Warming Up For Surfing

You pull up to your local break and it's firing. Winds are light, and the crowds aren't on it. So you add a little wax to your board, race across the beach, and drop your board on the sand. You reach to touch your toes (man, those hamstrings are tight), do a few arm circles, and hit the water. Sound familiar?

As a coach and trainer, I always watch what surfers do before they paddle out. And I've seen it all - from yoga to jumping jacks. Why do most surfers short change their warm up? I think it has to do with the excitement of seeing those perfects waves. Surfers have a sense of urgency screaming "get out there!" And even when the waves aren't perfect, we squeeze in a surf between work, family time, or just before the sun sets. Time is tight, but you need to do something to help you transition from land to water. So what constitutes a good pre-surf warm up?

To keep it simple, a good warm up:

1. Gradually increases your heart rate.
2. Raises your body temperature.
3. Moves in a manner that looks like surfing.

So a light jog on the beach is good, but try extending the jogging time until you feel your breathing rate increase. This is a good sign that your heart rate is up, too. Next, try these dynamic exercises that stimulate your nervous system and mimic surfing movements:

Single-Leg Balance Reach
Stand over one foot placed flat on the ground; reach high over head and slightly squat. Reach to the side of the planted foot and then re-center yourself. This will tune up your balance and increase your stability once you pop to your feet. 5 x each direction.

Side bend image

Reverse Lunge Twist
Take a big step backwards with one leg and rotate arms across your lead leg. Pause, and then repeat to the other side. You will feel a stretch on the front of your hip, torso, and shoulders - it's a great full body warm up. 5 x each side.

Reverse lunge image

Side-to-Side Lunge
Facing the ocean, take a large step sideways. Shift your weight to each side as you stretch the opposite leg. This exercise will warm up your hips and legs. 5 x each side.

Side bend image

You'll break a light sweat after a few rounds of each exercise. Now your body temperature is up. Your entire warm up should take no longer than 5 minutes, and you'll be ready to stick that first drop.

Note that the warm up does not involve static stretching (the kind of stretch where you lengthen the muscle and hold the position). Save this type of stretching for after surfing. Keep the pre-surf stretching active. The slower-paced and longer-held stretches hinder your reaction time by reducing the elasticity of your muscles. A slower reaction is the last thing you want as you negotiate that pitching lip! Static stretching is best for after surfing, when you want to recover and relax. That's when you work on those tight hamstrings.

For more surf-specific training, get a Surf Stronger video today.

Keep fit, and I'll see you in the water.

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.