Skateboarders Embrace Physical Therapy – The New York Times


An Olympic skateboarder, Zion Wright has been very serious about his training for the past three and a half years.

He is eating right. She does strength training, cardio, and physical therapy. It focuses on recovery after skating: foam rolling, stretching, rehabilitation. This is a worthy olympic athlete. But the fact that she’s so open about her routine marks a recent radical shift in skateboarding – an activity that previous generations refused to even call a sport.

Skateboarding training largely involves preparing the body for full-effect bumps that can result in long spells from skateboarding. The carnage from jumping a set of 10 steps often involves ankle sprains, fractures, and “hot pockets” where the toe gets stuck against the shinbone. There are also heel bruises, knee sprains and ligament tears; hip and groin problems; and sprains and fractures in the wrists and shoulders without falling.

All the 22-year-old Wright does is make sure he can get back to the board as quickly as possible.

“Skating is a difficult thing,” Wright said. “We glide on asphalt, not water. It will come with some wear and tear.”

Health-promoting messages feel inescapable these days, and even gradually come into contact with skateboarding—perhaps one of the last sports to embrace the ubiquitous practice of training, physical therapy, and diet. But the greater health zeitgeist—or any zeitgeist, really—would never find a proper way on skateboarding: nihilism and opposing grains have long been part of his DNA.

Brandon Turner, a 39-year-old former youth prodigy, said of the sport of skateboarding: “It was an insult to call it skateboarding because we didn’t want to be seen as an athlete or someone with any authority figure over us.” tradition. “The whole point of skateboarding was that the power came from within, and it was up to you and your abilities.”

Exercising was once elaborate, because doing what archetypal athletes do was understood as an inherent betrayal of the skateboarding lifestyle. And for years, wellness concepts were not aligned with the skateboarding industry’s glorification of alcohol and drug use.

Turner sobered up a few years ago and became a Pilates instructor and a mentor for addiction survivors. He is enjoying an impressive late career renaissance.

“You had to be almost stealthy about doing things,” said Corey Duffel, a 37-year-old professional skater with an extensive list of career injuries. When he was younger, he would carefully choose his hotel roommate on team outings—someone who knew Duffel secretly liked to stretch, do push-ups or sit-ups. He would sneak out to practice at the hotel gym while his teammates were out drinking.

But all this is slowly changing. The younger generation is earnestly embracing wellness, and leading legends in their 30s and 40s have embraced sober and healthy lifestyles to keep skating high.

“When I was growing up, skaters had a four to five year window where they could get away with not taking care of themselves, and they still skate at a really high level, but over time they deteriorate because of their bodies. or booze and cigarettes,” said physical therapist and sponsored skateboarder Dr. Kyle Brown.

For years the old regime was smoking and drinking during an injury on crutches while on the couch or partying outside. Now, Brown receives constant inquiries from professional skaters, many of whom are seeking physical therapy for the first time.

46 years old, Chico Brenes He became a sort of old statesman of the skateboarding style with his popular Instagram account. He quit drinking after his second knee surgery a few years ago and has taken up surfing, yoga, and now strength training. “I can still do the same tricks I could in my 20s, and that’s because I don’t take good care of myself and my body,” she said. “I wish I had done this much sooner.”

The younger generation is listening.

Jamie Foy, a past winner of Thrasher Magazine – skateboarding’s only award deserving of universal respect – began taking physical therapy seriously after many conversations with older skaters.

“They showed there was a better way to get things done, and if you really like skateboarding and want to do it for as long as possible, you should get all the stories from our elders and all the old skaters you’re looking for. “Foy, 25,” he said.

Still, it is far from a complete transformation. Despite skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo this summer and possibly going mainstream, hedonism remains popular.

“I go on roller skating rides and there’s no waking up early in the morning when everybody’s jumping,” said Ewan Bowman, Thrasher’s senior cameraman. “Common tumbling and drinking in the early morning before the engine starts working in the van.”

It’s still hard to imagine the local legend regularly hitting the gym or doing mission-conscious physical therapy exercises before hitting the skate park. And seeing someone who doesn’t match the look of an athlete deftly throw themselves into the abyss of a dangerous cityscape has always been part of the magic and appeal of skateboarding.

But Wright, who seems to be receiving an Olympic-sized award from wellness, said the trend is here to stay.

“If someone wants to keep smashing and has this opportunity to get stronger again, I think they’re going to go to the gym,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter to me whether he’s a skater or not. Getting hurt and knowing that there is actually a way to heal – why not? You only live once.”


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