The Science Behind Stoke

by Sarah Webb April 23, 2014

Science of Stoke

We all know and love that feeling when you drop into a beautiful barrel and ride it out to the end.  It's called being stoked, and handboarders, bodysurfers, surfers and bodyboarders just can't get enough of it.  Believe it or not, there's a scientific reason behind the stoke, and it's microscopic.

Typically while surfers are out shredding, they experience a number of different chemicals at once, including Adrenaline and Dopamine.  "Adrenaline raises your heart rate and increases your reaction time (the fight or flight reflex), while Dopamine is a chemical neurotransmitter triggered in your body when you are doing something you like," Assistant Editor of CoastalWatch Bridget Reedman wrote in an article on The Inertia.

Typically, the Adrenaline and Dopamine wears off after the ride is over, but why then do you still feel so great on the car ride home?  That long lasting stoke may actually be due to sea spray.  According to Reedman, this cocktail of chemicals is what's causing the surfers' stoke.  These chemicals are being triggered by charged atmospheric ions that are present around churning water.

"The turbulence created by breaking waves alters the physical structure of the air and water, breaking apart water and air molecules and releasing charged ions into the atmosphere," Reedman wrote.  These negatively charged ions make riders release endorphins and serotonin, while also increasing blood and oxygen circulation.  This brings on the stoke and puts riders in a positive mood.

The next time you get out in the waves for a session, you can rest easy knowing that those little ion bros will be helping you get stoked!

Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb

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