A few years ago, I was diagnosed with the impressive-sounding Degenerative Disc Disease. As a result, my back surgeon—a good guy—told me I was looking down the barrel of inter-vertebrate cushioning implants for my lower discs. This would be my third operation in 12 years, and perhaps the most invasive, as it involved soft-tissue surgery as opposed the key-hole method.
Given the prolonged recovery from my previous operations, which saw me borderline addicted to painkillers and still with residual back pain, this most recent prognosis was the tipping point. Despite the extent of surgery, technically there was no guarantee that I’d ever surf again, or at least to the same level.
So, I took matters into my own hands, and I set about trying to find a solution that would allow me to at least postpone the operation, keep me surfing, and enable me to enjoy, in as far as I could, a fully active life with my then-still-young family. My problems were, however, compounded by the physical act of surfing. More precisely, arching my back as all surfers do while paddling was impacting the underlying disc condition. The more I surfed, the more pain I was in, and despite trying to remain fit in other ways—for example, through swimming and walking—surfing began to become more arduous and less frequent.