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Should you stretch? : The Best Stretches for Surfers to Enhance Performance and Prevent Injuries

Surfing is a way of life for many of us. Gliding across the waves is exhilarating, but it demands more than just skill and balance. Surfing requires flexibility, strength, and agility to become one with the waves effectively while minimizing the risk of injuries. Incorporating a regular stretching routine tailored for surfing can significantly enhance performance, prevent muscle strains, and improve overall well-being. Here, we explore some of the best stretches that can benefit surfers of all levels.

Importance of Stretches for Surfers The Best Stretches for Surfers

Surfing demands a unique set of physical movements, including balance, core strength, and flexibility. Regular stretching can help surfers:

  1. Enhance Flexibility: Fluid movements on the board require a wide range of motion in various muscle groups, particularly the shoulders, hips, and lower back. For example, the paddle out will work your shoulders and arms. Having those muscle groups warm before you hit the water is crucial.

  2. Improve Balance and Stability: Stretching exercises that engage the core muscles contribute to better stability on the board, aiding in maintaining balance while riding waves. Yoga movements are perfect for balance and stability. Baby cobra, forward lunch, and down dog all work well to warm and stretch the body for surfing.

  3. Prevent Injuries: Surfing involves sudden movements and positions that can strain muscles. Stretching can reduce the risk of muscle pulls, tears, and other injuries. A steep drop in on your lead foot can really tweak your calf and hamstrings. Not to mention going over the falls. That can work your whole body with tons of force from the water. Best to be warm and loose rather than stiff and crunchy.

  4. Boost Recovery: Stretching after a surf session can aid in muscle recovery by reducing soreness and promoting blood flow to tired muscles. It's easy to wrap up a long sesh and forget to get oxygen to those places you just vigorously worked for the last hour or two. Make sure to stretch post-surf as well as pre-surf adventure.

Essential Stretches for Surfers

Cat-Cow Stretch: This yoga-inspired stretch targets the spine, improving flexibility and mobility. This one is our surf coach's favorite. Our low backs take a beating teaching and surfing most days.

Check out this video on a quick cat-cow tutorial if you need some instruction

Shoulder Stretch: Stretching the shoulders is pretty important for paddling through the surf and preventing strain. Cross one arm horizontally across the chest and use the opposite hand to press the elbow closer to the body gently. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.

Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel on one knee with the other foot in front, creating a 90-degree angle with the leg. Gently push your hips forward while keeping your back straight to feel a stretch in the front of the hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.

Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the ground with one leg extended and the other foot against the inner thigh. Lean forward from the hips, reaching toward the extended foot. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds before switching legs.

Trunk Rotations: Sit cross-legged and twist your torso gently to one side, placing the opposite hand on the knee for support. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and switch sides, stretching the back and sides.

Cobra Stretch: Lie face down with palms on the ground under your shoulders. Push your upper body up, keeping your hips on the ground, to stretch the abdominal muscles and open up the chest.

When to Stretch

Ideally, surfers should incorporate stretching into their daily routine, especially before and after surfing sessions. Pre-surf stretches should focus on dynamic movements to warm up the muscles, while post-surf stretches should be more static, holding positions to enhance flexibility and aid in muscle recovery.

Surfing demands a combination of physical strength, balance, and flexibility. Incorporating these stretches into your routine can significantly improve your surfing performance while reducing the risk of injuries. Remember, consistency is key. By making stretching a habit, surfers can enhance their overall experience in the water, riding the waves with more ease and confidence.

For more tips and tricks on surfing reach out to our expert surf coaches or sign up for an intro to surf lessons today!

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