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September 2005 Vol. 20, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Watch That Giant Stride

from the September, 2005 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Two of our readers returned from Bonaire a while back and wrote: "We dived 2-3 times a day for six days. At the resort the pier was 5 feet above the water, and we used a giant stride to get in. The last day, my husband and I both experienced 'groin pulls' from the giant stride into the water. Two days later, I came down with the worst case of sciatica I have ever had! I ended up at the doctor's office and was put on meds to ease the pain and stop the spasms. My right leg went numb to the touch and hurt like you know what! Have you ever done an article about problems with the giant stride?"

We haven't, but we asked Dr. Ern Campbell, aka Scuba Doc, what he thought of this injury. After all, sciatica is one painful problem. He told us:

"The impact of jumping off a dock in full gear will apply a significant force to the intervertebral spaces. For a person with poor muscular development or an incipient disc herniation, the impact may cause a protrusion of the disc onto the nerve root(s), thereby causing sciatica, pain down the leg, caused by irritation of the main sciatic nerve into the leg. Other things can cause irritation of or pressure on a nerve in the spine. Sometimes this may be a rough and enlarged part of a vertebra, brought about by aging, and sometimes rarer conditions, infections and tumors are to blame.

Other injuries can occur. I've personally stepped onto a coral head from a moving boat swinging at anchor and scared the hell out of an unseen shark (and me) with another diver.

But I've found these in the literature.

As a snorkel diver he hit the water, the glass in his face mask shattered.

A diver under training made a stride entry, but his cylinder was not securely fastened and it struck the back of his head causing a wound requiring stitches.

During a training drill at a Red Sea school, a diver suffered concussion when her first stage hit the back of her head during a stride entry. As she hit the water, her BCD waist straps came undone, allowing her cylinder and valve to ride up her back

A diver made a stride entry into the water at night. She had a torch on a lanyard attached to her right arm, and it struck her arm and fractured it.

It's conceivable that a giant stride entry could cause testicular injury in men; it would be helpful if we had a third hand to hold on to the cojones. Whether the back roll is any safer from a high transom or dock would be problematic.

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