Staying Fit For Surfing

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Staying Fit For Surfing

Staying Fit For Surfing

You've seen Kelly Slater do it so effortlessly. After all, paddling on your stomach and then jumping on the board to catch a wave seems easy, right? Not so much. It's actually very physically demanding, and pros like Slater train hard to get their bodies in peak condition before they take on the surf. To be a great surfer and to avoid injury when you head out to surf you need to have flexibility, balance, endurance and muscle strength.

A healthy diet A healthy diet is also another element to consider. You want to keep your body strong and provide it with the right fuel so that if you are injured your body has been living on a diet rich in vitamins which will ensure you'll be on the road to recovery faster.

Endurance and Muscle Strength Surfers require a high level of muscle strength and endurance in their shoulders as this is required during paddling. Strong thighs are also needed for getting up on the board. Balance is then vital to stay upright. This is where the stabilizer muscles come in to assist with your balance. Stabilizer muscles include the abdominal obliques and the gluteus medius in the thighs.

Endurance While having upper body strength isn't so important, you need to have muscular endurance. This is the ability to perform one activity over and over again with minimal fatigue. When it comes to surfing for example, surfers will need to paddle out many times while they are out in the surf. Without endurance, they'll become fatigued.

How to build up muscle endurance: Lift a weight that is heavy enough so that after 15 to 20 repetitions, you reach muscle failure.

Muscle StrengthMuscle strength is all about performing an intense muscle contraction for a small number of repetitions. When the legs are used to get up on the board and stay balanced for a short period of time, say 10 seconds, your lower body requires muscle strength to keep you on the board.

How to train to build up muscle strength: Lift a weight that is heavy enough so that after 4 to 8 repetitions, you reach muscle failure.

Training the muscles that don't get used while you surf While surfers often have strong thighs and strong backs, they can often have weaker abdominals, arms and calve muscles. To avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to injury make sure that no muscle groups are left out during your 'out of water' training.

Flexibility Being flexible is often the furthest thing from a surfers mind. But considering that overuse injuries account for approximately 25% of all surfing injuries, it pays to stretch. Areas to focus on should include the calves and hamstrings, the neck, shoulders and lower back. Proper flexibility will reduce injury and help prevent you from putting too much pressure on your joints.

Effective stretching: The best time to stretch is after you've warmed up. Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds before moving on to the next one.

Balance The more you surf and learn to stand on the board, the better your balance will be. In the beginning, it can be frustrating, however there are some things that you can do to improve your balance even before you hit the surf. Training the stabilizer muscles is the best way to improve your balance. This will be done by surfing itself, but you can also do these exercises out of the water:

*Stand on one leg for 1 minute with your arms out on both sides. Once you've mastered this, try closing your eyes and folding your arms and even extending the time to 2 or 3 minutes.

*If you're up for an even greater challenge, try balancing on one leg on a stability disk or Bosu ball. Once you can do this, try squatting on one leg. If you can master this, your balance will improve dramatically.

While surfing is a great workout on its own, it also requires you to put some training hours in outside the surf. By building your muscle strength, flexibility, balance and endurance you'll find that your surfing skills will improve and you'll be a pipe master in no time!

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"Surfing is climbing from a warm bed in pre-dawn’s coolness a sleepy drive, coffee and doughnuts at a roadside diner and the clatter of surfboards as they’re unstacked from the car rack. Surfing is the joy of watching a sun rise slowly into the sky. It’s crisp, clean waves, crests blown high by an offshore wind. It’s gray mist, dampness and cold sand under bare feet, the lonely cry of a gull sweeping across silent, brooding seas."

- Fred Wardy

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