The Physical Science of Going Deep

Matt George

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Updated 989d ago

Without balance, there is no surfing. It starts with that magical moment when you release your fingertips from your board and drop into a wave standing up in perfect balance. But there is a lot more going on here than you might imagine.

Researchers have recently been studying the science of standing up and are discovering remarkable complexities. And with the advent of super micro photography, the actual physical elements that allow us to balance can now be seen and analysed on a intra-cellular level. Our bodies, like most things in the universe, submit to the laws of physics.

Balance is king, sounds simple, right? But what of the inner working machinations afford us good balance? Marlon Gerber's letting us in on a little secret here.

Balance is king, sounds simple, right? But what of the inner working machinations afford us good balance? Marlon Gerber's letting us in on a little secret here.

© 2019 - Pete Frieden

Balance, given such complicated names by scientists as postural orientation or postural equilibrium, is controlled by structures in the inner ear, our eyesight, and our automatic postural adjustments brought about by sensory reflexes.

This is why it's particularly important in the tube to keep your eyes level with the land’s horizon. Take a look at the photos of your favourite surfers and you will see how true this is. Lousy tuberiders get confused and forget that surfing is a gravity sport that demands a level horizon whether we are on top of water or not.

Which is why we see bad surfing. If any one of a surfer’s functions is impaired, either through trauma or just plain bad technique, the other functions struggle to compensate resulting in awkwardness. All you have to do is surf switchfoot to feel that sensation.

So it may sound simple, but research has shown us that muscles want to maintain proper posture based on gravitational pull and balance is thereby generated by automatic responses that preserve the vertical orientation of our body mass, mostly found in our trunk.

In other words, the best tuberiding advice in the world is bend at the knees not at the waist and keep your eyes and muscles oriented to the gravitational sense of earth.

It has recently been discovered that surfers have extremely well developed balance that is on par with the world’s best Ballet dancers. Inner ear, eyesight, and muscular reflexes. Balance. The secrets to discovering what kind of surfers we want to be.