The U.S. Navy is spending $1 million on a three-year study that’s aimed to find out whether or not surfing can counteract Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Surfing has long been celebrated as a way to soothe the mind and invigorate the body. But scientific evidence has been limited. Zag covered the concept of negative ions in an article titled: ‘The positive effects of negative ions’ in issue 41.4, where it discussed how interacting with the natural world around us holds healing properties. Scroll down to view the article.
Researchers say surfing offers great promise as therapy. It is a challenging exercise in an outdoor environment; people surf individually or in groups; military surfers who are reluctant to attend traditional group therapy open up about their common experiences when talking to other surfers on the beach.
“Lots of times it becomes therapy under the guise of recreation,” said Helen Metzger, head of the health and wellness department at Naval Medical Center San Diego. “They talk about surfing and then it gets into things that are deeper than that, common experiences, common traumas.”
“It’s peaceful, but it’s also an adrenaline rush,” said retired Lt. Gen. John Toolan, who led combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Surfing is great therapy for young guys and for old guys like me, too.”
Disabled Navy vet and avid surfer, Bill McCrossin, told First Coast News he is excited about the study. “I love waking up before the sun and loading up the car trying to throw this 9-foot board into the car and then going to the beach,” McCrossin said. “I started finding that therapeutic.”
While the Navy announced it’s investing money to study whether or not surfing can make an impact on those with PTSD like McCrossin, the Wounded Warrior Project hosts local surfing clinics for veterans.