It happens to everyone: you roll up to the beach, the waves are firing and all you can think is, “I gotta get out there right now, who’s got time to stretch?” Although the tendency to skip your beach warm up is totally relatable, Huntington Beach surf fitness coach Holly Knearem has a few reasons why you should make time to warm up before you paddle out as well as some low key exercises you can do that hopefully won’t land you on Kook of the Day.
To get your body ready to move, Holly suggests to start by creating heat in your muscles. Heat will allow more blood flow and oxygen to reach your muscles, ultimately enhancing your performance.
Start your warm up with these three exercises that incorporate all of the areas of the body that surfers use the most:
10 Bodyweight Squats
When doing bodyweight squats, make sure you’re sitting back into the squat, getting your hips down as low as you can while making sure your knees aren’t pushing out past your ankles. Drive through the heels on the way back up to create heat in the glutes and lower body.
Push-ups are a great way to warm up the shoulders. To do a proper push-up, start in a prone position with the shoulders stacked over the wrists and your elbows in tight. Lower all the way down until your chest touches the ground and then drive back up, keeping your core tight to prevent your hips from sagging and to protect your lower back.
30-Second Plank Hold
Immediately after your last push-up, hold the plank position at the top for at least 30 seconds. Again, make sure to keep your core tight and your hips in line, creating heat through your core.
Loosen Up the Spine
Now that you have some heat moving through those muscles, Holly recommends shifting your focus to the spine. “Not only does the spine hold the body upright and together,” says Knearem, “it houses the central nervous system, which has the responsibility of sending messages effectively from the brain to the body. Gently twisting and flexing the vertebrae will lubricate them and wake up the central nervous system so those messages will be received clearly.”
To begin waking up the central nervous system, start with three rounds of a cat/cow. You can do this either on the ground with your hips stacked over your ankles and your shoulders stacked under your wrists, or you can do this by lowering into a half squat in the standing position with your hands on your thighs. On an inhale, tilt the tailbone up, roll the shoulders back and look up at the sky. On an exhale, tuck the tailbone under and round out through the shoulders. Complete two more rounds following the breath, giving your spine some healthy flexion.
For surfers, it’s all about balance, so a standing twist is a great way to start preparing your body. Starting first on your right side, shift your weight onto your right leg, grounding down through the right foot. Bend and bring your left knee up to about hip height, concentrating on keeping the core engaged. Grab the outside of the left knee and bring the left arm out in line with your shoulder. Gently pull the knee across the body as you twist to look over your left shoulder. Hold the twist for 10 seconds before repeating the twist on your left side.
Twisting Forward Fold
This last spine exercise begins to add in your legs by incorporating a hamstring stretch as well. Begin by taking a comfortable, wide stance. Inhale, reaching the arms up over your head, and then fold forward on the exhale. Place the left hand on the ground and reach your right hand towards the sky on the inhale. Look up towards your right hand while keeping your hamstrings engaged to provide the gentle twist of the spine. Hold this pose for just a few moments and then repeat on the other side.
Finish Up With the Hips–Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
Starting in a standing position, shift all of your weight into your right leg, bending and bringing your left leg up towards your chest. With both hands, grab your leg under you knee. Gently pull your knee up into your shoulder as far as is comfortably possible. You will notice a pinch in your hip on that side, which means that the stretch is working. Hold this position for five to ten seconds before switching and repeating the stretch on the other side.
Low Lunge With Down Dog
When you are done with the standing part of the stretch, go right into a low lunge. Starting on the left side, step your left leg forward, bending at the knee, while dropping your right leg towards the ground. Place both hands on the ground on the inside of your front foot to feel the stretch in your hips. Hold this stretch for 5 to 10 seconds before switching to the other side.
To switch, place your hands on either side of your front foot, engage your back leg and step your front foot back. Push your hips up high, your ears in line with your biceps, while keeping your core pulled in tight. Hold here for a few seconds and then repeat the low lunge on the right side this time.