Warming up and stretching before surfing is essential for increased performance and reducing risk of musculoskeletal Injury. According to the American college of sports medicine, "muscles at rest receive only 15 to 20% of blood pumped from the heart, but during vigorous exercise they may receive as much as 75%." A good warm up is necessary to increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles causing them to warm up, which then increases elasticity of connective tissues, which should reduce incidence of injuries to muscles, ligaments and tendons. It will also engage the neuromuscular system; thus increasing body's coordination and reaction time.
Photo: Anthony Ghiglia
Stretching exercises are designed to increase and or maintain a full range of motion of the joints thus avoiding injury to tight muscles and or joints. Stretching can improve physical performance, decrease injury, and help maintain good posture, improve muscular imbalances, and reduce low back pain by increasing flexibility of hamstrings, quads and hip flexors. It will increase blood flow and nutrients to tissues and joints and increase synovial fluids, which lubricate joints and keep them healthy.
Hey, that first stretch looks pretty easy! But if you give your body a warm-up before hitting the surf like Surf Shot reporter Carlos Battastini does here, chances are better that you will ripping waves instead of ligaments. Photos: Surfshot.com
Unfortunately surfers are like greyhounds at the track straining to get started. It's hard to imagine any surfers I know going to the beach and seeing neat 34 foot waves pealing off and say, "Gee, great waves, can't wait to go in after my 15 to 20 minute warm-up and stretch." This just isn't very realistic. Surfing conditions are too fluid and constantly changing; what's going off now may turn to mush in 20 minutes. Most likely a surfer will quickly wax-up and go out, not wanting to miss a second of good waves. Depending on the break, they may have an opportunity to slowly warm-up as they're paddling out. But here's a likely scenario. You're paddling out, almost through the impact zone, when an outside set comes rolling in. You're out of position; you scratch like crazy making it over the first two waves. As you make it over the second wave. You're looking up at someone taking off -you are directly in their path and they are right in the pit. You've got to put it into overdrive to get out of the way (forget about a slow warm-up; you've got to avoid a bad situation!). You take the inside route. Paddling as hard and deep as you can, giving the surfer a clear path, you get smacked by the breaking wave but avoid a collision. You're fine, except you have a little twigging feeling in your shoulder. You work through it during your session, but the next day you can't lift your arm to comb your hair. Being properly warmed up may have likely reduced possibility of this happening.
There are many methods of stretching. But what most fitness experts believe to be the most beneficial and direct is to both warm-up and stretch at the same time. An excellent and functional way for a surfer to properly prepare for a surfing session is by using yoga sun salutations. An eight to ten minute routine of yoga sun salutations will simultaneously warm-up the body's core temperature, and stretch muscles in a matter that's sport-specific for surfing (flexion, extension, and rotation of the spine, hips and legs). They will prepare the body to move toward the same rate of speed that is required in surfing, as opposed to slow static stretching. It will also charge up the neuromuscular system (for balance), and promote deep breathing, which will clear your mind and relax your body. Anyone who surfs knows how important it is to stay loose in tight situations. So give yoga a try, you'll be learning a practice that will help keep you healthy and in the water for a lifetime.
THERE ARE MANY METHODS OF STRETCHING. BUT WHAT MOST FITNESS EXPERTS BELIEVE TO BE THE MOST BENEFICIAL AND DIRECT IS TO BOTH WARM-UP AND STRETCH AT THE SAME TIME.