“The bottom of the wave dropped out over a shallow ledge. I got compressed by the lip into my board and my knee just popped and gave way.”
Alan Stokes 2X UK Pro Surf Champion talks of his horrible knee injury that threatened his hobby, career and mental health.
What’s your favourite wave at home and why?
AS: My favourite wave at home is a secret! I also really like surfing at a Fistral. Its where I grew up surfing, and its still the bench mark spot for progressive surfing in the UK.
What’s your favourite wave abroad and why?
AS: My favourite wave abroad would have to be Snapper because it has all the sections, but its mental busy, more like slalom surfing.
Tell us about your Trip that you had your injury on?
AS: I injured my knee on a film trip up north for the StRaNGeBeautiful LIFE series, surfing with mates Tom Butler and Lyndon Wake.
What happened when you had your knee injury?
AS: Basically I got too cold. The sets were really inconsistent and I was thinking ‘im just going in on the next wave to run around on the reef and warm up’. Unfortunately the next wave i hurt my knee.
I tried to pull into the inside tube section backside without grabbing my rail. The bottom of the wave dropped out over a shallow ledge and i got compressed by the lip into my board. My knee just popped and gave way.
Did you know it was a serious injury?
AS: While I was still under water from the wipeout I knew what I’d done. I wasn’t even swimming back to the surface. I was just really gutted because I knew it would be along time before I could surf again.
Did you know how to treat the injury? What did you do?
AS: The first thing I did was get my weight off it and get it into the air with some ice to prevent further swelling. I called my phyiso guy and he basically diagnosed it over the phone. He’s really good and he just laid it all out, what I needed to do there and then, how long it would take etc. By the time I got to see him a few days later I had already started the healing process.
What did your recovery involve?
AS: I stayed home for four months and rehabilitated the knee just using equipment I have at home, and then visits to my physio to see how it was getting on.
I’ve had a few injuries, mainly ligament or tendon, and I’ve learnt that time is the biggest healer. It takes months, and you have to make sure you keep flexibility in the joint.
Did you get depressed after your injury?
AS: I started off really positive. I just took the time to rest and do some things that I didn’t have the time to do. After a few months however I did go through quite a bad depressive period. I’m a super active and motivated person, so it got tough, but my lovely girlfriend Celine and friends sensed something was up and they all really helped me. That was special, and it gave me energy to get better, so a big thank you to them.
How is your knee now? Do you approach things differently?
AS: My knee feels really good now. My surfing is back to normal and I feel like im progressing again. I’m still trying to fight the demons in my head and not think about it altogether, but that takes time so im just trying to let that go, and not process it to much.
What advice would you give someone that has an injury that is going to keep them out of the water for months?
AS: My advice is if you suffer an injury that will keep you out of the surf, would be firstly be to think if you cant surf, can you body surf or body board? I’ve hurt my ankle before, but I could body surf for four months, so when I got back out there on my board I was fitter than ever.
Also you have to keep positive, I know it sounds stupid, but a positive mental state will increase the healing process, it’s all energy connected.
What are your plans for the future?
AS: To keep surfing bigger and better, compete and continue the StRaNGe Beautiful LIFE project.
Danni or Kylie?
AS: Neither. My girl Celine is the hottest thing this side of mars.
Have a ganders at his website for more media on what Alan’s been up to.
The images for this interview are taken from Stoksies’ stunning film series StRaNGe Beautiful LIFE project. In Episode 5 he talkss of his injury and shows a pretty good account of his recovery back to full fitness!
Click here to go to StRaNGe Beautiful LIFE’s facebook page to see what they’ve been up to.