While surfing is a great way to exercise on its own, it can be extremely taxing on the body.
Doing a big top turn or cross stepping to the nose, you are twisting and turning into positions that you wouldn't otherwise find yourself in.
This is why many surf sessions will lead to that sore, stiff feeling the next day.
Not only does this make consecutive surfing days less appealing, but it makes the body much more susceptible to injuries.
Strains, sprains, and fractures are significantly more common than most other dangers surfers worry about While you can’t stretch your way out of a shark encounter, you can easily help prevent these other injuries with a few easy exercises.
Once you get your stretch routine in order, head on over to our main beginner surfboard page to get yourself the best surfboard for your needs!
Warming up before surf will prevent you from running down to the water's edge, only to feel a muscle in your hip pull or your shoulder begin to ache. Preparing your body for the range of motion it’s about to undertake is vital to prevent injuries and warm up your body.
#1: Arm Circles
To loosen up your shoulders before a long paddle, arm circles are an easy go-to. To do arm circles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and stretch your arms out parallel to the floor. Use your shoulder muscles to draw small circles with your hands. You can gradually make larger circles to stretch your back muscles as well. Reverse the direction of your circles halfway through to ensure a well-rounded stretch. A few minutes of arm circles is all that you need to warm up your shoulders.
To stretch out your lower back and your hips, lay down with your arms in a T shape. Lift your lower body and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Drop your knees to each side of your body without touching your feet to the ground. Doing 20 rotations on each side will prepare your lower body for the pressure of a quick pop up or drawn out bottom turn.
#3: Bound Forward Fold
To achieve a well rounded back stretch, fold forward with your feet shoulder width apart. Make sure to bend your knees and keep your lower back as flat as possible. You can stop here to get a glute stretch, or you can take it one step further. To get the full back stretch, bind your hands behind your back with your elbows and wrists squeezing together. Maintain a micro-bend in your elbows to avoid overstretching.
Although you’re surfed out, red-eyed, and ready for a good night's sleep, even ten minutes of recovery exercises will make all the difference in how your body feels the next day. Since you don't want to be sunburned and sore, take a few minutes to stretch out after your surf. Even if you do it with a well-deserved beer in your hand, your muscles will still reap the benefits.
#1: Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is one of the best ways to work out your muscle tissue after surfing and most other exercises. You can roll out any of the muscles that get tight after surfing, but a few examples include…
Sitting on the foam roller with your weight supported by your hands on the ground and your legs on the foam roller, lift your feet into the air. Roll yourself forward and backward until you begin to feel a slight soreness in your legs. This pressure is from the tissue breaking up, which can be a little bit uncomfortable at first. You should not feel any significant pain, and if you do, soften the pressure of your legs on the foam and put more weight on your hands.
Lying on your back with the foam roller under the arch in your spine, begin to roll up and down the length of your spine. You can straighten your arms into a full body stretch, or cross them behind your neck. Your weight should be on the foam roller and your heels, with a bend in your knees.
A foam roller is a great investment for an easy and quick surf recovery. Depending on your preference, foam rollers can be soft, hard, or even vibrating. Try to buy the best one for your desired level of flexibility and pressure.
#2: Eagle Arms
To stretch out your sore shoulders and thoracic spine, reach your arms out to the sides and bring one arm over the other, crossing at the elbows. Try to get your palms to touch evenly in a prayer-like position. Breathe in this posture for as long as you feel comfortable, ideally at least a minute on each side.
#3: Pigeon Pose
To release the tightness in your hips, start on all fours. Bring one knee forward behind your wrist (on the same side). Slowly slide your other leg back, straightening your knee. Square your hips towards the front of your body and try to relax your upper body down on top of your front knee. Hold this posture as long as you can, and then switch to the other side. This is a great stretch to relax into and hold for a few minutes to achieve the best results.
While eagle and pigeon are two easy go to stretches, doing any yoga sequence that feels good will help your body recover. Anything to stretch out the muscles used in a surf session will help alleviate soreness and tension the next day, keeping you in the water for the duration of the swell. You wouldn't want to miss out because of a sore or injured muscle, so take the time to prepare for and recover from your surf sessions. Your body, and your wave count will thank you.