Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ageing surfers weigh in on swaylocks...

I just turned 42 and am in my 30th year of surfing. I am not happy at all with where my surfing is. I am surfing as good as 20 years ago thanks to advances in the sport and equipment but the big problem is paddling. 30 years of wear and tear from surfing and my neck, back and now my right shoulder are all having problems. Will likely need rotator cuff surgery sometime soon. Getting out, duck-diving and paddling back out are all a problem. Surfing is a cake walk though. - mako224

I'm 62 and just glad I can still surf at all anymore.

Have neither the reflexes nor the athleticism I once did, but am otherwise in pretty decent shape and still having as much fun as ever. Still ride overhead waves when I get the chance.

Surfing is the one thread of continuity which has run through my entire life's history. Feel like a kid again whenever I go in the water: it's what keeps my batteries charged and keeps me from getting depressed about being on the (hopefully) long downslope toward the big dirt nap.

My two modes of existance are pretty much "surfing" and "waiting to surf some more" (though there are other things that I like to do "while I'm waiting"). Not exactly a philosophy that's likely to bring fame and fortune. None the less, I'm content.

...I've found that here in my sixth decade on the planet (fifth in the water), I need to cross-train religiously and eat right in order to stay fit and toned enough to surf at what I consider to be a "satisfactory" level. Regular bicycling, work-outs on my Total Gym® plus going easy on sweets, alcohol and fatty foods and getting enough sleep makes a world of difference. Old bodies aren't as forgiving of abuse and neglect as young ones so maintenance and up-keep become a more mandatory chore. The pay-off can be more energy and less pain per session.

If you have serious medical issues that interfere with your surfing, try to get them addressed with chiropracty, PT or surgery. I have orthotic lifts in my shoes and have had bones spurs ground out of one shoulder and an unguinal hernia repaired. A partially prolapsed L-5 has me looking for mechanical assistance (dolly, come-along, jack, ramps, hoist, etc.) any time something heavy needs lifting or moving. Maintaining good muscle tone and reasonable body weight also helps take the strain off a sketchy lower back.

Partly depends on how bad you want to keep surfing and whether you're willing to give up other things and put in extra work to make it happen. It's all about priorities.

The day will come when for each of us when we're simply be too old and broke down to paddle out anymore. Til then, just do all you can to push that day off into the future. - DropkneesSL

The magic numbers are three (inches thick) and twenty three (inches wide). I don't understand why but you will see those numbers over and over. Everything from a Mini Simmons to an 8' egg to a long board. Stay close to those numbers.....Get back on a long board....get back to surfing 3+ times a week. Surfing is the only thing that will improve your surfing.

I am not a fitness junkey. My wife has health issues. The best exercise for my wife is walking. It's good for me too. We walk 30-40 min, 3-4 times a week...easy...good for the heart...good for the soul. Keep moving....

am I happy with my surfing???....ha ha ....I'm happy to be able to surf...... - Stingray

I'm 56 and I guess I'd have to say I could be happier where my surfing is, but am still glad I can participate in it. I recently started to have issues concerning my abilities that previously were second nature to me.

In the last year or so, stiffness and pain with my lower back have made popping up to my feet properly quite difficult. I've ended up having very awkward take offs, missing waves and difficulty crouching. I started to do stretches and took a yoga class to help loosen up and strengthen my core and back. So far it's been a slow progression toward getting back to feeling a 100%, but I'll keep trying to get back there.

One bright spot in all the recent darkness was riding a longboard I made some 12 yrs. ago that I had relegated to my mothball fleet. At one point in time it was my main ride, but was set aside as I made other boards. Anyway I pulled it off the rack, dusted it off and for some reason that I still can't explain, slapped on one of Cheyne Horan's Star fins that I had laying around for years and still had'nt tried.

Up until I caught the first wave using that fin, I was doubting its merits. The first wave nullified any of my doubts as the board turned just as good, as with any other fin I have used on it. That was 4 or 5 sessions ago and I have yet to take it off. I really can't say its light years better or worse than any other fin I've used on that board, but my keeping it on is a statement in itself. It does make the board feel like it noserides better though, in the sense that the board does'nt feel like it's gonna pearl as much when the wave starts to flatten out.

My advice ...try not to get caught up in what other people are riding. You probably know what works for you more than anybody. Stay stoked! - foamdust

I am fortunate enough to have built my life around surfing. Self employed and living at the beach.

I'll be 54 next month and have been surfing since I was 7. I rode all the surf toys (except kites and hydrofoils) at one time or another.

Service related neck problems forced me to give up overarm paddling about 10 years ago and I've been strictly Kipapa (prone) ever since. This has not diminished my stoke at all. I surf as often as the conditions and my wracked up ol' body will allow. Typically 4 days out of 7. I'd like to have my 17 year old body back but that ain't gonna happen so I stretch every day, surf as often as I can, walk and bike a lot and swim when the surf is way down..

First and Foremost,

Surfing is all about having FUN. - unclegrumpy


  1. Thank you, We enjoyed the post. Aloha, Cher

  2. 61 yo & been surfing since 1965 with hiatus after serving in Vietnam & travelling the world attempting to re-adapt. Physically (shoulders, hips , lower back problems) I am limited in type of board & surf can now paddle out into. Have just taken an enforced layoff & back into it last week. First day was "murder" but felt so relaxed & tranquil after the surf that realize to enable myself to continue will have to get out as regularly as possible. Live in spot that gets crowded (200 plus shortboarders when the swell is 3' upwards) But there are enough small days to take out the 11 footer or 10'6' balsa Mike Minchinton shaped for me to "cruise". Off to Punta Mita with my son for a month in December. Big trip from Australia (22 plus hours) but can't wait.