often to stretch out though, it’s too easy to go for hours without stopping and then hobble into shore!

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Hi Greg,
Sorry for the delay in reply. I had been inquiring on your back pain, as to why it was stopping you from foiling. I so pumped on foiling, it would be a downer not to have it as an outlet. I have been a chiropractor for 16 years, so found it interesting to see a thread on foiling and injury.
I have to preface my chat with you, as this is what I have seen in my own patient population. You’re not my patient, so I can’t offer you medical advice.
Disc bulges are fairly common findings. I have no shortage of patients , especially as they are over the age of 40 with disc bulges identified on MRI. A bulge is a low level disc injury. I have had a handful of the patients that the bulge was just at the right spot to cause some cord effacement, but not severe cord ( spinal cord/ nerve) encroachment. This certainly does not take into account other mitigating factors that might be associated with past medical history, or other co morbities, diagnosis’ that can add to additional irritation in a regional area.
So, having only small data points of information from you, I would be curious to find out more on your symptoms, so far I have heard you mention pop ups hurt your back ( are symptoms localized, or they travel into your lower extremity… symptoms are sharp, they pinch they are electric??? how do things present when pain occurs), as well as sciatic like symptoms that pigeon pose helps out with ( pigeon pose is phenomenal stretch for Glute max and Piriformis). Likewise, it would be nice to know a bit more about the presentation of sciatica like pain ( it is with you 24/7, worse at night, worse with lifting, worse with prolonged weight bearing activity… only occurs when you do pop ups).
I have had plenty of patients aggravate their back in the same manner as you described, of getting a child out of a car seat. The way your back is engineered, the low back does not like the combination of bending and twisting. Many times people will “jam” their back, no different than a person “jamming” their finger with a basketball. The spine is a large stack of joints. The big difference between jamming a knuckle and jamming the back, is that the back is a weight bearing structure, it has to take force and can not rest. Very often as this area does not get a break, it will start to recruit surrounding tissues to stabilize and augment force off the joints of the spine. When the junction of low back to tailbone is " jammed," the Glutes , and muscles parallel to the spine will start to cinch down to buttress the joints at the lumbo sacral junction. Depending how long the tissues are bracing for, they can become fatigued, which can start to lead to other symptoms.

I realize that you have already pursued multiple avenues of care. This is not a sales pitch to make you see a chiro, but more so to get an idea of what may be bothering you, and to get you back foiling.

Kind regards
Christian Grause ( foilcpg)


Christian pretty much described the disc bulge and jamming type scenario I had an around 8 years ago. I too had pain with the pop up, mainly when any stretching / forward bend hit my lower back. Childs Pose was very painful for example. Through chiro visits, physio, various stretches, I eventually found Foundation Training, which helped me over the hump and I was able to get back to pre injury form.

I think my injury came from a weakened posterior chain, mainly glutes and lower back, tight hamstrings, and poor biomechanics. Through FT and Chiro, I was able to fix the biomechanics and strengthen my weak links. It just takes time too. It can be rough, but you will get there!