Muscle flexibility, strength,and endurance during your surf lesson are often the most important factors that determine how successful it is going to be. However they can make up for each other in that if you are very flexible you will not need so much strength and if your are strong then you will not need to be so flexible.
The worst thing about surfing, in some parts of the world more than others is the fact that we can’t always go surfing simply because the conditions are not always suitable or we are away from the coast for some time.
Hence finding exercises that will compliment your surfing is important so when you do finally get back in the sea you are not exhausted after your first few waves.
Fortunately training for surfing can be varied and fun due to the fact that you are needing both anaerobic and aerobic respiration (sprinting and long distance). When you are just getting the hang of the basics of surfing in the white water then the majority of your effort it going to be anaerobic as you are not paddle long distances. So working on something called your lactic acid threshold can be beneficial to reduce fatigue during your surf lesson.
It’s no secret that the top surfers have been into yoga for a while now, Tom Carroll, Garrett MacNamara, Brian Conley, Taylor Knox… this list goes on, but you don`t have to be a professional for yoga to benefit your surfing.
Surfing relies on strength and flexibility in muscles that most people rarely notice, although you are very likely to notice them the next day!
Getting to the standing position in your surf lesson will require a less effort if you more flexible and less effort mean longer time surfing before you get tired. So here are a few great yoga stretches to give you a head start and help you get the most out of your surf lesson.
Here are 6 yoga poses taught in the DVD, along with specialist advice for surfers:
Uttanasana (Standing forward bend.)
This pose will lengthen your hamstrings.
How to do it… Keep your feet hip distance apart and fold your body forwards, bring your fingertips to the floor or hold your elbows.
For surfers…Claw your toes into the mat and firm your leg muscles so that they gently hug to bone; this action will help you learn to stay on your board when being hit by a lip and help you do more powerful turns.
High Chaturanga (Plank)
This pose will build core and arm strength.
How to do it… Bring your hands underneath your shoulders and wiggle your feet back so that your head, hips and feet are in a straight line.
For surfers…Scoop your tailbone forwards, toward your pubic bone and imagine your inner organs being magnetised to your back ribs; this will increase your core strength improving all aspects all surfing.
Shalabhasana (Locust pose.)
This pose increases strength and flexibility in your back.
How to do it…Lying on your front, press your toenails into the mat but lift your chest away from the mat. Interlace your fingers behind your back and lengthen them up and back, towards your toes.
For surfers…Scoop the tailbone under to protect and stabilize your lower back, a vulnerable area for surfers. Instead find more movement in the upper back by lengthening your heart forward.
Adho mukha svanasana (Downward facing dog.)
This pose lengthens hamstrings, opens shoulders and strengthens arms.
How to do it…Start on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Now, without
moving the position of your feet or hands, straighten your legs bringing yourself into an upside down “V” position.
For Surfers…Many surfers struggle with this pose due to tight hamstrings and shoulders. If you find it uncomfortable, try bending your knees (but keep your back flat.) Or try the second variation at the wall
Marichyasana (Seated twist.)
Twists improve mobility of the spine and flush out toxins.
How to do it… Start with both your legs straight, then cross one leg over the other placing the foot on the ground. Wrap the other leg round to side so that it rests by your buttock. The arm on the same side as the leg which has wrapped around now comes across the body and holds the outer thigh with the remaining arm resting on the floor behind you.
For surfers.. this stretch also loosens the outer thigh muscles in preparation for jumping to your feet during your surf lesson as well as the back for any sudden unexpected movements.
Rajakapotasana variation (Thread the needle.)
This pose stretches your hips, especially the outer rotator muscles in the butt.
How to do it… Lying on your back bend both knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. Now cross one of your ankles over the other leg with the ankle resting just below the knee. Now thread the needle; take one arm in between the legs and one round the outside and hug the leg which was resting on the ground into your body. The foot will come off the ground.
For surfers…This is a great post surf stretch, releasing the outer rotator muscles will stop any pulling on the knees. Also loosens up muscles that often restrict jumping to your feet.
Not only does practicing yoga dramatically improve your surfing performance but it is also almost as addictive as surfing, taping into that incredible feeling when your body tells you that you are doing something that feels so right.
The above wastaken from “Yoga for Surfers” DVD, a collaboration between well known Cornish yoga teacher Georgie Fearn and Tom Roberson, owner of Breakers Surf School based in St Agnes is filmed in North Cornwall.
Years of surfing and yoga experience have gone into this DVD. Georgie has been teaching yoga classes and workshops in the “Anusara” style for over 10 years and is a regular teacher at Surf Solution training camps. Georgie has also surfed for over a decade. Tom Roberson has been surfing since he was 8, teaching others how to do it since 1999 and running his owning surf school for 10 years. Tom and Georgie met in the water in 2008 and did a stint together working at Pure Blue Surf camp in Morocco before having a family together.
This DVD teaches specific stretches to help you learn to jump to your feet every time and for more advanced surfers it will help you do more radical turns and have the confidence to go for bigger waves. It teaches warm up and cool down stretches.
It also teaches specific breathing techniques for lengthening your breath capacity, to give you more confidence in the sea.
To purchase this DVD click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.
During your surf lesson your muscles will be producing lactic acid as you ask your muscles to work hard paddling for a wave and jumping to your feet. By increasing your lactic acid threshold you are increasing the amount you can ask your arms to paddle and your body to jump up before they start to ache.
One great way of increasing your lactic acid threshold is interval training. This involves intervals of exercise followed by intervals of rest and can be done with a variety of exercises.
- Sit ups- develop core strength for balance
- Burpees-use the same muscle groups and getting to your feet
For initial surf lesson you are unlikely to need to paddle more than a few metres so aim for intervals of 25 metres. Gradually increase the pace or decrease the rest period throughout your training session everyone is different so I wont suggest times just try and improve your personal fitness. You can also make the intervals more interesting by swimming with fists clenched or fingers open to increase the force required by your muscle. For preparing to have surf lessons riding waves out past the breaking surf another way of making it more realistic would be to swim down and touch the bottom of the swimming pool first once then twice and finally three times throughout the interval to simulate, and prepare for, going under waves. Obviously be aware of your limits during as pushing yourself too hard in the water can be dangerous.
If you are have a series of surf lessons hoping to end up surfing to past the breaking waves you may be paddling for a few minutes so your muscles will be contracting aerobically depending on good cardiovascular fitness.
Aerobic training involves continued muscle contraction over a prolonged period of time. This would be important for a surfer during long paddle outs or surfing where there is a strong out past the broken waves.
The best form of exercise to develop fitness for paddling is swimming. This develops the same muscle groups as paddling and also gives the surfer a chance to develop technique very similar to the action, thus improving muscle memory.
In its simplest form long distance swimming is a good aerobic exercise, in different training session the surfer could aim to increase the pace or the distance. Training in the swimming pool is also a good opportunity to develop lung capacity by adding swimming set distances underwater. This also gives a surfer confidence and ability to stay safer in larger surf.
All the equipment you need for your surf lesson is provided and I would not recommend buying a surf board until you have a surf lesson and speak to your surf instructor for advice specific to you and your ability. However if you do want to buy your own wetsuit before the lesson then here are a few things to consider.
How often and what time of year are you going to be wanting to have your surf lesson and obviously the price is likely to be an issue. The two main considerations are the thickness of the neoprene and the stitching.
If you only want to come for surf lessons in July and August in Cornwall then a cheaper (£40-£60) full length summer wetsuit would be fine. The main thing that makes these wetsuits cheaper is the stitching; these wetsuits have what is called flat locked stitching meaning the thread goes all the way through the wetsuit meaning the wetsuit is not water tight.
The more expensive summer wetsuits will last you from May-October and have blind stitching which means the tread only goes halfway through the neoprene and is often re-enforced with tape leaving the seam water tight keeping you warmer in your surf lesson.
Surf lessons from October you would want to start considering a thicker winter wetsuit, which with accessories such as boots hood and gloves can keep you in the sea throughout the year. These wetsuits will always have blindstiching and you can pay a little extra to have the seams rubber sealed as well.
Most surfers have at least two or three wetsuits of different thicknesses. If you only want to buy one wetsuit then I would like to surf most of the year then I would recommend a 4mm/3mm blindstiched wetsuit. Especially for a child as they grow out of wetsuits so quickly and a 5mm wetsuit for a small child can be uncomfortable.
In buying a thicker wetsuit for your surf lesson although you are going to be warmer they are more restricting than the thinner wetsuits and so paddling and getting to your feet in your surf lesson is going to be harder.
At the end of each season we sell off our wetsuits and replace them so get in touch if you want a good wetsuit but don`t mind buying second hand. Otherwise aggie surf shop just up the road from us has a large range of wetsuits with a price match guarantee to choose from.