You have to get your body moving. Most surfers spend most of their time behind desks, in front of computers, or in front of the TV. Sedentary bodies don’t cooperate with surfing. So before you head out for a wave, spend two minutes doing some beneficial warmup drills to loosen tight tissue, get joints moving, bring up the heart rate and not be that overweight dude just doing an arm swing or two. Give this a go before your training as well, no matter the sport. It’s a darn good warmup.
While there could be any number of drills that work for a good warm-up, there’s a few specifics you’re looking to accomplish with mobility drills. We want to loosen up commonly restricted joints or tissues, increase blood flow, excite the nervous system, activate stabilizer muscles, and prepare your body for a surf. We all know that the initial paddle out can be totally evil at times, so spend a few minutes getting your body primed to move – shoulders, thoracic spine, core, hips, calves. All of it. That’s what we want to “prime,” and get the body prepared for the dynamics of surfing (balance, power, endurance, flexibility, strength). Again, a few arm swings aren’t going to cut it. I do like arm swings, but it needs to be more extensive.
Spiderman Stretch with Rotations
This works on overall mobility of the hips and spine. Get loose!
Most people are familiar with this, and the picture below is actually from what I call an inch worm, which includes more movement, but yoga’s downward dog is a good one. I like it more for the upper body shoulder-girdle activation than for the hamstring flexibility. When you do these, really focus on pressing through the base of the palms of the hands and try to elongate all the way from ribs to hands. You can do a pushup in between each rep. Think of this as warming up your upper body for duck dives.
This works on hip flexibility, single leg balance activation and upper body flexibility. Work on getting the shoulders vertical. Also rotate to both sides, then lunge back up to the “feet together” position. Then repeat on the other side. You can also work on side bends – elevate the arms then lean the upper body to one side to stretch the lateral line/obliques.
Bang out about six repetitions of each of those movements. I generally do them in the order that I’ve listed them above. Then you can do your arm swings. Seriously, do some arm swings. A bit of extra effort in loosening up the shoulder girdle and getting more movement into the upper body is a good thing before paddling out. Here’s a post and video I did a while back going one a few of these and some extras.
If you have specific pain issues or limitations, then you may want to add or take away from these three drills. If you want a bit more insight into full mobility drill circuits, and easy do-it-yourself soft tissue work that will help to increase your overall flexibility and joint durability, check out my Surf Training Success Program and Surfstrengthcoach.com