Surfing: The 'miraculous' treatment no doctor has ever prescribed. Until now. -
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Surfing: The ‘miraculous’ treatment no doctor has ever prescribed. Until now.

Surfing: The ‘miraculous’ treatment no doctor has ever prescribed. Until now.

The “Queen of the Basque Coast” is a rich with history and the home of sunbathed sandy beaches. If you’re one who enjoys (or would like to try) surfing, Biarritz is the place for you. Biarritz is a small city on the southwest coast of France, flanked by the Bay of Biscay.

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Image Source: NormanEinstein/Wikimedia Commons

For centuries, Biarritz has been a destination for believers in the healing power of its seawater.

They call it thalassothérapie. It’s a derivative of the Greek words for sea (thálassa) and therapy (therapeía), and people flock to Biarritz’s beaches, spas, and treatment centers for a sprinkle of that sweet ocean magic.

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Image Source:  Iroz Gaizka/AFP/Getty Images

But in the 1960s, a new benefit of Biarritz’s waters was discovered: surfing. With a swell just right for almost any skill level, Biarritz has become one of the top surf destinations in Europe.

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Image Source:  Kevin Cole/Flickr

Biarritz doctors are piloting a program that lets them prescribe water sports for chronic health issues.
Yes, with a script reading “catch some waves” from one of roughly 20 participating physicians, patients are taking four-month lessons in surfing, paddleboarding, swimming, and other lower-intensity ocean aerobics.

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Image Source: Karma Surf Retreat/Flickr

“After six months, the results are already positive in our eyes,” says Nicolas Guillet, one of the program’s organizers.

Also, Guillaume Barucq, a physician involved in the program, says the sun helps our bodies make vitamin D, which protects against cancer, diabetes, and lots of other health problems. But always remember to wear sunscreen!

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Image Source: Dawn Ellner/Flickr

Barucq, an avid surfer, calls the program “miraculous.” He says ocean sports can improve blood flow, build core and extremity strength, and relieve pain.

One patient described her treatment as “revolutionary.” She’s a 40-year-old woman who presented with a decade of chronic back pain. And after only six months of stand-up paddleboard lessons, she was all but cured of her pain.

While the research on negative ions isn’t settled, it does weigh on the side of, well, the positive. A 2013 study found that negative air ion treatments significantly reduced the severity of mood disorder symptoms and boosted the moods of healthy subjects.

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Image Source: Charles Williams/Flickr

“It’s also about enacting cultural change in a country where 90% of patients who come out of the doctor’s surgery do so with a medical prescription,” said Barucq.

Even better? The program doesn’t cost the French social security system a penny … or centime, anyway.
It’s fully funded by the town of Biarritz, with support from a few health associations and a mere 10 euros (just under $11) per patient — a pill most health consumers can swallow.

What do you think of this program? We’re pretty sure surfing can do a lot of things for people just like you! Share this post to your friends on Facebook!