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Blue Soler leads first international project to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of Stand Up Paddle (SUP)

  • Global Health
  • Stand Up Paddle (SUP) is a sport discipline derived from surfing that consists of getting on a board and paddling: Ku Hoe He’e Nalu, as they said in Hawaiian when the sport originated in the late 90s, now with a view to becoming an Olympic sport.

    SUP is one of the most complete sports in existence, as it works without impact on muscle building, endurance, balance and posture. In addition, the practice takes place in a natural environment, with the emotional well-being provided by the sea.

    Taking these factors into account, as well as many others, such as the feeling of team sport generated by the surfing community, Blue Soler has started the first pilot test in collaboration with the Unidad Medicina de l’Esport Clínic Sant Joan de Déu, to demonstrate the physical and emotional benefits of practicing SUP as an alternative therapy to treat various disabling diseases, starting in this first phase of the study with musculoskeletal diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, multiple arthrogryposis, Sjögren’s syndrome, among others.

    The aim of the project, led by Carolina Navalon-Martinez, the first woman with disabilities in Spain champion of Catalonia Sup Race 3 Km, together with the surf and paddle surf school Blue Salt School Barcelona and the Gloria Soler Foundation, is, once the study is completed with the conclusions derived from it, to scale the results so that they can be applied as an alternative therapy to conventional ones for adults with disabling pathologies in different contexts and geographical areas.

    The Blue Soler project has the support of the Catalan Surf Federation and the International Surf Therapy Organization, as well as the collaborating patient organizations: Asociación Artrogriposis Múltiple Congénita, Reumas-Lliga Reumatològica Catalana, Asociación Sjögren España, Ceade-Espondilitis Anquilisante and Associación AsGlutdiece.

    The pilot test is structured in two phases, the first, already started, began in April and ends in June of this year and the second will begin in September and end in November 2024. In both phases, a group of “impatient patients” have been selected to demonstrate that lack of movement is the worst possible prescription in musculoskeletal diseases such as those they suffer from. With the advice and day-to-day monitoring of INEF professionals, a physiotherapist and the technical instructors of the Blue Salt school, the patients are working on strength, balance, breathing, mobility, technical skills and the ability to move.

    The study, with three phases of physical and emotional measurement of the state of the patients, one at the beginning, another in the middle of the test and a last one at the end, will conclude with results on their trajectory and evolution in this period of time.

    The main idea is to bring the sea, the sport, the community and the environment of surfing in an inclusive way to adults with pathologies with pain that demotivates them leading to the absence of movement. Carolina, patient advocate, has experienced firsthand the benefits of approaching this environment to improve her way of life, and does not cease in its efforts to share it with the world so that her experience can help others in the same situation.