Words and pics: Kirsty Mullahy
I would never have believed you, if three years ago someone told me I would be going paddle boarding. “No way” I would have protested “too boring and slow for me”, sounding like a prepubescent teenager.
I have loved my fast paced sports wake boarding, snowboarding, horse riding and anything else that would get the adrenaline pumping, until an injury. I know this seems inevitable to others, but not to me at this point in my life. I twisted my knee and ankle wake boarding and partially tore my ACL and MCL ligaments. I was gutted as at the time I was loving all of my sports, as well as making a living as a dance teacher. My world had come to a stop. Once home from the hospital my physiotherapist appointments arranged, I had to sit and rest, not an easy thing for a fidget like me.
On the one hand I was very glad that I had not snapped anything and tried to console myself with this fact. After three long boring months of inactivity I was informed that I could start paddle boarding. No Yoga, which surprised me, and especially no fast paced impacting disciplines. The physiotherapist explained that because of the balance needed to stay on the board it was perfect for helping me to rebuild the strength back in my knee. The gentle side to side action of the muscles trying to find balance is perfect for helping tendons, muscles and ligaments repair. Balance boards also are used for rehab as they create a slightly unstable platform to stand on but in the comfort of your own home as opposed to the sea.
I wasted no time and started to paddle in January, 2016. It was cold, but nothing was going to stop me from one; doing everything in my power to get my body back to its former strength and two; get out on the water.
I started with short paddles within the shelter of my local piers, slowly building my balance. It did not take long until I started to get fitter. Not only was it helping my knee to recover but also my core was getting stronger so helping my back. My posture was also getting better and all my muscles were toning up. Not only was it physical fitness but also mental. Being on the water makes me calm, and after such a long period of inactivity the frustration was making me angry snappy – paddling would give me time to reflect and relax helping me to deal with everyday life a lot better. The sea and SUP are a winning combination.
When summer came around I was so hooked that I started to teach paddle boarding on Brighton beach. My knee was as good as new now and I was spending at least three hours a day on the water. I was very lucky as the weather was glorious. I love to encourage all people to have a go, get out there and enjoy the ocean, get fit and for it not to feel like a chore as the gym has always felt to me. It is such a versatile sport and such a great way for people who have had injuries to enjoy there rehabilitation. I now travel and work all around the world and get to paddle in spectacular places, grateful that I have allowed the time for my body to heal properly. I can now enjoy all that I used to and I would say it is thanks to paddle boarding.