Noah Cohen on the healing power of positivity

Photo by Miguel Rodriguez

Surfer rides 'positive mindset'

— By Kia Schollar

He was a sponsored surfer, travelling the world and “making the most of every wave” he caught.

Noah Cohen was living his dream.

The goal: “Take cool videos” to make into an awesome compilation.

But the almost too-good-to-be-true routine came to an abrupt halt when Cohen wiped out while filming in Iceland in the winter of 2015.

Ambitious recovery plan

His injuries included fully torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments, a partially torn lateral collateral ligament, a torn popliteus tendon and a fractured fibular head.

This was major.

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A determined Cohen made it his goal — and it was a lofty one — to rebound in the prescribed ACL recovery time.

Part of the challenge, as Cohen explains it, is the typical ACL recovery recommends individuals try to begin weight bearing activity as soon as possible.

He was “feather weight for six weeks,” meaning he wasn’t supposed to bear any weight on his leg.

But the ambitious target gave Cohen something to “shoot for” and forced him to focus on rehab and recovery rather than allowing himself to “sit on the couch.”

  Pro surfer Noah Cohen in action. The 28-year-old, who lives in Tofino, B.C., says self-awareness, discipline and positivity helped him rebound from a major knee injury. (KYLER VOS)

Pro surfer Noah Cohen in action. The 28-year-old, who lives in Tofino, B.C., says self-awareness, discipline and positivity helped him rebound from a major knee injury. (KYLER VOS)

Stepping up his game

Cohen maintained a positive mindset and began to view the injury as a “TSN turning point.”

While the injury was debilitating in the moment, it allowed him to truly appreciate the opportunity.

When the bandages were taken off, he says it hit him hard that he wouldn’t be able to surf for a long time. Cohen saw the recovery road ahead and “stepped up his game,” improving his diet, giving up alcohol and doing everything he could to continue his surfing career.

‘Sticking to the program’

How did Cohen stay on track?

He says he talked with several athletes who have experienced knee, or serious injuries, throughout their careers. The common advice, which he tried to bring to the forefront every day: “a positive mindset.”

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Cohen notes that he tried to be very self-aware and worked to ensure the negative did not creep in.

He says he truly believes “positivity will help things go well and makes healing faster.”  The other critical piece, “sticking to the program,” given to him by his rehabilitation specialists. Discipline was key to “making his body better” and it was well worth it.

Cohen is back on the surfboard and helping Canada contend for a spot to compete at the next Olympic Games.

He’s proof recovery is what you put into it and approaching your journey with a positive attitude can have amazing results.

As always, you are your greatest asset.

Noah Cohen is among eight surfers in the film The Seawolf. The film's official website describes the project as a two-year journey following eight surfers as they travel the 'the furthest corners of the globe in search of clips.'

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