Yahoo Surfboards - Paddle Fit Challenge 1-29th July 2017

Friday, June 09, 2017

Laboratory and Field Based Assessment of Maximal Aerobic Power of Elite Stand-Up Paddleboard Athletes

Friday, June 09, 2017

Ben Schram, Wayne Hing, and Mike Climstein

Purpose: Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a rapidly growing sport and recreational activity for which only anecdotal evidence exists on its proposed health, fitness, and injury-rehabilitation benefits.

Participants: 10 internationally and nationally ranked elite SUP athletes. 

Methods: Participants were assessed for their maximal aerobic power on an ergometer in a laboratory and compared with other water-based athletes. Field-based assessments were subsequently performed using a portable gas-analysis system, and a correlation between the 2 measures was performed.

Results: Maximal aerobic power (relative) was significantly higher (P = .037) when measured in the field with a portable gas-analysis system (45.48 ± 6.96 mL · kg–1 · min–1) than with laboratory-based metabolic-cart measurements (43.20 ± 6.67 mL · kg–1 · min–1). There was a strong, positive correlation (r =.907) between laboratory and field maximal aerobic power results. Significantly higher (P = .000) measures of SUP paddling  speed were found in the field than with the laboratory ergometer (+42.39%). There were no significant differences in maximal  heart rate between the laboratory and field settings (P = .576). 

Conclusion: The results demonstrate the maximal aerobic power representative of internationally and nationally ranked SUP athletes and show that SUP athletes can be assessed for maximal  aerobic power in the laboratory with high correlation to field-based measures. The field-based portable gas-analysis unit has a tendency to consistently measure higher oxygen consumption. Elite SUP athletes display aerobic power outputs similar to those of other upper-limb-dominant elite water-based athletes (surfing, dragon-boat racing, and canoeing). 

Keywords: profiling, water, sports, aquatic, paddle boarding, SUP

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a new sport and recreational activity, which is increasing in popularity around the world due to its proposed health and fitness benefits and enjoyment.1 SUP is a hybrid of surfing and paddling in which participants can either distance paddle and/or surf waves.2 Many Web sites anecdotally advocate SUP to increase strength, fitness, core stability, and balance and decrease back pain. However, our recent review of the literature using the search terms SUP, stand up paddle boarding, and stand up paddle of CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, EMBASE, and MEDLINE found no scientific evidence to substantiate these proposed benefits. An ideal physiological test accurately and reliably assesses the specific energy systems of the musculature involved in a particular sport.3 To adhere to the principle of specificity, in addition to laboratory testing, field testing for aerobic power on a stand-up paddle board is highly desirable. This allows comparison between testing in a laboratory under tightly controlled conditions and actual SUP performance on water.

Recent advances in technology have allowed for more compact, light-weight, and ambulatory pulmonary gas analysis (Cosmed K4b2, Rome, Italy). The development of such systems has allowed field testing to gain a greater understanding of the metabolic demands during various modes and intensities of exercise in the environment in which they are normally performed.4 An indication of the aerobic capacity of elite SUP athletes provides a guideline for an individual wanting to succeed in competitive SUP. The measurement of aerobic fitness of internationally and nationally ranked SUP athletes has yet to be quantified, leaving a gap in the scientific literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess internationally and nationally ranked SUP athletes in the laboratory under tightly controlled conditions and then compare the result with a field-based assessment with a portable gas-analysis system.

Testimonial from Down South Physiotherapy

Friday, June 09, 2017

For the past 4 weeks Peter Hudson from Aqua Pro Fitness has provided us with a swim fast ergo machine. It has been utilized immediately in our physiotherapy practice for patients attending rehabilitation sessions in Clinical Pilates, Swimming Prehab and Physio Circuits. It’s also been a specific tool for shoulder testing and surfers in terms of paddling.

Interestingly, we all ready had an old “swim trainer” in our rehab gym, used as an adjunct to our Pilates reformers and other rehab equipment. The idea was primarily for surfers to use it for paddling strength. It was further used by a group of young swimmers during their Prehab Pilates. Plus any patients coming back from shoulder injuries. The problem was it’s very one dimensional, could only be used with both arms working bilaterally in one direction and not suitable for a number of patients.

Peter has provided an advanced machine that fits in with exactly what we had in mind. The Swim Fast ergo is way more functional from a swimming and surfing paddling based action. It has given us more focus on the specific action of paddling or swimming. It is directly involved with the assessment, technique, fitness and testing for either swimmers and surfers (paddling wise).

Being a surfer myself, and as a physiotherapist that treats a large population of surfers, it is no surprise I have invested in a Swim Fast Pro machine. Down South Physio & Sports Rehab is based in Dunsborough Western Australia, which is located in the middle of a major surfing region for the whole of Australia. Our focus has been to support the local community plus work with athletes including elite and recreational surfers.

In addition to the surfing population we are linked to Busselton Swimming Club. A Prehab Pilates session is conducted weekly for junior swimmers, five of which are currently competing at nationals. There are also numerous patients at the practice that are rehabilitating from shoulder surgery or have shoulder instability/pain. A number of these patients have been tested and assessed on the Swim Fast Pro machine.

From the physiotherapy perspective the machine is a relevant tool to what we are trying achieve. Physio is largely focused on 3 areas;

1. Diagnosis / Assessment
2. Manual therapy (hands on treatment)
3. Active rehabilitation (exercise therapy)

* Working with Peter we’ve realized the machine is suitable for our practice to help train surfers (paddling fitness), swimmers and patients with shoulder injuries. Furthermore patients with spinal or lower limb injuries can potentially maintain shoulder conditioning or paddling fitness.

Initial thoughts for practical use are;
1. Paddling fitness for the surfing population
2. Technique and shoulder assessment
3. Biomechanics of the shoulder or scapula stabilization
4. Observation of spinal posturing Cervico-thoracic and Lumbo-pelvic
5. Fitness Testing (surfers and swimmers)
6. Swimming Technique and scapula-shoulder-spinal assessment
7. Exercise rehab or strength and conditioning (post-operative, shoulder
pain or other long term injuries).

Physiotherapists are well positioned to use this machine for shoulder assessment and rehabilitation. It can further be utilized to monitor lumbar spine extension positions, which plagues surfers. There is new ground that can be developed for the surfing population from a paddling, rehab, assessment and fitness perspective. Our practice is positioned to access the surfing population
and all ready putting the machine to use with current patients. I’m excited at the prospective of how well we can integrate it into our local surfing and swimming community, as well as general patients.

Trevor Lawrence-Brown
Manipulative Physiotherapist APAM
Master of Clinical Physiotherapy Sports Rehabilitation - Curtin University Anatomy Tutor and Clinical Supervisor
Principal Physiotherapist: Down South Physio & Sports Rehab, Dunsborough WA


Perth, Western Australia
+61 407 386 737
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