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If a Shark Bit Off Your Arm, Would You See Your Life as a Blessing?

The movie SoulSurfer tells the story of Bethany Hamilton, a teenage Hawaiian girl whose left arm was bitten off by a tiger shark. It is an inspirational story -- Bethany returned to surfing and eventually won a world championship.

Although traumatic events are painful and difficult, going through such an experience may induce psychological maturity and a new appreciation of life. Research has shown that people report psychological growth and positive changes following even highly stressful events.

According to Psychology Today:

"Research on posttraumatic growth has also shown that the experience of trauma may lead people into new activities, lifestyles, and/or relationships that make life more meaningful or satisfying … People also report a greater appreciation of the life they have, following trauma."

To get back into the surfing circuit, Hamilton maintains a vigorous fitness routine aimed at building strength and balance. Along with jogging and, of course, surfing, her fitness routine includes the Egoscue Method, a therapy technique that strengthens specific muscles to help realign your body, and the TRX Suspension Trainer, which pits body weight against gravity for a full-body workout.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Bethany Hamilton is an incredible inspiration and a role model for anyone who is facing physical or emotional challenges.

After being attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark in 2003 and losing her left arm (and more than 60 percent of her blood) as a result, she has gone on to not only surf again but to surf professionally, even placing second at the Association of Surfing Professionals' 2009 World Junior Championships.

This is a shining example of what psychologists call posttraumatic growth, which occurs when you're able to turn a traumatic event into a new lease on life. In Bethany's case, rather than letting the shark attack define her life, she was able to gather her personal strength and courage and gain a new appreciation for life.

"SoulSurfer" Leads a Healthy Lifestyle

Much of Bethany's happiness and success is undoubtedly due to her own strength and optimism and a strong family, friend and spiritual support system. However, her lust for life is also likely influenced by her incredibly healthy lifestyle.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the "soul surfer" follows an "almost all organic diet" and prides herself on eating lots of vegetables. WSJ reports:

"She tries to fuel herself with healthy food every three to four hours. One of her favorite snacks is homemade kale chips."

Bethany also follows a comprehensive fitness routine that includes lots of surfing, jogging, hiking and postural therapy exercises, which she performs nearly every day. One of her primary techniques is the Egoscue Method, which is a series of stretches and special exercises tailored to each person's specific needs. Egoscue helps to restore muscular balance and skeletal alignment and is often used as a natural method of pain relief.

Though I have not yet seen the film, SoulSurfer looks like it may be the "feel-good" movie of the year, and even better, Bethany's story will no doubt serve as a lasting source of inspiration for countless people facing similar physical challenges.

A Powerful Way to Correct Your Posture and Improve Your Health

It appears that Egoscue has benefited her greatly. I have personally been using it for nearly a year with amazing results on my chronic low back pain, which is now gone. The most powerful exercise involves something they call  "the Tower" and is also described in Tim Ferriss' new book The Four-Hour Body. One simply passively relaxes on the floor at night allowing your pelvis and thoracic spine to relax. Here is a video demonstration of it.