The news really is spreading, muscle is making headlines. Well, bylines, anyway. The journalist Matt Rudd has for some time been the Sunday Times’ fitness and work-out correspondent and after a long spell of high intensity cardio and aerobic work has at last brought his training regime round to the subject of muscle. Too much of the cardio has left him with not enough of it and he has now been advised to remedy that. Hurrah, at last someone is writing sensibly about the importance to health of skeletal muscle. Rather pompously we refer to it by its correct anatomical name to avoid the macho/instagram/facebook connotations that talking about muscles in the plural gives rise to. SGSC tweeted him about it, and you can read that here.
Anyway, to continue ... interesting as that is and even though Rudd is in his early forties and is probably thinking about his future as an older adult he isn’t really in Silver Grey territory. But when one of the foremost surfing and surf forecasting websites, Magic Seaweed, publishes an article entitled How to Surf Forever then we’re much closer to home.
The Magic Seaweed article begins by referencing two separate instances where pro surfers, Taylor Knox being one and Mick Fanning the other, worked their way back to strength and fitness after suffering ‘career-threatening injuries’. The article uses those events as a starting point to ask whether rehabilitating an injury, or avoiding one altogether, should be the only motivation for fitness or whether staying fit in itself is what it’s all about, particularly when thinking about the idea of being able to continue surfing to an older and older age. To answer that question the writer of the article interviews chiropractor/surfer/holistic health advocate Tim Brown about ways to maintain your ability to surf well into your 60’s and beyond (we’d be really looking forward to that ourselves, except that the ‘into your sixties’ part has already happened!)and gets some good advice on that subject.
Some of Brown’s best advice concerns how important it is to keep your muscles ‘long’ as well as strong. In fact he reckons that “Length before strength” is the name of the game, that flexibility and mobility are the most important factors for being able to keep surfing. He has some interesting things to say about making sure you warm up pre-surfing, but also very interesting is his insistence on post surfing recovery, ridding one’s body of lactic acid build-up, and also making sure you are properly hydrated. Yoga and breathing techniques are also mentioned as good things to include in your surf training.
Anyone who has read articles on this site will know that we believe that for an older adult maintaining muscle mass and strength is fundamentally important both for being able to continue with sports and for quality of life in general. Although the advice about flexibility and breathing techniques is important, in our opinion not enough emphasis in this article is placed on the negative effects of loss of muscle, and there’s a feeling that just doing the sport will be enough to maintain the strength required for the sport. But we know that without enough strength for such a demanding sport as surfing you’re not even at first base, so losing muscle mass is really something to be avoided for older adults so avoiding it must be worked at as an aim in itself.
But what we do like is this. Firstly, a major player in the surf scene has taken seriously the idea that surfing, and by implication all other extreme/adventure sports, are not the exclusive domain of the young. And secondly, if you do want to stay involved in sports as an older adult, keep yourself in shape and there really are no limits apart from what you yourself allow.