top of page

SKATEBOARDING

skater.png

There are a number of reasons why skateboarding would be great for your overall health... whether you're an experienced or a new skater, the practice can play a major role in helping you manage your mental health as well as your physical health. I will highlight skating's many mental health benefits and share some of my thoughts on the subject. Aside from its accessibility, skating has a meditative quality, offers a long-term practice opportunity, it challenges you both mentally + physically (you're constantly learning), allows for creative freedom, stimulates brain function called neuroplasticity, improves vestibular + proprioception senses, and that feeling of gliding on the board is like no other. Researchers have studied the correlation between skateboarding and mental health in recent years, one of them is a study by The Pullias Center for Higher Education at USC (February 2020) which found that skateboarding “improves mental health, fosters community, and encourages diversity and resilience.” In addition to contributing to the mindfulness concept, skateboarding improves executive brain functions for focus, planning, and self-control... encouraging skaters to develop their attention skills further.

 

The practice provides more mental health benefits such as helping to overcome your fears, a chance for creative problem-solving, teaches resilience + patience, puts you in a flow state, improves empathy, provides safety + inclusivity, and manages anxiety by keeping you present... skating is an amazing mindful activity.  In terms of connection, skateboarding has the ability to connect people who would otherwise have little to nothing in common. It’s this human connection that’s one of the most healing factors for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. People truly feel a sense of belonging through the skateboarding community in person and virtually.

 

As a person with C-PTSD healing from multiple traumas, skating became an essential practice in my mental health journey because of the benefits mentioned. Rolling around on my skateboard has been one of the most therapeutic things that I've ever done. I picked up skating with no expectations, just to learn something new and challenge myself and it has already given me so much more than that. I first noticed it within the first month of skating when I started to properly process my grief of losing my dad the year before. Previously, the grief put me in a state of reliving the erratic emotions surrounding the news of his death every day for over a year, a grief loop that felt hopeless... it was extremely painful but skating brought me out of that mode completely. Skating has shown me a way to heal from grief, to be more self-aware so that I can learn about my traumas and address them in my own time (through the different practices as seen on the MNSTR Method page), it taught me to be more present along with other life lessons. Since the beginning of these self-developments, I've been closely observing my practice and this self-study eventually led me to the creation of the MNSTR Skate Initiative. From my experience, skateboarding has been an effective healing tool and it can be used positively to manage our mental health when we have reached a certain level of self-awareness. 

Image by Szymon Ostrowski

While I was putting this project together, I watched a documentary called 'Push to Heal' and it's about a skateboarding program created by Hull Research Institute to help youth heal from their trauma by using the neurosequential model of therapeutic care (developed by Dr. Bruce Perry). Joel Pippus is counselor + skater that has been leading that program ever since New line Skateparks built the Matt Banister Memorial Skatepark on Hull's campus back in 2015. This documentary was shared with me by a skate friend (Thanks Maggie) and it has given me so much insight on why skateboarding has been healing for me, it's something worthwhile to check out if you haven't already.  Hit up the link for the article+ share, Push to HealSkate programs like this, as well as several other mental health-related skate initiatives has made an impact in this important mental health discussion such as John Rattray's 'WHY SO SAD?' campaign, The Ben Raemers Foundation, and 'Nothing but today' by John Gardner. Red Bull Skateboarding also did an episode dedicated to mental health for their 'PUSHING FORWARD' series. I have a feeling that there will be more initiatives with this focus popping up in the future, the therapeutic aspect of skating is so powerful.

One last thought, I've noticed similarities in the skateboarding practice with meditation, Stoic philosophy, and Buddhism... what they have in common is that it's mainly about being in the present moment while having an open awareness of your environment. Philosophers and sages throughout the ages have advised people to practice present-moment attention and awareness. And that can be done by consciously letting go of our mental fixation on the past and the future, sharing this Buddhist text that illustrates just that: "Do not pursue the past. Do not lose yourself in the future. The past no longer is. The future has not yet come. Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now, the practitioner dwells in stability & freedom." (Bhaddekaratta Sutta). Similar to the aforementioned practices, skating requires present-moment attention and awareness of the environment. I've been utilizing mindfulness meditation that has helped with better focus in my skating practice, I do that meditation every day and sometimes I do one in between a session like this 5-minute guided meditation below...

A  QUICK MINDFUL  PRACTICE  DURING  YOUR  SKATE  SESSION

A 5-minute guided meditation for mindfulness where it focuses on your breathing while having open awareness. You can use this meditation when you are taking a break during your session to recentre yourself whether you are frustrated from trick attempts or even if you're having a good session. It helps to do this mid-session (or whenever you like really), I know that it has helped me so far. Skating is a mindful practice in its own right,  this is just to give your brain a little rest during your session. For this practice, I retreat to a green space near my local and sit on the grass for this mentally restful moment.

That's my thoughts on skateboarding and the mental health connection, there is so much more information out there about this topic.. I've shared some content in the Articles+ page. I'm grateful for this practice as I'm able to focus on something that I love doing, which I never had a chance to do anything of that sort due to the oppressive environment in my home growing up. I'm glad that it's part of my life now tho, I'm invested and taking better care of my mental + physical health so that I can skate for the rest of my life. What about you? If you have any thoughts or questions about this page, feel free to  CONTACT me with the subject line: Skateboarding.

SOURCES:

Ruben Vee, Skateboarders HQ website<https://www.skateboardershq.com/why-skateboarding-is-good-for-mental-health>

LA Times <https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-26/skateboarding-improves-mental-health-helps-build-diverse-relationships-usc-study-says>

Divert Sessions Blog, June 3 2021 < https://www.divertsessions.com/blogs/news/exercise-and-mental-health-can-skateboarding-cure-depression>

Danny Kitchener, ADDitude website, August 31, 2020<https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-sports-skateboarding>

Free Movement Skateboarding, blog, April 16 2019 <https://www.freemovementskateboarding.com/2019/04/16/how-can-skateboarding-improve-brain-functioning-and-help-to-regulate-emotions>

Skateboarding for recovery, Healthy Life Recovery website 2023 <https://healthyliferecovery.com/staying-active-in-recovery/skateboarding>

Proprioception/Vestibular Senses & Why They Matter, Therapeutic Concepts Website, January 26, 2019<https://therapeuticconceptsllc.com/proprioception-vestibular-senses-and-why-they-matter>

bottom of page