Windsurf boom: less diameter, less pain

A group of six experienced windsurfers participated in a study to analyze the muscular force used for different techniques for holding onto the wishbone boom.

The test held in 2007 consisted in recording the global electromyographic activity of several muscles on the forearm using surface electrodes, and a windsurfing simulator.

There were two different wind force conditions possible with the simulator: medium (15 kg) and strong (25 kg). Three different windsurf boom diameters were tested (28, 30 and 32 mm).

Four different hand positions on the wishbone were analyzed: leading hand and/or following hand in pronation and/or supination.

The position with the two hands in supination on a windsurf boom of 28 mm in diameter was the most economical in muscular terms, notably the flexions of the forearm.

Having in mind that 65% of the people have muscular pain while windsurfing and 70% after the activity, for the most part in the forearms, and that 60% of the athletes questioned use a wishbone boom 30 mm in diameter, windsurfers can now make their own decisions and changes.

"Confirming the economic position of both hands in supination on the wishbone, the study allows windsurfers to navigate without their activity being limited by muscular pain in their forearms", conclude researchers Philippe Campillo, Barbara Leszczynski, Cédric Marthe, and Jean Michel Hespel.

Although this study does not replace the variability of natural wind conditions affecting the sail or the effect of the waves on the balance strategies of the windsurfer, its conclusions are quite valid.

"The important activity of the flexor muscles in the fingers in windsurfing compared to other muscle group activity is thus clearly established. Our study confirms the results of previous studies by showing the flexor muscle activity in the fingers is stronger when the hand is in pronation".

"This would explain the pain felt by most windsurfers in their forearms. These pains are linked to an accumulation of lactic acid associated with weak localized oxygenation".

"To hold off the presence of these pains and fatigue, the surfer frequently changes hand positions (palm up or down). This intermittent change improves the quality of vascular circulation".

"Electromyographic analysis on a windsurfing simulator", the study by Philippe Campillo, Barbara Leszczynski, Cédric Marthe, and Jean Michel Hespel, can be fully read online.