2020 and some of 2021 has been a test for pretty much all of us in one way or another. We’ve been asked to home school our children, work from home, don’t go out, go out but wear a mask, sing happy birthday 2 times and many other things that will undoubtable change our lives for many years to come.

One of the hardest things for me was having the opportunity to bodyboard taken away. The ocean really has become a safe haven for me and has offered solitude and thinking time when I’ve needed it the most. A safe place to clear my mind if you like.

Throughout lockdown I looked forward to the time when the restrictions would lift and I could jump in the car with the family and head to the sea.

Unfortunately, since Christmas Eve I have had an ongoing issue with my back that has led to nerve damage and a huge amount of pain and sometimes, very limited mobility. Not ideal for sure.

Physio and sports massage led me to the point last month where I felt I could get back in the water and enjoy the thrill of catching waves again.

I decided to use a controlled environment that suits all needs and I visited the wave garden in Bristol. A place that I absolutely love and will always visit. This day however, that turned out to be a very poor decision. I felt nervous paddling out and had no real power in my legs. I missed my first 3 waves, then on the fourth attempt missed again and while grabbing my board got run over by a surfer which cut the back of my head and ear. I got out with my tail well and truly between my legs, a bruised ego and my back was on fire.

On the walk back to the car I actually considered whether I was going to be able to surf properly again and I’m not afraid to admit, it made me cry. I’ve only ever felt euphoria after a session in the sea and this feeling was the exact opposite. ‘Please don’t take away my safe place’. I later talked it through with my partner Jane who helped give me a clearer more positive outlook on what had happened and suggested maybe it was a little early to be trying this. Rehab a bit more and then try it again but next time in the ocean. ‘Get yourself some saltwater therapy David’.

Well, I guess its like riding a bike. You just have to get back on. So today I had a day off work and headed back to the Dorset coast to try again. I sat on the shore line with the sand between my toes and felt that old excited feeling again. I watched and listened to the waves crashing in and felt the ocean calling to me.

With my trusty 5mm suit, fins and board I paddling out. Not with fear or trepidation but instead a feeling of power and positive energy. I felt the buzz of catching waves again and spent a glorious hour in the big blue. I got in full of froth and I got out full of stoke. And fantastically, I was in no pain. What a rush!

The key to this story is the sea. Everything about it energizes me as I’m sure it does many of you too. The car journey there had me buzzing and checking how many miles were left every 2 minutes or so. I simply could not get changed quick enough. The feeling of being back in the water was just so energizing. The many minerals we share with the ocean are not to be underestimated and it’s power is real.

My rehab will need to continue and it’s certainly a long road ahead, but the ocean is with me to nurture and protect my physical and mental health. Big blue is there for us all.

The ocean heals my friends.

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