When a swell hits, your first instinct is to drop everything and get in the water. It might be enticing to suit up and immediately paddle out into the lineup, but doing so could result in tight muscles and potential injury.
It's important to spend a few minutes doing some preventive stretching to keep your body strong and healthy. The following simple stretches will help keep you limber and potentially even improve your surfing. Don't worry, the waves aren't going anywhere.
90/90 Hip Stretch
Essentially, every maneuver in surfing is dependent on good hip mobility. If you keep your hips loose and flexible, it will allow you to pop up more quickly and get your legs positioned more easily for turns and cutbacks. Every surfer should incorporate the 90/90 hip stretch into his or her routine.
To execute, sit on the ground and place your right leg out in front of you bent at a 90-degree angle, with your shin parallel to your forward-facing hips (if you’ve taken a yoga class, think Half Pigeon pose). Now, position your left leg behind you, also bent at the same angle. Slowly lower your chest toward your front leg until you feel a deep stretch, and hold for 20 to 60 seconds. Reverse legs and repeat.
A surfer's shoulders are definitely put through the ringer when it comes to paddling in and out through waves. The muscles in the front of the shoulder are constantly being pulled forward while paddling, so it's important to activate this area before paddling out.
Arm circles are a simple yet effective stretch for loosening up shoulder muscles. Stand with your legs hip-width apart and stretch your arms out straight at shoulder height. Start by doing five small circles and then five larger ones. Reverse direction and repeat.
You may not give your ankles much thought while surfing, but keeping the ankle joint and muscle strong and flexible is essential for a good session. Inadequate stretching of the ankles could put added pressure on your knees, which could result in an injury.
Ankle rolls are a quick and simple stretch to keep your lower region strong and flexible. Stand on a level surface and place one foot a few inches in front of you for balance. Lifting your back foot off the ground, point your toe down and gently rotate your ankle 10 times clockwise and then 10 times counterclockwise. Switch legs and repeat.
The Torso Twist
It's crucial to keep your spinal mobility up to snuff so you're able to execute hard, torquing turns with ease. The torso twist works to loosen up the lower back as well as get the blood flowing throughout the mid-section and spine.
Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your arms extended with palms facing up. Slowly drop your knees to the left while rotating your head to the right. Continue until your knees reach the ground and then return to the original position with knees bent. Repeat 10 to 15 times on both sides.
Lunge With Rotation
If you find yourself short on time, this stretch is a game changer. Adding a trunk rotation to a forward lunge will work to stretch your hip flexors, activate your core and strengthen the muscles in your ankles.
Begin with you feet shoulder-width apart and take a large step forward. Slowly lower your body into a lunge until your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knee stays directly over your ankle. Remain in the lunge position and gently rotate your torso toward the forward leg. Hold for a moment and then return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise ten times on each side.
All photos by Rebecca Parsons.
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