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Life, Surfing

Surfing and Posture

August 23, 2016
surfing blog

I want to be surfing in my 80’s. 90’s if possible. 100 would be pretty cool too…but that’s more about my ego than anything sane.

How then are the 40 year olds who are already getting back issues going to last?

I come across them regularly…most often the ones who have shifted to stand up paddling as a lesser test on the lower back and neck than paddling a board lying down. Unfortunately it’s not the solution. You may as well put a deposit down at the nursing home now. Nothing against the SUP’s of course! It’s just a slippery slide of removing movements from your life because you don’t know how to do them without pain. If your back is too tight to lie down on a board then it’s only a matter of time before it will be too tight for SUPs too.

Let’s be honest, surfing is not great for the average back. Sure, it looks like a healthy activity and certainly images of fit surfers make it seem as though surfing creates these bodies, but it actually does more damage than good if you don’t know what you’re doing the rest of the week.

How does one remain flexible enough throughout their life to continue enjoying the surf?

It doesn’t begin on the board.

Just as the self-funded retiree didn’t arrive at his sports car and yacht without working for it…maintaining mobility needs to be a constant focus.

Our western lifestyles revolve around sitting. We’ve all heard the latest fear campaign…very well spruiked by the stand-up desk marketers I might add, “Sitting is the new Smoking”. True enough, being sedentary is taxing on all areas of our body. Standing at the desk isn’t the cure-all…especially if a tight back is your main motivator.

Not being able to sit balanced means you are unlikely to stand balanced either. This lower back compression amounts to many more hours than you can possibly keep up with stretching, gym or yoga. So let’s see how to improve what you’re already doing before rushing out to “do more”.

At your desk:

1. From a sitting position, hinge your body all the way forward until your head is almost on the desk and you can feel a good stretch in the lower back. (a small gap will most likely appear between the back of your pelvis[sacrum bone] and the seat)

2. Lift your bum up and put it further back into the seat.

3. Now bring yourself back up into upright…noting how much taller you are sitting.

4. Bring the keyboard toward you so that your elbows are under your shoulders.

5. If you can’t touch type…no chair, no desk, no ergonomics can help your neck/upper back issues…can’t be clearer than that.

In the car:

Follow steps 1-3 above. (head to steering wheel)

4. Adjust your mirrors, slide the seat forward a fraction and notice that your arms aren’t reaching out to the steering wheel quite as far now.

Benefits: Less load on the shoulders and neck with head back, lower back discs are not being compressed backward as far, breathing becomes deeper.

On the couch:

Humans are meant to be upright and soft couch surfaces are a relatively recent invention in human evolutionary terms. Limit your time slumping on the couch to 1 hour a day and make sure there is something supporting the back of your head.

If you’re going to be there longer than 1 hour, kneel or squat on the ground for a short while to break it up.

Your surfing depends on the condition of your body.

What do you spend the majority of your time doing each week? This is what “conditions” your body. A few hours each week with the Personal Trainer is just a speck in the big scheme of things.

Being vertical the majority of your week will improve your surfing mobility. Try it for a month and see what happens… worst case scenario, your posture will improve.

Paul Cook runs workshops on self-education in posture, back-care and self-treatment of symptoms. His Relaxaback [] program has alleviated and/or solved thousands of back issues over the past 5 years. He is a teacher of the Alexander Technique working from The Healing Ground at EcoVillage, Currumbin Valley.


Business, Life, Surfing

The Short Story of The Surfing Accountant

May 31, 2015

It feels like I’ve been surfing for as long as I can remember, even though I didn’t actually start until I was 11. Born and raised in Woolgoolga – or Woopi as the locals know it – my first real surfing memory there is at Main Beach on a red-bottomed single fin surf board. I had to ride my bike down the big hill and then push it back up – not easy when you’re small and carrying a surfboard!

By the age of 13 I was surfing competitively & I won a Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain School Surfing Scholarship just before I turned seventeen. I spent the next three years on the local surf circuit, surfing my way into many finals including first place in the Open Mullaway Surf Classic in 1987!

Throughout my early surfing days I was sponsored by Hot Tuna, Prana Surfboards and Blue Lines Surf Centre, and couldn’t imagine doing much else with my life. However, I was always good at maths at school and when it came to the time to apply for university, accounting was my first choice.

I still surfed as much as I could when I was at uni, and in January 1991, I got my first job as an assistant accountant in an abattoir (nice) in Grafton NSW. Life got pretty busy for a while; I started my own business, and in 2003 Jaylan my son was born. With so many other priorities, surfing just took a back seat, and I stopped – probably without even realising it.

Fast forward about nine years, and a new client came into my accounting office on the Gold Coast. We were having a good chat about life, and surfing came up. I said “Oh, I used to surf” and they said, what do you mean you used to surf?!

One weekend they invited me out for a surf, so I ended up getting my boards out, cleaned one up and got out there amongst the waves. It was like I’d never stopped! I have surfed every week since without fail – huge thanks to my now friends Nam & Devo from Equalize Training Company for getting me back out there.

One of my favourite surfing memories (as a grown up!) is at the Maldives last year, surfing barrelling left-handers for over 4 hours, it was just epic! I want to go back there again soon, it’s the trip of a lifetime but hopefully not just once in my lifetime!

The best thing about being an accountant is seeing clients grow both with their business and personally. When I’m involved in that process it’s very rewarding, and so many of my clients have become good friends. It helps that most of them surf too – I’m not sure if that’s a coincidence or if it’s just how it’s ended up!

I get a real connection with the water and the waves; I just love sitting out there on my board, it recharges by batteries and I get this sense of total freedom. It really helps me to stay balanced and deal with pressures of life and running a business. So, you could say that surfing is now vital to the success of my accounting career – and for that I’m pretty grateful.