We’ve all probably been there. Since you don’t have a warm up routine of pre surf stretches, you go to stand up on your first wave and fall because you're still feeling tight. Fortunately, we’re here to help you out. We’ve partnered with our good friend Cris Mills, aka the Surf Strength Coach, to share some of the best surf stretches that we've learned from him.
Surfing is a dynamic activity that uses tons of different muscles to help you with paddling, popping up, and staying on your board. Whether you want to improve flexibility in your legs, hips, shoulders or some other body part or to stay healthy, there’s a stretch for you. We’ve compiled a guide for some of the top stretches for surfing that will have you feeling loose, ready to rip, and help you avoid injury.
Needless to say, if something feels wrong when you’re trying any of these: STOP.
Dynamic Warm Ups
A lot of us sit for most of the week and then expect to surf our best without any sort of warm up. The truth is that if we’re just used to sitting around, we’re not going to surf well without some serious stretching. Just look at how much movement there is in most basic maneuver of popping up. You'll definitely need to use some of the best pre surf stretches.
it’s important to make sure that you are warm and ready to move before you hit the water. Not only does it make your surfing better, it will help you avoid injuries. Doing some dynamic warm up stretching is a great way to help loosen your body up and get yourself ready to shred.
You may think dynamic stretching is too similar to muscle building activities. Really though, all the movement will get your muscles loose and your blood flowing so that you are more prepared for surfing and your muscles won’t be tightening.
Fortunately, we have a few solid options that we like to use when we are warming up. The first warm up stretch involves stepping one foot forward from a plank position to a low lunge. First push your hips down, then up. Finally, after returning to a neutral position, twist with your trunk and reach with the hand on the open side of your body to the sky. Repeat this series of actions multiple times.
Much of surfing comes from having loose hips. The second awesome dynamic warm up we’ve seen uses movement to loosen up your joints in your hips as well as loosening your upper body. One note before we get into the stretch is that if you have spine issues, this stretch is not for you.
Starting in a pushup position, work on walking your feet forward bit by bit as much as you can. As you do so, drive your heels as much into the ground as you can. You should feel your hips opening up and your calves stretching as well as movement through your shoulders and arms.
It is important that as you do these warm up exercises, keep your core tight so you can maintain good posture. If you are unable to do these exercises at first, break them down into their components and work on each part one at a time until you can put all the movements together.
Rolling Out Muscles
As surfers, we use our shoulders constantly. Whether it is paddling for waves or standing up, most of our muscle usage is in our shoulders and upper back. It’s important to keep these loose so that you can surf for longer and feel better while doing so.
To help with this goal, we recommend using a tennis ball to help relieve tension in your muscles. Though called self myofascial release, all you need to know is that you can help loosen sore muscles and release some of the knots you might be feeling. We can’t think of a better option for a post surf stretch after a long session.
The main idea behind this is applying light pressure to release pain points in your muscles. To do so, use a tennis ball and place it between your back and either a wall or the ground. Then, all you need to do is have it roll around to loosen your muscles.
For best results, stretch your arm across your chest. This will stretch the back muscles that connect from your shoulder blades so that you can reach the spots that need it most.
You can also use a tennis ball to loosen the muscles on your shoulder. By grabbing the tennis ball with your opposite hand on your shoulder, you can massage out any aches that may have resulted from a full day of surfing. You'll find that this is one of the best post surf stretches for surfers to help you recover quickly so you're ready to go again right away.
This is our recommended surf training program by Surf Strength Coach:
Once your on the wave, you’ll notice that almost every motion you make hinges through your hips. One of the best stretches we’ve found to help with your range of motion is the shin box. It’s a great stretch that you can do before paddling out or at home just to stay lose.
For the shin box, sit with your feet out and on the ground but with your knees bent. Your ankles should be spread slightly wider than shoulder width. From this position alternate bringing your knees down to one side and then the other. Hold each position for a few seconds before repeating as you continue to get loose.
This stretch is a simple one that does wonders for loosening up the joints in your hip. The lateral hip movement will help you feel good through turns and any turbulence you’ll experience on a wave.
You may have noticed that we’ve really been hammering the hip stretches in this article. The reason is because your hips are one of the most important joints to keep loose when surfing. Just watch a video of any top surfer, and you will notice how much flexibility is required from your hips.
One that you can do easily is a quadriceps/hip flexor stretch. Take a knee. Once you are in that position, raise your back leg and rest your back foot on a couch or chair or whatever you have and sit up straight and breath. If you’re not able to sit up straight, do as much as you can and work up to straight up. Alternate sides.
A second stretch that works wonders is the 90/90 hip stretch. It goes by 90/90 because one knee is angled 90 degrees inwards and the other 90 degrees outward. There are a whole variety of moves you can add to this simple position to make a more dynamic stretch for your needs. This stretch will help increase the range of motion laterally and back and forth for your surfing.
You’ll notice that there are a bunch of stretches for your hip joints and your shoulders and back. It’s because these are the main muscle groups and joints that hold you back from being the surfer that you know you can be. These are just a few stretches to help you surf looser and longer since you’ll be feeling better than ever and preventing injuries from pulling on tight muscles.
There are many more stretches out there that we also learned from our friend Cris Mills. His program, the Surf Athlete Training Program, has way more information about different stretches and exercises to help you surf better. The most important takeaway we got from his program is the importance of taking care of your body so that we can surf to our maximum potential.
So if you want to feel better, surf better, and take your surfing to the next level we recommend his program. There’s tons of great information to help you out and an excellent app with all exercises and stretches to make you feel great and surf better.