We like to ham up the ‘old’ thing a bit on Ageing Surfer, but really we’re all about challenging the idea that surfers are all tanned, hot young things with smiles that will steal your partners. As The Laird Our Father once said ‘I think age is a mentality. I think it’s a decision. I think we decide if we’re old or not. I see young guys deciding they’re old, I see old guys deciding they’re young.’ Well, we say decide you’re young then, and if you haven’t before, give it a craic.
Laird applies a pretty similar attitude to injuries. And he should know, collecting more than 1000 stitches over the years. (I wonder if that’s enough thread to weave a board bag out of…) He says ‘End in a completion. You end completing it. So that when you end, you’ve finished. You don’t finish on a negative; you finish on a positive. And I think it’s important. You know the old cliché ‘get back on the horse’ it’s for a reason they made that saying up.’ So it might have been a while, but let’s not end on a low. If you’re feeling fit enough, dust of the wetty and scrape that melted wax off the inside of your glove box, you’re going to need it.
‘THE BEST SURFER OUT THERE IS THE ONE HAVING THE MOST FUN’
It’s a mind-set thing. It’s important to not forget why you’re doing this. Why you got into it in the first place. As Endless Summer legend Phil Edwards once said ‘The best surfer out these is the one having the most fun’. That’s especially true after a break, or if you’re getting into this late in life. Yeah there’s the health benefits and the technical challenges and pushing yourself to get better and better, but don’t lose sight of that simple message. Hell, maybe get a sharpie and write it on your board somewhere.
It’s all pretty easily said though isn’t it. ‘It’s a mind set thing, just get happy and go have fun. GO ON, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! GO HAVE FUN OR YOU AND ME ARE ‘AVIN’ WORDS, MATE. C’MON.’ But what can you do to shape that mind-set? Especially if that mind-set is affected by physical injuries.
We thought we’d compile a bit of a list to help you come back, or get in for the first time.
GET LOOSE / STRETCH OUT
Physically and mentally, get loose. Just do some light exercises, work out what hurts, and how much. If you feel a bit ‘burger-lined’, you can do this out of site, but we say embrace it; nothing says confidence like doing lunges in a wetsuit on a rainy beach whilst winking at unsuspecting dog walkers.
If you haven’t been in any water at all for a little while, maybe go for a swim in a pool. Or if you’re itching for the sea, maybe forget your board and just bob about or body surf a bit. Whatever you choose, just relax and get loose.
GO FOR A PADDLE
So, go get your board and head straight for the… flattest bit of sea you can find. We’ll not quite the flattest, but the point is don’t worry about the waves so much. Get paddling, get used to the feel of it.
With 46% of surf related injuries affecting the shoulders it’s important to just make sure paddling is comfortable. And if you’ve not done this before you want to make sure you’re comfortable doing it at all. Paddling is a good, low impact activity for physical recovery as well as helping you get used to your board and the water (again).
RIDE SOME WHITE WATER
This is a bit of an extension of point above – it’s the next step. Feel the wave pick you up, get used to the feeling again. Don’t spend half an hour smashing through walls of white water to sit out back only to shit yourself and do some damage when the set rolls in. It’s all about not pushing yourself too fast or hard. Ride ’em broken for a while.
If you’re at a popular spot and there’s a surf school out, see where they’re hanging out. Don’t forget; they might be the best surfers out there, because they’re taking Phil Edward’s advice to heart. Knee injuries account for 28% of surf injuries, so if you’re suffering from one, give yourself time to pop up – don’t make a bad thing worse.