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If Steph can do it….

By October 18, 2014 Surf more
Balance training homework - Steph Gilmore looking effortless, me looking less so. Note my proximity to the wall for safety!

Balance training homework – Steph Gilmore looking effortless, me looking less so. Note my proximity to the wall for safety!

At my first training session last week, Kathryn really put me through my paces….and that was just the start!

The idea was to find out what level my fitness was at, set my weights, get the technique sorted and generally, see what I could do. The cardio side wasn’t too much of a problem, helped by the recent swimming and spin classes, but the weights were a different story.

Spaghetti arms

My arms have never been particularly strong but coupled with 7 months with no weight training thanks to my shoulder injury, my arms have turned to mush. I was also pretty nervous about the weights as I didn’t want to set the shoulder off again but the good thing about working with someone who knows what they are doing, is that they know what not to do to risk re-injury.

I had never done any of the kind of weight training that Kathryn has devised for me. It felt so much better doing free weights rather than relying on machines (my arms hurt like hell the next day!). I’ve heard its way more effective so I’m hoping I will see a more noticeable difference over time. My routine looks a bit like this:

  • Lunge/bicep curls – 10 reps x 3 (hurts like hell!)
  • Squat drops – 10 reps x 3 (evil!)
  • Arnold arms – 15 reps x 2 (killer!)
  • Tricep pulldown – 10 reps x 3
  • Chest ceiling push (bench press) – 10 reps x 3
  • Jumping squats – 10 reps x 3 (leg burners!)

Not so balanced

Relieved after that lot that we were running short of time, and didn’t have chance to go through the core programme, I thought I was onto a winner when Kathryn announced that she was going to test my balance. This has always been my stronger point having done ballet when I was younger. It’s also one of the best bits about my surfing.

But when she pointed to a swiss ball and told me to get on it and balance, I just couldn’t do it. Hanging onto the wall to hoist myself onto the ball, I lasted about 2 seconds before I fell off sideways. I was gutted, I thought balance was my strong point and I was determined to prove that I didn’t totally suck.

So that’s been my homework for the past week, and initially I thought it was impossible. But then I saw Steph Gilmore doing it in her film ‘Stephanie in the Water.’ Steph and pro skateboarder (and legend) Tony Hawk have been my inspiration for the past week.  Whenever Tony was trying to learn a new trick on his skateboard, he said:

“If something’s been done it’s so much easier to learn it than if its never been done before. If someone else has made it, its possible that you can do it.”

Thanks to Steph and Tony, and some perseverance from me, I steadily managed 10 seconds, then 20, then 30. And on Wednesday, I got to 1 minute 10 seconds!!

Steph can do this for 2 hours at a time, so I have still got a fair way to go. But with Kathryn getting me onto the bosu ball and doing a lot of balance work over the next few weeks, I will be a seasoned pro before you know it 😉


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A motivational kick up the backside

By October 12, 2014 Surf more

Recently, I have been lacking fitness motivation and I don’t know why. Maybe its because I have had so much going on and things have been a bit crazy. Or because I haven’t surfed for a few weeks, or because I am landlocked…and is all that effort worth it when I surf infrequently?

Maybe it’s because it’s getting cold and dark and I just can’t be bothered to haul myself to the gym. But that’s the worst excuse out of all them – I have got a surf trip in a couple of weeks, I should be fired up!

Maybe I just need to accept that I’m having a blip, stop beating myself up and put that energy into doing something about it.

Pro surfer Lakey Peterson getting some pre-heat tips from coach MIke Parsons. She gets de-motivated from time to time...doesnt she?

Pro surfer Lakey Peterson getting some pre-heat tips from coach Mike Parsons. She gets de-motivated from time to time…doesnt she?

I owe myself

Over the past week I spoke to a couple of surfers who are also feeling de-motivated for different reasons, so I’m not alone which made me feel better. Out of those conversations I learned that even those who live by the coast get de-motivated to surf and keep fit, and that my recent shoulder injury was still playing on my mind despite getting the all-clear a few weeks ago, and undoubtedly one of the reasons for my lack of motivation.

Surfabella gave me two good pieces of advice – 1) set some realistic goals and 2) you never regret a workout but you do regret skipping one. It took me back to last year at the height of my surf fitness. I hated missing gym sessions and felt so much stronger and more energised. And with the recent sudden death of my dad, and my mum’s partner passing away last year after a long illness, the reason for getting fit is not just for the surfing. I owe it to myself to look after my body, be healthy and be as fit and active as long as I can.

Asking for help

I work best with input from others, and tend to get overwhelmed when I try and put together a fitness plan myself. I have scoured the internet for hours finding all sorts of surf specific activities and exercises, but when it comes to mapping it into my week, I end up filling 7 days which is just not realistic or sensible. Plus there’s my swimming lessons to consider and my regular spin class.

So I fixed up a consultation with one of the personal trainers at my local gym and was stoked to learn that she could do sport specific programmes. She listened and completely understood the lack of motivation, the need for a kick up the backside, and what I wanted to achieve. We talked about strength, stamina and balance, all the essential ingredients for surf fitness and was excited when she discussed some very surf specific exercises. She will be helping me build my strength slowly post-injury, as well as looking at nutrition, and what foods to eat pre and post surf.

The impossible dream

During the consultation, I told her about another reason why I wanted to get fit and it was something I had pushed to the back of my mind because I thought it was impossible. I want to get surf fit to surf better, but more specifically, I want to be able to ride a shortboard. I loved riding that longboard earlier this year and the idea of catching loads of waves easily is great, but I struggle to carry my minimal down to the beach…so why would I want to trade that for something even bigger? I have also watched so much of the ASP tour this year and fallen in love with that side of surfing – the athletic manoeuvres of the cutbacks and snaps. I’m not saying I have designs on being able to do stuff like that but to come down quite significantly in board size would be amazing!

Two people have told me that because I am landlocked, I will never be able to achieve this as I don’t have enough regular exposure to the sea. And when someone tells me that I can’t do something, I will do everything in my power to prove them wrong.

Making a start

As the trainer says, it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be a long road…a marathon instead of a sprint. But if I can do this, and prove to those two people that they said ‘can’t’ to the wrong person, I will be majorly stoked!

I have made a start, and did my first session last week followed by a swimming lesson the next day. I’m aching and have never felt so sore following a gym session. But it’s a start, and that start has created the spark of motivation that I needed. I’m fired up and ready to go, and I will share my progress here over the coming weeks!


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Beyond Sight

By October 11, 2014 Love

Derek Rabelo is an amazing guy. He’s humble, loves people, has huge amounts of faith and is a great surfer.

Derek is also blind and has been since birth, but this hasn’t stopped from him from pursuing his dream of surfing the legendary Pipeline.


Life changing stories

When I found out that Derek was presenting his film ‘Beyond Sight’ which charts his journey at only four locations in the UK, I snapped up a pair of tickets straight away. I love surf documentaries, especially those which focus on an individual. I love to hear their stories, how they got into surfing and how, like me, surfing has changed their lives.

But it’s those stories, where individuals have triumphed over adversity, or achieved their goals regardless of setbacks and challenges in life that really grab my attention and Derek’s story was no exception.

Derek’s journey

The film begins with Derek’s birth, blindness and childhood growing up in Brazil and it’s an emotional rollercoaster from the start. From the heart wrenching confession of Derek’s mother, who almost had an abortion when falling pregnant with Derek, to seeing Derek standing on a surfboard for the first time, right through to the hilarious moments which show Derek’s sheer determination which include his insistence of riding a skateboard. He does it all – even tow-in surfing!

The Q&A session at the end of the film with Derek Rabelo

The Q&A session at the end of the film with Derek Rabelo

Meeting the legends

Through his journey, Derek meets, surfs with and gets advice and encouragement from some of the sport’s legends – Rob Macahdo, Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater and even Eddie Rothman of Hawaii’s legendary Da Hui, a former surf gang who protested when contest surfers began forcing the locals out of their favourite surf breaks. Eddie even enforces the closure of Pipeline, to enable Derek to surf safely without the crowds. Derek also meets Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm to a shark when surfing at the age of 13. Like Derek, Bethany is very religious and put her faith in God to triumph over adversity.

Leap of faith

Faith is the overarching theme of the film and the clear message is that the best journeys in life are walked by faith and not by sight. Derek relies on his other senses to surf and when asked in the film how he knows when to duck dive and when to pop up, he replies that he hears and feels the ocean. But what really amazed me was when asked by a member of the audience at the end of the film to explain what he fears, he simply responded, “I don’t have a relationship with fear, I have a relationship with faith.”

It’s this belief that will undoubtedly carry Derek to his next mission where he is aiming even higher…to surf the notorious Jaws!

Good luck Derek! I will be watching your story with interest!


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A very landlocked birthday

By September 24, 2014 Thoughts
You know you're a surfer when you get surf birthday cards and related presents

You know you’re a surfer when you get surf birthday cards and related presents

Today, I’m celebrating my birthday. I would love to be in the sea but, having a midweek birthday when everyone is at work (including myself) has made it impossible this year to get to the coast.

Since taking up surfing, I try and do something on my birthday that kind of relates somehow. Last year, I went to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham with my best friend. This year, I have got two new surf DVDs to watch which I will be settling down with later. I don’t know anything about them but they both feature some amazing surfers, such as Tom Curren, Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater and John John Florence.

I had been hoping to catch up with the latest stop on the ASP world tour, but a lay day has been called, so it’s something to look forward to tomorrow.

I have been amazed at the number of messages I have had today – not just from my friends and family, but from the surfing community too. My favourite is by far the one from my fab Twitter friend @seasidedolly who sent me a pic of Kelly Slater’s bum! Very thoughtful and funny 🙂

I have also had a lovely present from my landlocked surf friend – a fab memento of Mawgan Porth and a gorgeous bracelet courtesy of Cornish jeweller Disco Beads! Even my birthday cards this year have had a distinct surf feel too them – from the amazing artwork of  Claire Britcliffe to an iconic big wave scene from my mum. My friends and family know me so well!

But its next weekend when I’m really going to celebrate with some surf related activities. I’m trying stand up paddle boarding for the first time and, I’m stoked to be attending The Wave’s screening of ‘Beyond Sight’, the story of blind surfer Derek Rabelo and his mission to surf the notorious (and dangerous ) Pipeline in Hawaii. It’s funny, because both of these events will be taking place in landlocked locations!

In a couple of years, I have got a big birthday to celebrate, and I’m thankful that it’s on a Saturday! No prizes for guessing where I will be and what I will be doing 😉


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By September 17, 2014 Escape, Thoughts

I’m feeling truly blessed after an amazing weekend in Cornwall to celebrate the wedding of one of my fellow landlocked surf friends.

I have only known my friend for a few months, so I was stoked and honoured to be invited to share her special day. It really was a wedding with a difference and the amount of detail and thought that went into it was truly amazing. The whole thing reflected the happy couple’s love for Cornwall, and the bride’s passion for surfing.

Wedding collage 2

The detail

Following a blessing and vow reading on Mawgan Porth beach, it was back to the rustic and perfect setting of Retorick Mill for an informal reception. It’s a favourite of the bride and groom and the marquee and barn areas were decked out in fairy lights, bunting, and surfboard shaped display boards. There were sweets and ice cream (courtesy of a Roskilly’s ice cream trike), and the most amazing afternoon tea with locally sourced produce thanks to Scott the chef from The Park in Mawgan Porth.

Wedding collage

That’s entertainment

Bude-based band, The Claze treated us to 2 hours of acoustic covers. I sat transfixed as they sang song after song injected with some hilarious moments (their announcement of afternoon tea and the speeches were priceless and I wish I had recorded them!). But it was the first dance, a beautiful, spine tingling rendition of the Foo Fighters’ ‘Times Like These’ which reduced me to tears.

Those tears of happiness were soon swapped for tears of laughter when it was time for the guests to try their hand at surfing. Not the real thing (although a very close second) , but a surf simulator. Think bucking bronco..but with a surfboard. Needless to say the kids were brilliant, the adults less so and there were some hilarious results. Ranging from lasting only 2 seconds or unable to even stand up on the board in the first place…I won’t mention any names 😉

By night fall, there was even more gorgeous food, the second band, Rudi’s Message were in full flow with their ska hits and Retorick Mill was ablaze with fairy lights, candlights and a huge firepit. There were blankets and marshmallows, and a sound system which took the guests into the early hours.

Kirsty and KellyThe aloha spirit

Words and pictures alone can’t even begin to capture the amount of love, laughter, joy and emotion of that day. The aloha spirit was well and truly alive and the next day, the bride shared her love of surfing with some of the guests through surf lessons with KingSurf. It took me back to my first lesson with those guys and the sounds of whopping, laughter and hollering, and the sights of plenty of shakas been thrown around was amazing. Me and my hubby joined them and got some really sweet rides which I captured on my Contour Roam.

No words

This amazing celebration of love was truly one of the best days of my life, the kind you want to bottle and keep, and I don’t know how to thank the bride and groom enough for inviting me to share it with them.

So, Kelly and Carl, I simply say ‘mahalo’, Hawaian for thanks, gratitude, admiration, praise, esteem, regards, or respects. It’s a beautiful word and to me, with its many meanings, says so much more than thank you.

I wish you both a wonderful future together and many more happy times in your favourite place in the world 🙂

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Last days of summer

By September 6, 2014 Thoughts
Chapel Porth sunset - image courtesy of Philip Male via Flickr cc (CC BY)

Chapel Porth sunset – image courtesy of Philip Male via Flickr cc (CC BY)

I have had some fantastic surf sessions over the past few months, despite an injured shoulder and prolonged flat spells. I have enjoyed beautiful sunshine, long hot days, surfing with friends and post-surf ice creams!

But now the nights are drawing in, the leaves are falling, and despite the warm weather over the past few days, there’s a definite hint of Autumn in the air. I love these 3 months leading up to Christmas. Despite the dark nights and mornings, frosts and generally crap weather, I look forward to my birthday, Halloween, Bonfire Night, my wedding anniversary, and Christmas. But since I started surfing, I love Autumn even more.

Autumn collage

Top left image – ‘Autumn…’ courtesy of cadillacdeville2000 via Flickr (CC BY) –

Yes, the sea is a lot cooler, but the beaches are a lot quieter and the conditions are better. We can wave a temporary goodbye to flat days, and say hello to some of the best surfing that the UK has to offer. And with a good winter wetsuit, thermal rash vest, boots, gloves and a hood (for when it’s really cold), there’s no reason not to stay in for as long as we do in the summer months.

There’s also nothing more satisfying after an Autumn/Winter surf than a hot bath, hot chocolate and a thaw out in front of a fire.

But some remnants of summer remain and next weekend, I’m off to Cornwall to celebrate my landlocked surf friend’s wedding. There will be a beach ceremony, surfing, ice cream, heaps of laughs and loads of fun. It’s the perfect end to the summer and I can’t wait!!

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And breathe…

By August 26, 2014 Surf more
Front crawl via Simply Swim UK (CC BY SA)

Front crawl via Simply Swim UK (CC BY SA)

Not paddling enough is one of the most common mistakes amongst beginner surfers which results in missed waves. You know that feeling you get when the wave just rolls underneath your surfboard and passes you by? Or when you paddle and feel like you are wading through treacle?

I have known for a while that my paddling sucks and when I go for a wave, I don’t feel like I’m actually getting anywhere. A few people have commented on this and I have also been told that when I go for a wave, I don’t paddle with any conviction – in fact, I look almost like I don’t want to catch the wave.

Before I started surfing, I had never been in the sea. I was always very wary of it and never what you would call a natural water baby. I had swimming lessons at school, but was never taught how to breathe properly, and I hated putting my face in the water.

This nervousness has stayed with me which, coupled with my lack of power and paddling strength, is having an impact on my surfing.

So, I have been hitting my local swimming pool to build my confidence and to improve my paddling technique. To do this, I have been starting from scratch with front crawl which means learning how to breathe correctly. It’s something that’s not coming very easily. I’m fine when I’m hanging on to the side and practising putting my head in the water and breathing, but for some reason, when I start to swim, I panic and start coughing and spluttering.

Today though, I managed a length of the pool, without stopping halfway and swallowing a load of water. It’s a small step and its very early days but for me, a real achievement,

Swim fit kit including a float, noseplug and a power stroke chord

Swim fit kit including a float, noseplug and a power stroke chord

It’s an irrational panic of not being able to breathe, and explains why I hate wiping out in the sea, don’t like paddling out too far, and why I get nervous when I see a wave bigger than 2 ft approaching. But I’m determined to overcome it and get to a point where the stroke becomes second nature. From there, I can really start to pound and sprint lengths of the pool, which will improve my stamina and build power, ultimately helping me to paddle out in bigger swell, and mimick the explosive moves required to catch a wave and paddle with more conviction.

So, if you are like me and think your paddle power could do with some work, or you’re just not hugely confident in the water here are my top tips:

  • Get some swimming lessons – there are loads of classes out there for all levels of ability. A qualified instructor can evaluate your current technique and come up with a plan for how you can progress and help to build your confidence
  • Swim as often as you can – practise makes more perfect and the more often you swim, the more you you will improve your technique, paddle power and stamina. Its also by far the best exercise you can do as a surfer. If you are a bit self conscious or don’t like crowded pools, chose a quiet session, or time it so that you swim towards the end of a session when everyone else is generally getting out
  • Can’t get to the pool? – get yourself a power stroke chord. Available from around £25-£30, they are ideal for people who don’t get much pool exposure. This handy piece of kit allows you to mimick the stroke on dry land and build your upper body strength
  • Poor breathing technique? – try a nose plug. It will isolate your breathing allowing you to focus on just breathing through your mouth. Its also a good idea to practise your breathing at the side of the pool, then gradually introduce elements of the stroke before having a go at swimming a length
  • Combine your swimming with other cardiovascular exercise – this will improve your stamina in your pool
  • YouTube is a fantastic resource with lots of videos on front crawl technique, swim fitness drills and breathing techniques. Can be useful to look at before you get in the pool.
  • Keep calm and carry on! – panic doesn’t help and just exerts more energy. If you feel yourself needing a breather stop, get your breath back and compose yourself. It takes time so be patient and take it one step at a time.

Have you got any hints and tips for improving paddle power? Do you get nervous in the sea and don’t like being underwater? If so, how did you manage this? Get in touch, I would love to hear from you 🙂

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Stephanie in the Water

By August 17, 2014 Love
Steph Gilmore in the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach 2010.  Image by surfglassy via Flickr, CC BY SA

Steph Gilmore in the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach 2010. Image by surfglassy via Flickr, CC BY SA

Last night I watched the long-awaited documentary about five-time ASP world champion Stephanie Gilmore. I didn’t know a great deal about Steph before watching the film, so I was looking forward to getting an insight into her life on and off tour.

Spoiler alert – don’t read on if you’re planning on watching!

Stephanie in the Water’ charts Steph’s meteoric rise to success starting in 2007 when she won the world title on her rookie year aged just 17…and she didn’t stop there. Steph dominated women’s surfing for the next consecutive three years until a shocking event in 2011 called a halt to her winning streak.

I had no idea about what had happened to Steph, and was truly shocked to learn that she was attacked outside her home. As well as the psychological effect this must have had on her, it also unfortunately had an impact on her surfing and the 2011 world title passed to Carissa Moore.

What I liked about the documentary was the no-holds barred view, especially seeing Steph struggle to hand over the title to Carissa, looking downright peeved at a press conference and refusing to do yet another interview. Yet behind this is a determination to win no matter what, because winning is all Steph has known since the age of 17.

I didn’t enjoy the documentary as much as ‘From Zero to 100’ as I don’t think Steph’s personality came across as much as I expected. However, as it focussed on serious subject matters in parts, it was never going to show someone having heaps of fun.

There’s no doubt about it, Steph Gilmore is one hell of a determined lady and I admire her strength and fighting spirit. Her winning streak is far from over, and although I’m a die hard Lakey Peterson fan, I will be rooting for Steph to rival surf legend Layne Beachley’s 7 ASP world titles!

Stephanie in the Water is available to stream or download now!

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Back where I belong

By August 13, 2014 Escape

Last weekend, I travelled down to Cornwall for the annual Boardmasters surf competition and music festival. It was a great opportunity to see some live surf action, meet some new people, catch up with friends and of course go surfing! I was keen to find out if the steroid injection that I had to alleviate my shoulder problem had done the trick!

Paddle paddle!

Perran Sands (copyright Duncan Toms via Flickr - CC BY NC)

Perran Sands (copyright Duncan Toms via Flickr – CC BY NC)

I met up with Amy from Mellow Waves at Perran Sands – a 2-mile beach break which I had never surfed at before. I love heading to new spots, and despite a 200-foot descent to the beach, it’s a great beach for beginners, is uncrowded and produces some slow forgiving waves. It works at all stages of the tide and luckily, we were greeted with 2-3 ft clean waves – ideal conditions for my level of surfing!

Post surf with Amy from Mellow Waves!

Post surf with Amy from Mellow Waves!

I had a great time, caught some great waves and my shoulder gave me no hassle at all! It was obvious though, that despite me getting to my feet a lot quicker now than I have been, my paddling desperately needs some work! My doggy paddle style just doesn’t cut it and its partly down to wariness of the wave and partly wariness of aggravating my shoulder. I don’t get anywhere when I do paddle, I miss waves and all the upper body strength that I built up last year went out of the window with the shoulder injury. As Amy said, one of the common mistakes that beginners make is not paddling hard enough. This is something that I will be focussing on from now on and I have got some ideas on how to go about it – more on that later.


Kooking around post-surf

Kooking around post-surf

The trip also gave me the chance to hook up with Pete from Kingsurf. The last time I surfed with Pete was a year ago, the day I collected my brand new surfboard from Nigel Semmens. I was hoping that he would see some improvement since last year and give me some pointers for moving forward. We headed to Harlyn, a sheltered break which is ok for beginners but you need to catch it at the right stage of the tide (best at low to mid). The waves were small so we headed for Constantine Bay. A totally different story greeted us there – Constantine picks up a lot of swell so gets big and where Harlyn was producing 1-2 foot waves, Constantine was more like 3-4ft. Getting beyond the breaking waves was impossible and it was like paddling through treacle, but I managed to get a couple of nice waves! And, after getting some tips on how to make turns, I was able to tun the board both left and right…all on one wave!

Being landlocked hasn’t prevented me from me progressing with my surfing!

Pete gave me some really positive feedback and said I had progressed really well within a year, particularly with me being landlocked. He commented on my ability to stand up consistently,  especially on a fibreglass board given my limited time in the water, the fact that I was starting to work well on turns and move naturally with the wave. I was really stoked and just goes to show that being landlocked hasn’t prevented me from progressing with my surfing!

Back to reality…back to the gym!

It was an awesome weekend and has given me lots to think about. Now I’m back in landlockedsville, its time to get back in the gym and start building up my upper body strength, so here’s what I’m planning:

  • Get in the swimming pool – its the next best thing to getting in the sea to work on my paddling technique so lots of front crawl!
  • Use the hand bike – a great upper body workout
  • Get a Power Stroke chord – they are ideal for people who don’t get much time in the water
  • Stick with the spin classes – they are great for building up stamina and cv fitness
  • Get back to a core routine work on core strength and flexibility.

I have also got a surf specific fitness programme called Shit to Fit that I’m keen to try so lots to be getting on with!

Look out for my Boardmasters experience on the Surfing Sumo website, coming soon!


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Shoulder injury verdict

By August 5, 2014 Surf more
The verdict is in on my shoulder!

The verdict is in on my shoulder!

Yesterday I had an appointment with the consultant to try and get some answers about my ongoing shoulder injury. Its been better over the past couple of weeks but I decided to keep the appointment; at least so that I could push for an x-ray to see exactly what is going on.

After an initial chat. a few questions and a few tests to see how far I could reach up and extend my arm, I was sent for an x-ray…and that was where things got interesting….

It turns out that I don’t have a problem with the AC joint at all. The x-ray showed nothing out of the ordinary – the AC joint is sitting where it should…no sign of separation at all and no signs of arthritis. The consultant seemed to think that it could be a cartilage issue however this doesn’t show up on x-ray.

He gave me a steroid injection which he hopes will settle everything down and wants to see me again in 6 weeks. He has also cleared me to go surfing and to get back into gym…slowly but surely!

My shoulder is feeling a bit sore today which is to be expected after the injection but it should wear off within a couple of days.

It has taken 6 months to find out what is going on, and its a huge relief to finally get some answers! I wish I had got an x-ray sooner, instead of just taking myself off to physio, but as it didn’t seem too serious at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing.

Moral of the tale with any injury – get it checked out properly by getting an x-ray in the initial stages!

But now I can get my stoke on, cos its time to go surfing again! I’m off to the Boardmasters surfing and music festival later this week so look out for lots of pics, words and stoke!

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