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April, 2014

Fun vs progression

By April 21, 2014 Escape, Thoughts

Video: Catching some waves at Saunton 

There is a saying amongst surfers that the best surfer is the one having the most fun. Last week in Croyde, despite a period of high pressure which meant some fairly flat surf, I had heaps of fun catching waves and getting some really cool rides. I don’t profess to be the best surfer in terms of ability, but as far as the fun factor goes, I reckon I’m now a worthy contender :)

At the beginning of the year, I resolved to get myself a GoPro or similar action camera so that I could film myself surfing. After I had bought it, I wondered if it was just a gimmick but having watched the footage back, it’s made me realise that it’s a really useful tool for checking my technique and, of course, to see how much fun Im having!

As I watch the 45 minutes worth of footage back (don’t worry, you guys have only got about 1 minutes worth!), I am seeing someone who has progressed loads since this time last year; I’m riding my own custom board, I’m catching waves , I’m standing up and I’m having fun. But, when I study my technique, I see how sloppy my arms are when I paddle, how long I take to get to my feet, how flat  sometimes my back is whilst in surfer stance and, the cardinal sin amongst proper surfers, using my knees to get to my feet. Frowned upon!

The fact is though, that if I want to progress out of the white water and into the amber nectar of green waves, I have got to ditch the knees approach and improve my paddling. When you are catching green waves, you have a lot less time to get to your feet (probably only a couple of seconds) and you need to increase speed to catch the wave. Watch any YouTube footage of pro surfers paddling for a wave and you will see a sudden burst of energy to get on the wave.

None of this a new revelation to me, yet I still insist on going to my knees. Why? Because I know that by doing so I can catch white water waves and get to my feet pretty much everytime now. I’m having fun and my current technique almost guarantees that and isn’t that what surfing should be about?

Yet I have a goal. My dream is to be able to come down in board size, duck dive, get out back, ride waves consistently, and be able to turn and pump for added speed. I also want to be confident in bigger surf.

To progress, Im going to have to take some steps backwards and start over with my technique. It probably means that my stand up ratio will plummet initially. I need to get out of the bad habits that I have developed and go back to the drawing board.

I have watched numerous YouTube videos on pop-up technique so now all I need to do is practise. The best place is obviously in the water but as Im landlocked, dry land will be a good place to start. Im working on the muscle memory principle – the more times you execute a motion the more muscle memory patterns you set. Practising on dry land though is not as forgiving as in the sea, and with my shoulder injury it’s not something Im going to be able to practise at the moment.

I need some help with a fitness programme that isn’t going to aggravate my shoulder further and get my surf fitness heading back in the right direction. Thanks to a plea for help on Twitter, I know just the guy who can help !

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My surf trip in pictures

By April 19, 2014 Escape

Last week I was in Croyde for a 4-day surf trip. Here’s a little taster of what I got up to……words (and video footage) to follow!

My recent surf trip

My recent surf trip

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Best laid plans

By April 6, 2014 Surf more, Thoughts

Back in January, in my ‘New Year, New Focus’ post, I talked about getting back in the gym and not using the Winter as an excuse. I was doing really well, going at least 3 times a week and had started a new TRX class which I was absolutely love. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect to get injured.

Kinesio tape

Kinesio tape

For about 7 weeks now, I have been experiencing pain in my right shoulder and first noticed it after one of my TRX classes. Stupidly though, I was determined to carry on and thought it was just a slight tweak, nothing serious so carried on. It was only after it worsened that I thought to get some help.

My physio tells me I have injured the acromioclavicular (ac) joint at the top of my shoulder. Luckily I’m not in constant pain with it but certain movements can set it off. I have had  about 5 physio sessions and have given been exercises to do, had deep tissue massages and had ultrasound on the area. I’m using kinesio tape, bags of frozen peas and last week, I had acupuncture. The diagnosis is that it’s not an exercise related injury, but postural, and I’m working hard to not get tense as this is exacerbating the problem.

I have also been told it could take months to heal properly, which is not what a surfer wants to hear! Especially as my next surf trip is rapidly approaching – 5 days to get in some intensive practise. The physio has advised me to maybe surf on one day followed by a rest day. …but will that really happen? I will be on a diet of kinesio tape and frozen peas whilst keeping up with my exercises to make sure I don’t make things worse!

Are you a surfer or a sportsperson who has experienced injury and carried on regardless? How did you prevent further injury or did you make things worse?

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