07 Sep Yoga for Surfers: Post-Surf Stretch
We’ve all been there – you rock up to your local spot and find the waves are pumping. You pull on your wetsuit and strap on your leash at record speed, hurl yourself into the water and start paddling like crazy to the line up. It’s an epic session and you score some amazing waves. But the next morning, you wake up with a body that feels broken and bruised. Why does everything hurt?! Ah, of course – in all that excitement, you forgot to stretch.
It’s no wonder your muscles are so sore. We have so much fun in the water, it’s easy to forget that surfing is a full body workout. And like any other workout you’d do on land, you should really be doing a warm up and warm down for each surf session.
The lower back release – Child’s Pose
Come to kneel on the floor, sitting back on your heels with your big toes touching. Spread your knees as wide as your hips, then stretch your arms out in front of you and bring your forehead to meet the ground. Inhale deeply into the back of your torso to lengthen your spine, exhale to release deeper into the fold.
Child’s Pose lengthens your spine and relieves tension in your lower back – perfect for combatting the compression that happens in your back when you’re paddling. It’s also a gentle hip-opener and gives your shoulders a nice stretch.
The full-body stretch – Downward Dog
Start on all fours with your knees directly below your hips and your hands a few inches past your shoulders. Inhale, tuck your toes under and press down firmly into your fingertips; exhale to send your hips up and back. It’s better to have a straight spine than straight legs, so keep a slight bend in your knees to lengthen the spine and lift your sit bones up to the sky. Make sure your feet are hip-width apart and let your head hang heavy and relaxed.
Downward Dog is a great pose for stretching your whole body, from strengthening your shoulders and opening your chest to lengthening your hamstrings and stretching your calves and ankles.
The hip opener – Pigeon Pose
From Downward Dog, lift your right leg up and bring your right ankle behind your left wrist. Slide your left leg back so you’re sitting with your hips square facing forward. Depending on your flexibility, you can have your right knee directly in line with the right ankle. If your hips are tight, bring that right heel closer to your body for a less intense stretch. Inhale to lengthen your spine and lift the chest, exhale and sit into your hips or fold all the way forward to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Pigeon Pose is the ultimate hip opener – it lengthens the hip flexors and stretches the glutes, groin and psoas muscles. It feels amazing to release the tension that builds up in your hips after sitting on your board for hours.
The shoulder opener
Lie down on your stomach and extend your left arm out to the side in line with your shoulder. Bend your right leg towards you and bend your right arm so the elbow is facing up. Push the floor away with your right hand and slowly roll onto your left side to open up the left shoulder. Gently guide your right foot to land behind your left leg wherever it feels comfortable. Repeat on the other side.
This is a super deep stretch for the right shoulder, so ease yourself into it slowly and rest where the stretch feels just deep enough without feeling uncomfortable. Trust us – after hours of paddling, this will feel so amazing.
The juicy twist – Supine Twist
Lie on your back with your legs extended. Inhale to bring your left leg into your chest, exhale and gently guide the knee across your body to bring it over to the right. Try to keep both your shoulders grounded into the floor as your gaze over towards the left. To deepen the stretch, see if you can catch your right foot with your left hand. Repeat on the other side.
This delicious spinal twist literally wrings out any tightness along your spine, so it will feel especially juicy on those tense back muscles after a long surf session.