SurfingThe air and the water are warming up and some of you have already swopped your wettie for a pair of boardies. The Pacific Ocean is still bringing some good waves and the days are longer. Fun is on the way!

Besides the die-hard surfers who surfed through winter, some of us have waited for the summer to settle in to wax their board and hit the water. Some of us have neglected their surf fitness during winter. You know the scenario: it takes a few weeks to get your paddle fitness, balance and agility back, you see yourself slower than usual on the wave and the risk of injuring yourself is higher.

That is exactly why during this pre-season period it is important to follow a specifically designed surf fitness program, to progressively get back to your optimal fitness level and to adopt a warming up and stretching routine.

Although we can help you recover from injury, rebalance and align your body so you move freer, there are experts for this sort of fitness. Fit2Surf offers an 8 weeks, specifically designed program to get fit for summer. The gym is located in the High Performance Centre in Cromer and the classes are designed and led by surfer and personal trainer, Gerard McCallum. I have tried the program:  it’s awesome, challenging, fun and most importantly designed to improve your surfing level. It worked my stance, paddle strength, balance, rotation ability and the base of all, core stability. I highly recommend this unique program for every surfer on the Northern Beaches.

Once your fitness level is up to date, let’s go to step 2; the surfing. I am not going to give you any advice on that but I will briefly show you how you can improve your reactivity and flexibility before and after your session.

First the warm-up. I am always amazed on how few of us spend time getting their muscles ready before paddling out. You should know it by now, stretching before the activity does not warm up your body. A good warm up should consist of a short jog followed by dynamic movements designed to specifically prepare your joints. Increasing the range of motion and amplitude of your articulations is desirable but should be done while moving. Static stretches slow down the muscle ability to contract and although beneficial to keep a good flexibility, they should be kept for the after-session.

A basic yoga sequences is a good way to warm-up before your session without making you look like some aerobic freak out of a TV show from the 80s. Here is a routine that you can adopt, but once again you can modify it to adapt to your specific needs.

1)    Start with 5 to 10 basic sun salute. That is a great way to warm up your knees, lower back, upper thoracic, wrist and shoulders. It does also open your hips and stretch your hips flexors. The deeper squats will wake up your legs muscles and the push-off will prepare you for the take-off.

2)    Follow with some dynamic thoracic and lumbar rotation. For that first lie on your side, and rotate your shoulders and neck 10 times to the opposite direction. Swop and do the same on the other side. Then lie flat on your back and rotate your knees 10 times on each side. This will increase the rotation of your torso and your neck and allow your turns to be sharper and more precise. This will also warm up the muscles of your neck which will help you to lead the rest of your body where you want to go.

To summarize: in 5 min and 2 exercises you have warmed up your body, increased your flexibility. Your muscles are awake, your reactivity has sharpened, and the risk of injury has diminished. In the next blog I will tell you what you can do to keep your muscles flexible through the year and a quick stretching program that you can do after your session. Now get off your computer, grab your board, run to the beach and enjoy the beginning of summer before the onshore winds settle in!

Francois Naef – Osteopath





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