You know the feeling in your legs when you’re totally wrong in the landing from a high jump. Even tough you slide the board away from you and take part of the landing with your ass you feel that these kind of landings probably aren’t too good for knees, ankles and muscles. Still nothing happens and you continue surf wondering how bad a landing must be to really wreck something in your body. I’m soon about to tell you what it takes and I’m sharing my story with you so that you don’t do the same mistake as me and so that you understand the importance of training your body to withstand the force when the wind is howling.
Until recently I was one of those lucky guys who never got injured from kitesurfing, not once in a seven years long kitesurfing career. Two months ago I was practising darkslides. I was at a level where I succeeded with my darkslides in one attempt out of three. The wind was strong the day I injured myself. Around 20 knots and I was well powered with a 10.5m RRD Obsession. To practise darkslides (or any other new trick for that matter) in this wind was probably my first mistake. Anyway, if you’re familiar with the darkslide you know that in order to get out of the slide you must loop the kite at a perfect timing to get a smooth lift and a soft landing. My second mistake this day was that I looped the kite right in the power zone and as a result I was janked horizontally with my legs straight back behind me. Almost like a railey, but with much more power. The third mistake this day was the fact that I was wearing thin boots with good grip. Exactly the same boots as these: .
These boots are good, but don’t tight your straps to much, because it will become hard to kick of your board in an emergency situation!
During my loop and horizontal flight something bad happens. My right foot is sliding out of its strap. Still flying I am desperately trying to kick of my board, but it´s stuck to its left foot. There is a fraction of a second where I have to make a decision. Land on my chest/face with the board behind me, with the risk for the board to get stuck in the water and twist my knee and/or ankle. Something which also could turn out very bad considering that I was aiming for a HARD impact. The second option was to quickly pull the board infront of me and take the landing with one foot. I went for the later option. I can tell you that the impact was just as hard as one of those bad landings when you sacrifice your ass to save your knees.
WHAAAM! The landing was like being hit in your face by a straight right from Mike Tyson. As a matter of fact the landing was so hard that my left upper leg went totally paralysed. There was no sound from a cracked bone or a snapped muscle, but the leg just got totally shut down, like it had been electrified. Fortunately I was close to the beack as this happened and I could drift to the beach and land the kite. Once free from the kite I started to investigate my leg. No visible damage, but there was no doubt that the leg had suffered from a severe stretch. To stand up on my feet was out of the question. As it turned out walking was out of the question for more than a week. The first three days I was just lying in my bed. Barely eating and drinking cause it was so painful to jump to the toilet. It felt like my hamstring was being held together by one single muscle fibre. But eventually I was able to slowly start walk again without crutches. This was on day 9 and of course with baby steps.
Today, exactly two months later my leg is still not kiteable. I´ve been to physio therapist three times already and there is a chance that I will do a MR if the medical care agrees. I´m training my leg as good as I can. I follow the the physio therapist program to every point and havn’t missed one single training day. I simply must get back my strength and I´ll do whatever it takes to get back on the water, hopefully stronger than ever. 3-4 months of rehab is the verdict by the physio therapists I´ve talked with.
To fuck up sometimes when kitesurfing is normal. Occasionally it happens to all of us. But what I learned from this injury is that out bodies has limits and if you want to push them make sure that you´re preparred for it. I´ve been training in the gym for 20 years but I can admit that legs havn’t always been first priority. Don’t neglect the fact that you can hurt yourself while kitesurfing. Train hard and stretch to become flexible. Warm up before those insane session, those are my two cents!