Owen Wright's Journey To Using Infrared Saunas For Recovery

Why Owen Wright Chooses Clearlight Infrared® Saunas

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Owen Wright is one of the most powerful and stylish surfers in Australia, taking out four championship events over his career, and bringing a bronze medal home from the latest Tokyo Games. 

He’s also a firm believer in the health benefits and fast recovery times that infrared saunas can help facilitate, so much so, that he’s actually installed a Clearlight Infrared® Sauna on his back deck at home.

We shared a sauna with Owen during an interview on our podcast, The Sauna Show to ask him all things surfing, his previous injury, his remarkable journey back to the top, and about his mission to bring awareness to the surfing world about brain trauma. If you would like to hear these topics you can watch the full episode here or listen to the full episode below.

Surfing is an incredibly high-impact sport that puts the human body under immense strength, while requiring short bursts of energy for explosive manoeuvres. 

As a result, Owen has refined his fitness and healing program with techniques that emphasise flexibility, core strength and fast recovery times to prepare for his next competition. One of the key tools at Owen’s disposal is his Clearlight Infrared® Sauna, which he says has helped him not only heal faster, but helps him relax and get some all-important rest, relaxation and a quality night’s sleep while he’s at home.

I come home from surfing long hours, or training hard, and I hop into my Clearlight Infrared® Sauna for recovery and feel instantly better,” he says. “I have a great night’s sleep and I haven’t been sick for a while, so I feel like there’s a bit of all-round wellbeing.

In terms of recovering his body between sessions, Owen says that “aches and pains seem to go away quicker, and it seems to be one of the best things I’ve done in the area of recovery for my career, so I’m absolutely loving it.


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The Road To Recovery From A World Title To Major Brain Concussion And Back Again

Sebastian recently sat with Owen Wright, currently ranked seventh in the world for surfing, in our sauna, of course, to talk all things health, recovery and surfing, and to share some of his epic journey with us.

We're honored that Owen had the time to come and hang out in the sauna with us and share his story in the hopes that it sheds some light on this real issue for surfers everywhere.  

Owen began surfing almost as soon as he could walk, and was surf competitively since the age of 10, with 6 or 7 competitions a year. Owen won an Australian Title at the age of 17, and earned himself Rookie of the Year on his debut of the CT at the age of  20. The biggest accomplishment for Owen ~ and "hardest slog" ~  was qualifying for the top bracket at 19, "once you get to the world tour, you're up against you know, Kelly Slater who had been on tour your whole entire life growing up." But that was the passion and the dream for a young Owen, with sponsorship from leading brands like Rip Curl, he was competing against the best and loving it.  

Then in December 2015, everything changed.

Owen was in Hawaii competing for a world title, ranked 5th at the time. Free surfing the day before his heat, Owen took a wipeout that changed the course of his life.  He'd already had a series of concussions leading up to the event, but nothing nearly as bad, this wipeout caused a brain injury that took Owen out of the competition.  There's been a significant amount of research that's come out of that incident and Owen discovered that when you've suffered a series of concussions, it can lead to a major concussion, which in turn can cause a brain injury. Which is exactly what happened that day in December.

The world may think that this is a rare occurrence, but Owen says that concussion is a part of the job and that you can't stop minor ones from happening.

Owen stresses that these stories within the sport have to be picked up and recognised because no one's talking about it - we're out in the ocean, where people cant watch us, disappearing between waves and out of sight. This kind of thing (concussions) have been happening for a long time. For Owen, it happened in front of everyone... he was going for a world title. It was big news and now he feels okay talking about it and bringing awareness to the issues to help other people going through the same thing.

During his early concussions, Owen shares stories of not having the memory of the actual incidents. He would get rushed to the hospital and stay for 3 weeks until he was stable. He would have a selection of side effects on any particular day which would include, the inability to walk, slow speech, memory loss, anxiety, fight or flight triggers, an influx of adrenaline, headaches, fogginess and post-traumatic amnesia where he would often think ‘where am I? or what am I doing here?'.  The brain was in so much trauma that its natural response was to forget, a protective mechanism that Owen learned to work with and appreciate.

Owens health and brain injuries really woke people up in the surfing industry. There was awareness around concussion in other sports, but not nearly enough in the world of surfing.

Since the incident, many surfers have confided in Owen that it almost gives them peace of mind, because they have had similar concerns and issues.

Owens recovery included a variety of methods and the support of naturopaths, neurologists, psychologists. He found useful therapy in DNS exercises, which stands for Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization, to help the brain remember simple movement which would often to spark intrinsic muscle memory, things like crawling, stabilising your body on your belly and the neuro-pathways you are born with and learn as a baby. Simple things such as a breakfast routine each day would help improve neuro skills.

At the start of 2019, Owen questioned whether he was going to get back to where he was before but decided to push through. Once he saw that he was making recovery in simple tasks, he began to surf again. Owen had to make the jump and train his mind and body to go from a "learn to surf" to "professional athlete" which took him until August 2019. "Now that I think I'm recovered, I'm always taking precautionary measures - reducing my natural impulses and leaning on pragmatism, even when I'm surfing, to make sure I get the right waves."

One factor Owen swears by that has helped him has been to maintain a relaxed state of mind. A key consideration for him is to remember that once you've had a concussion you need to take care of yourself; make sure you aren't putting your body and brain under the same amount of pressure you would normally do.

So what's on the cards for Owen in 2020? He is optimistic about surfing and doing all he can for complete recovery  "I sit back and do feel quite proud of what I've come through, that's a nice feeling, the sense of coming a long way, it's a good feeling to have".

Check out the podcast here to hear more from Wright and Sebastian's chat. 

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