Surfing is an intensive, full-body activity that involves repetitive motion (paddling), weird, posture-related tension (lower back tightness), frequent twisting (hips and neck), and unbalanced weight distribution (back leg versus front). Taking that into consideration, it’s no wonder that our bodies often feel tweaked after we surf.
One of the best things we can do to prepare our bodies to shred during each session and recover quickly after we paddle in is to integrate a short, effective yoga practice into our daily surf routine. This can be done in the morning when you wake up, shortly before paddling out, or after your session is complete—or all three, if you want! By focusing on flexibility, core strengthening, and balance, it’s possible to tune our bodies into the surfing activity, helping us rip into our 80s, and even longer!
Hawaiian South Shore’s resident yogi Kilty Inafuku suggests the following poses for surfers looking to limber up their bodies and improve their surf skills:
1) Thread the Needle: For this stretch, start on your hands and knees, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your legs and feet should be hip-width apart, and your fingers should point toward the front of the mat. From this table-top position, thread your left arm behind your right hand and lower your left shoulder all the way down to the mat, with your left ear on the floor and gaze directed to the right. Keep your left palm facing up. Broaden the upper back and relax the lower back by gently pressing your left forearm into the ground. Hold the pose for a minute, then slowly come out of it and back into the table-top shape. Repeat the stretch on the other side. This pose stretches the shoulders, back, and neck—all areas that are chronically tight on surfers. By performing this stretch before you surf, your body will be warmed up and limber for the session. And by performing it after you surf, you will release the tension
built up through repetitive motion and strain during your session.
2) Forward Fold With Interlaced Fingers Behind Your Back: This is a relatively simple pose and one that many people have probably done in some form. Standing with your feet at hip-width apart, interlace all ten fingers behind your back and slowly hinge forward from the hips. Folding forward with a small micro-bend in the knees will provide a stretch for the hamstrings and minimize potential strain on the low back. Then, allow the arms to elevate away from your back and up above your head to deepen the stretch, which benefits the front of the shoulders and upper pecs.
3) Happy Baby: This pose is great for stretching the hips and lower back and
putting you into a relaxed mood. Lying on your back, bring the legs up into the air and grasp the outer edges of the feet with each hand, keeping the low back on the floor as much as possible. Use your hands to pull gently downward on your feet, stretching both the inner thighs and outer hips.