Good posture and alignment—while beneficial to everyone—is critical for athletes. And surfers are no exception.
Understanding good posture and how to maintain it throughout your surf session is key to your surfing health and longevity. Before you start training, let's look at the three positions that occupy most of your time during a surf session: your paddling position, your resting position (sitting on your board), and your surf-stance position.
The following exercises can help improve your posture and alignment while in the water.
The Human DartWhy? To strengthen your posterior core and create good alignment and paddling endurance.
Lie face down on an exercise ball with your feet braced against a wall. Your rib cage should hug the ball. Make your legs straight, tighten your gluteal muscles, and lift your chest so you make a perfect diagonal line from your ankles to your ears. That line should connect through your knees, hips, and shoulders. Now pull your arms to your sides, rotate your thumbs away from your body, tighten your triceps muscles, and squeeze your shoulder blades down and together. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. You will feel this exercise along your entire back side.
Tip: Yes, the ball pushes right against your stomach, so breathe by expanding into your back and chest. Have a mirror or a partner to help get proper alignment. As you get stronger, hold a one to five pound weight in each hand.
The Pre-Surf Warm UpWhy? Sitting on your board for prolonged periods can tighten your hips and quads.
This tightness can throw off your surf stance by forcing you to lean too far forward. An excessive forward lean is bad for your style and bad for your back. Do reverse lunges as part of your warm up to lengthen the hip flexors and warm up your legs.
Take a big step backwards and drop your back knee towards the sand. Reach up with your arms to lengthen the front of your body. Alternate your left and right legs, with 10 to 15 repetitions. Include this exercise as part of your warm up every time you work out or surf.
Tip: Keep both knees at right angles when you drop into your lunge, and keep your core braced to prevent your lower back from overarching.
The Medicine Ball TossWhy? To simulate the alignment and rotational movements in your surf stance.
Stand sideways with your left hip facing a concrete wall. (If you don't have a wall, grab a partner.) Hold a two to eight pound medicine ball with both hands. Shift your weight to your right foot, and brace your core. Quickly swing the ball, rotate your hips towards the target, and release the ball. Retrieve the ball from your partner or on the bounce and repeat. Do 10 reps on each side.
Tip: Make sure to pivot on the toes of your back foot when you rotate your hips. Adjust your distance from the wall or from your partner based on your skill and strength. For more challenge, increase the weight, but don't lose the quickness.
Include these exercises in your routine and you'll feel more tuned in to your alignment. Surf regularly and this new found stability and alignment will transfer to better surfing skills.
Scott Adams has been a fitness professional for 15 years. He holds a degree in Exercise Physiology and advanced certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS) and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (CES). He created the top-selling training video for surfers, Surf Stronger, The Surfer's Workout.