Twenty sixteen began with the my top 3 New Years goals being surf more, surf better, surf faster. At the time I was in Hawkes Bay NZ and the ocean was flat, so I was dying to surf. During my first surf back home on the Northern Beaches, I tore my right hamstring. My favourite local spot was breaking and no-one was out, and I hadn’t surfed in 10 days… So after 5 nice waves I was back in the groove and did a speed float over a barrelling section. Upon landing I felt a POP at the origin of my medial hamstring (semitendonosis) – followed by a sharp and powerful contraction of the rest of the hamstring group. As I hobbled up the beach barely able to walk I knew it was bad.
Pain gets to a certain point where it starts to take over your whole body – nausea sets in, brain fog and lethargy as well. The leg in spasm, combined with intense swelling puts a lot of pressure on the sciatic nerve – causing sharp throbbing pain. But the real pain is in the ego. You think you’re strong – then you break. You wonder if will you make a full recovery? How did this happen? Why?…
“The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions”
– Dr J Demartini
Then you remember Mick Fanning tore his hamstring far worse than yours and he went on to become better than ever. And you start to ask yourself some different questions; How will this injury make me a better surfer? How will this injury make me a better person? What opportunities will come from this injury? Because there is always a balance in life, as one door closes – another opens. My top 3 New Year’s goals will continue to be worked on, just in a different way than i’d thought.
The rehab process can build a hamstring stronger than the one that broke, the upper body can still be trained, as can the left leg. Being a better surfer is not just about surfing (on your feet) better. Great surfers are also; great paddlers, breath holders, have incredible balance, have fast eyes/vision, can control their nervous system well… There are lots of thing to work on when you have an injury. Take the time time to see all the positives in any situation.