Posted by William on August 31, 2012
Flexibility is often an unappreciated aspect of sports performance. Insufficient flexibility increases the risk of injury in a wipeout or a collision with another surfer. In addition, it can distort the paddling stroke and reduce the ability to do bottom turns or cutbacks without strain.
Don’t stretch cold muscles; begin with about eight to 10 minutes of light warm-up of walking or calisthenics. Stretching should be done before surfing, strength training, endurance training or plyometrics. They can also be done as part of a cool-down after training. General information on stretching can be found elsewhere on this site in the upcoming article “Stretching for Athletes.”
Specific stretches for surfing include intensive stretching for shoulder joint flexibility and for midsection and neck flexibility during paddling and wave riding. Don’t try to copy the stretches used by people more flexible than you are. Find ways to stretch that doesn’t cause pain or injury. I have included list of stretches for each area that includes different levels of difficulty.
Start with the easiest stretch in each area and increase the difficulty if you don’t feel a stretch. Practice the stretches in front of a mirror to see the correct form and “get the feel” of the stretches being done correctly.
Here is a list with of various stretches useful for surfing performance. You can find instructions for all of them in the article ‘Stretches that Enhance Surfing.”
Tight Flexor Stretches: Pick one.
Cobra – inflexible
Cobra – average
Cobra – flexible
Thigh flexor stretch on the bench
Gluteus/Low Back Stretches: Pick one.
Knee to chest stretch – swayback
Knee to chest stretch – normal
Knee to chest stretch – flexible
Hamstring Stretches: Pick one.
Supine towel hamstring stretches
Hamstring stretches on decline bench
Hamstring stretches on flat bench
Standing hamstring stretches
Hip Stretches: Pick one of the first two stretches, and one of the other three.
Seated groin stretch
Supine groin stretch
Supine piriformis stretch (tight)
Supine piriformis stretch (flexible)
Seated outer hip stretch
Quadriceps Stretches: Pick one.
Prone one leg quadricep stretches
Prone two-leg quadricep stretches
Prone one leg towel quadricep stretches
Prone both legs towel quadricep stretches
Standing quadricep stretches
Leg up quadricep stretches
Ankle Stretches: Pick one of these stretches.
Calf and Achilles tendon stretch on stairs
Calf and Achilles tendon stretch
Spinal Stretches: Do all of these stretches.
Waist twist stretch
Hands and knees back arch
Upper Body Stretches: Pick one of the first two stretches and both of the other two stretches.
Front and back shoulder stretches
Front and back shoulder stretches (rounded upper back)
Finger crawl up the wall stretch
Neck Stretches: Do all of these stretches.
Neck “pull back” stretch (retraction)
Neck “turning” stretch (rotation)
Neck “tilting” (lateral flexion with nose as fulcrum)
Neck “headache stretch” (flexion with towel under chin)
Resistance Training For Strength, Stamina, Power and Speed
Resistance training has great value for surfers. It just needs to be applied correctly. Detailed information about how muscles work, muscle fiber types and their relationship to strength training and energy metabolism can be found in the upcoming article “Biomechanics and Muscle Physiology for Athletes,” which can be found elsewhere on this site.
Training with relatively light weights and high repetitions will develop the force that can be delivered by the Slow-Twitch muscle fibers.
That will increase the speed that can be sustained for long periods of paddling and reduce the time required to reach the line-up. It will also improve the muscular endurance required in the legs for long rides.
Training with heavier loads for fewer repetitions will stimulate the Fast-Twitch fibers used for paddling fast to get into the wave and develop the strength and power required from the lower body and midsection for turns while riding the wave. Both types of training should be included in a surfers strength-training program. If you want the increase in strength without weight gain, be sure to eat only enough high quality food to maintain your weight.