As surfers we can all agree on the importance of being flexible. Surfing is such a dynamic sport that we need to stay limber to keep at the top of our game. And although some of us may not be as "bendy" as we were 10 years ago, there is no reason to succumb to the stiffness that inevitably develops if we don't maintain regular flexibility training.
With post-surf stretching the idea is to increase the length of the muscles. A good way to do this is to perform slower-paced, static stretches. The best time to stretch is after activity, because that is when you want your muscles to relax and lengthen. Before you start stretching, make sure your body is warm; then, follow these guidelines to get the most out of your practice.
1. Move into the stretch slowly.
2. Hold your stretch for 15 to 20 seconds.
3. Breathe evenly.
4. Don't strain. The idea is to be relaxed.
5. Come out of the stretch slowly, and repeat if necessary.
If a certain area is tight, stretch that area a few more times. You will typically notice less tightness by your third repetition. We've included four stretches from Surf Stronger Volume 2 that are great after a day in the water. The areas we've focused on tend to tighten up from paddling and sitting on your board. So at the end of your day, take some time for stretching. The payoff is well worth it.
1. Child's stretch on the ball. This stretch hits the lat muscles straight on and is great after a long day of paddling. Emphasize one side by rolling the ball a little to the left or right.
2. Upper back extension on the ball. This stretch really gets at the chest and shoulders. It helps prevent the forward pull of the shoulders that comes from tight chest and lat muscles. Tip: To get the most out of this stretch, extend from the mid back, not from the low back.
3. Kneeling hip flexor stretch. Kneeling hip flexor stretch. This stretch lengthens the quad and hip flexor muscles, which tighten from prolonged sitting on your board, in your car, or at work. If your quad and hip flexor muscles become chronically tight, you might feel lower back tightness.
4. Shoulder stretch. This stretch is great for the posterior side of the shoulder. Make sure you stretch both shoulders.
Note: If you stretch before you surf, make sure to read our article "Warming up for Surfing." There is a big difference between what you do before you surf and what you do after you surf. How you warm up has a significant impact on how your body performs.
For more surf-specific training, get a Surf Stronger video today.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.