A few months ago, I had the rather unfortunate experience of breaking my arm. Not only did I shatter my elbow but I also managed to tear the fucking muscle off the bone.....
Recovery has been horrendous.
I visited the doctors and after an MRI was told I would possibly need rehab and surgery to remove bone fragments stuck within my elbow. Typical me I refused both and sought out other avenues all in the name of surfing.
I refused surgery as I cannot be bothered having extended recovery time and thus being out of the water for a long period. It's been a few months since my break but I actually headed back into the water after around 5 weeks after my break.
The first surf felt alien.
If I was to describe the feeling in my left arm, I could only describe it as feeling foreign. My movement at the time was limited and full arm extension is a long way off yet. I sought out small waves to ease myself back into surfing.
To help in the recovery process I sought out stretching techniques, yoga, foams rolling, and swimming at the local pool to help build up the muscle in my arm so I could surf again.
Why did I refuse rehab?
To be blunt, I knew what needed to happen to have full restoration of my arm. Time is the most important factor in any recovery process but I am impatient and stupid enough to push my boundaries, even when dealing with a broken arm.
So after 5 weeks of stretching, yoga, swimming, and enduring some of the weirdest pain I have ever endured I finally felt like I was ready to surf again.
On a week trip to Noosa, I stopped off at the Sunshine Coast and took the plunge on a quiet Thursday. The waves were small but still rideable with enough fury to feel some form of satisfaction. I headed out on my 5’ 10” Vessel Zephyr. My arm certainly ached as I paddled through motion after motion just as I had practised at the swimming pool.
As I waited for the next set a dull ache set in my arm. I freak out as I start to wonder if this is going to be a common occurrence every time I surf. As I catch my first wave I can feel my arm giving out as I push myself up but fuck, I am up nonetheless. After 20 minutes or so the dull ache seems to subside and I can surf at 85% of what I previously could before the break.
5 weeks later and I was already back in the water. Call me stupid, call me dumb but I don't always do well on land. After an hour or so I headed back in, humble/stoked for going surfing I notice my arm is no longer aching but also my range of motion has slightly improved. If only slightly, that is still considered a win.
I’m not saying you should ignore all doctors but had I listened to the doctor I would still be out of the water recovering from surgery. As it currently stands my arm is at a steady 90% functionality with just a little while longer to go.
I have since surfed quite a few times with no cause for concern. I am still foam rolling my arm daily, yoga is a part of my morning routine, and when there's no surf I am always at the pool. I guess the moral of the story is certainly keep your options open when it comes to your body. I certainly believe in going through the shit to appreciate the good and doing it on my own terms.
It's hectic when you get an injury that stops you from surfing, period. I’ve heard horror stories of back injuries etc. That have kept people out of the water for the rest of their life due to the advice of doctors. I really do believe if you fucking face it heads on with dedication you will eventually come to your fortune. It's not easy but if you genuinely love surfing, you wouldn’t give up!
Failing that get a kayak...