Lugnut enjoying the view
Ok back to my story. My buddy Lugnut says “so you wanna bodysurf? Let’s go bodysurf.” He gets me to swim out on a not so small Winter day. The good news is that he didn’t make me wear a Speedo, letting me wear my wetsuit. Turns out HE doesn’t wear a Speedo and wears a wetsuit in the winter. Things are looking up! The bad news is that the surf is big. But with a little encouragement and by following him around I became fully confident and had a blast! I even earned a word or two of praise for my willingness to take off into pits.
Well that’s all it took. Now I was hanging out with a different crew, learning a whole new way of wave reading and riding. Some things were the same, but some things were completely different. The first thing I noticed was the attitude of other bodysurfers in the water and the bodysurfing vibe in general. Seemed to be a more inclusive way of thinking -people said hi to each other in the water, there was fun banter and encouragement. Now this is was kinda new to me. I’ve just spent the last 20 years (foot) surfing at a pretty localized spot, sure we laugh and joke, but it’s usually at someone else’s expense and the vibe is always unfriendly to outsiders. This was refreshing and totally unexpected.
The other thing I notice right away is the freedom I feel and closeness to the ocean. I was completely immersed and engaged with every nuance the ocean sent my way. I was really IN the water. I felt like I was a part of the ocean and its energy in a way that I didn’t on a surfboard. Sliding under set waves became a game; late take offs and poundings, part of the fun. Yes it’s true bodysurfing is definitely a workout. There is swimming involved: currents and water flow have way more influence on a bodysurfer in the water than they do on a foot surfer on the water. But this is part of the draw -the exercise and feeling of accomplishment after a hard session of bodysurfing. Also I found that I could easily make time for a half hour to 45 minute go-out, getting the same workout it would take me a couple hours to get foot surfing. Awesome reason number three for my new sport!
Fun Times. Corbin “handsurfing”
Awesome reason number four is that my neck and back don’t hurt any more! Wow, what a difference. As we all know surfing is hard on the back and neck. As relaxed as we may seem, we are always gripping and digging and gouging. When it comes right down to it a surfboard is always offering resistance to various joints. I’m not saying that there is no tension in bodysurfing, but it’s WAY less. If you’re not swimming or sliding you are actually suspended in water. It doesn’t get any more chill than that. I’m hooked!
So let’s see… I get new friends, a new sport, a new way of engaging with the ocean, increased cardiovascular workouts, less stress and impact on the body; neck and back pain nearly gone. And all can be experienced in 45 minutes before I head out to work. Sounds like a keeper to me. Fast forward 15 years and you find me bodysurfing AND board surfing. Seems that if I balance my time on a surfboard with time bodysurfing I can do both.
The moral of the story is (though I’m no doctor) that if you have back & neck pain and you want to be in the water, buy a pair of fins, you’ll be glad you did.