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Stretching the Point (to stretch or not to stretch)
by Liz Davison
Sometimes no stretching can be better than bad stretching. While a regular yoga routine can be great for our general strength and flexibility, the word on the streets for pre-surf stretches is ‘dynamic’.
Stretching on the beach before surfing
Here’s the lowdown…
Slow, static stretching, like yoga, actually stimulates a reflex which tells our muscles to relax – not what you want if you’re heading out for a comp, or a big day at the Superbank – so the best time for yoga is after a surf to release the tension in your muscles, relax and work on your flexibility. I mean, lets face it, if you’re not flexible now, stretching for a few seconds before you hit the water ain’t gonna change it.
Before a surf (ie, just before you get in the water), you want to prep your body for the work you’re about to put it through. The best way to do this is through controlled, repetitive movements that are like actions you actually do when you’re surfing. So what we’re talking about here is what’s now being called “dynamic stretching”. What we don’t want is old school toe touches where you bounce up and down into the stretch, but controlled (and that’s the key) movements that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements.
This form of stretching will warm up our muscles and get us pumped up and ready to get out there while reducing the risk of muscle injury.
Lets get into it.
Start with a run to the beach (or run along the beach). The purpose of this is to raise your core body temperature and get your blood flowing. Increased blood flow in the muscles improves muscle performance and flexibility and reduces the likelihood of injury, so get the ol’ body moving…
Now, don’t worry about your arms, paddling out is a great warm-up for them. Let's move onto stretching your back. Lie on the sand with your hands under your shoulders and push up (about 1/2 way, don’t force it remember), do this about 8-10 times.
Pop up to standing and bring your hands up to fighter’s stance (fists at chest level, elbows down – this makes you look pretty mean, so no-one will be dumb enough to drop in on you). Gently twist from side to side, about 8-10 times each side, warming up your back for quick snaps and more critical turns.
Next bring your hands to your hips, step your feet about shoulder width apart and drop down into 8-10 deep squats, prepping your legs for generating some speed, and throwing lots of spray.
Finally, a few tuck jumps will get you making a super fast transition to your feet, and also psych you up and get you amped to get in the water. Now you’re ready to get out there!
So the basic idea with pre-surf stretching is – keep your body warm, your blood flowing. Like your surfing, you want to keep it controlled, fluid and a bit of fun…
*Got any injuries, illnesses or questions? Go see your doctor, physiotherapist or a good yoga teacher before doing any stretch routine and they should be able to help you out.*
© 2007 Liz Davison
Please select from the following articles previously featured on Surfing Mums Inc:Surfing in Hawaii with Kids
Diary of a Surfing Mum
Freedom and Envy : The Journey of a Surfing Mum
Learning to Surf Tips
Pregnancy and Surfing
Becoming Fit to Surf
The Fine Art of Juggling Children and Surfing
Honey, you're never too old to start surfing