These 5 simple yoga stretches are perfect for an all-round warm-up before surfing. Focusing on stretching out your back body before hours of paddling about, in a what is essentially a sustained backbend. It works with hip and shoulder mobility, which are both key players in obtaining peak performance when out surfing. This surf warm-up also builds a bit of heat in your quads and core, as well as releasing built-up tension in your neck and upper back that may be leftover from the day before’s session. In as little as five minutes, these five best yoga poses for a surf warm-up will have all of the main muscles and joints used in surfing prepped and ready to perform!
Begins to mobilise your spine and wake up your shoulders and hips. Mobility in these 3 areas is key to your agility and performance when out on the water surfing. This loose mobility exercise is a great place to start when warming up pre-surf.
Stand with feet a bit wider than hip-width apart and keep your knees soft and bouncy, just as you would when on a surfboard. Begin to swing your arms so that they tap your hips, with your head moving in unison. Work your way up to your side body with each swing until you reach your shoulders and then head back down to tap your hips. Repeat at least 10 times.
Forward fold with IT band stretch
A forward fold will begin to release any tension along the whole myofascial backline running from your heels, all the way up the back of your legs and spine and finishing on your brow. Opening up in the pose to each side helps access the muscles inserting into the IT band, the thick band of connective tissue running along the outside of each leg.
Take as much of a bend in your knees as you need in order to keep the spine extended and an anterior tilt of the pelvis (hinging at the hips) whilst lowering down into the forward fold. Once there allow yourself 5-10 breaths, focusing on using your exhalations to release further down towards the ground and releasing tension held in your neck. Then straighten one knee and bend the other, opening up to the side with one hand. Repeat the other side. Bring hands to hips and push firmly into the floor on an inhale to rise up.
Wide-legged forward fold with hands clasped behind back
This version of a forward fold continues to open up the back body but also starts to stretch out the adductor muscles in the inner thighs. Including the handclasp behind your back helps you to stretch out your chest in preparation for paddling.
Interlace your hands behind your back and pull your hands down away from you. As with the other version of a forward fold, make sure that you don’t lock your legs out when extending down. Your legs can be straightened once you’re safely in the pose if you feel like you need more of a stretch. Once down you can work your palms towards each other to intensify the stretch and draw the shoulder blades together, begin pulling your hands towards to sky to create as much space around your neck as possible. Come up on an inhale, engaging your quads to rise.
Squat and Skandasana
Open mobile hips are paramount to surfing, especially the shorter board you ride. Moving from a squat into Skandasana is a great way to encourage and improve your range of motion in your hip joints. This sequence also decompresses your scarum, stretches your adductors and opens your chest and shoulders.
Turn your feet out 45 degrees with legs just wider than hip-width apart. Sit down between your feet keeping your spine long, your tailbone reaching down towards the floor and your sternum (centre of your chest) lifted. If your heels don’t touch the floor and you’re on sand then prop your heels up on your surfboard for support. Take 5-10 breaths here. To work on more shoulder mobility you can hook one arm around from the front side of your knee and then clasp your hands behind your back.
For more ideas on surf warm-ups click here.
Next, extend one leg out to the side into Skandasana. From here begin to sway from one hip to the other, straightening one leg and then the other in turn and eventually landing flat on the bent knee heel if possible. Start with your hands on the floor just in front of you, making the movement as slow and controlled as possible and keeping the lift in your spine and chest that you’ve created in the squat. To challenge your core and leg strength further keep your hands together whilst moving from side to side.
Cow Face arms
Working with internal and external rotation of the shoulders and stretching out the triceps and pectorals. In the case of not being able to grab your other hand, you can hold onto a t-shirt or leash to bridge the gap.
Raise your right arm directly up and then bend your elbow bringing your right hand down behind your right shoulder blade. Externally rotate your left hand, turning the palm down and out, and bring the arm behind you, flexing the elbow to bring your hands into a monkey grip (tips of fingers locking into each other). Keep on trying to work the right elbow up and back, Paying attention to keep your chest open and resisting the urge to round your back. Repeat on the other side.
For the perfect deep stretch out after surfing click here.