It’s just you, your board, and a beautiful sunrise on the water - until you wipe out.
Surfing may be a fun and freeing sport, but it does have a pretty high bar of entry. While many surfing pros make it look easy, beginners are often put off by how hard it is to stay upright on the board, much less tackle massive waves. So, to help you clear the bar, here are five surfing tips to help improve your stability.
Pick the right board(s) and conditions
The board you choose plays a direct role in your ability to stay upright. When picking a board, you’ll need to consider:
- Your height and weight. The taller you are and the more you weigh, the more board you’ll need.
- Fitness level. Thinner, less buoyant boards will demand a lot of arm strength to paddle and core strength to manoeuvre.
- Wave type. Surf conditions can vary significantly from day to day and beach to beach, so surfers will often have a few boards. For small waves, a longboard is best. For medium-soft, a longboard or fish will do. However, more aggressive and large waves require a step-up or performance board.
Now, pro and most intermediate surfers won’t be too limited by conditions. But for beginners, the professional recommendation is to get a board with a lot of volume. You’ll need one that’s 2+ metres long, 55-60 centimetres wide, and around 7 centimetres thick. Starting off on a soft-top surfboard and gentler waves will also help you keep your balance and work your way up.
As you can imagine, surfing requires balance and a lot of core strength. Here are the key exercises to try:
Crunches and sit-ups are great for toned-looking abs, but dead bugs is an exercise that targets the spinal erectors and transverse abdominis muscles: the deep core stabilisers you’ll need to surf.
- Lay on your back on the floor.
- Lift and straighten your arms so they’re perpendicular to the floor. Engage your core, and make sure your lower back maintains constant contact with the floor. Lift your legs, bending your knees at a 90-degree angle so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. This is the starting position.
- Keeping your core engaged and spine neutral, lower your left arm backwards over your head while simultaneously lowering and extending your right leg. Move slowly and steadily, making sure there’s minimal twisting in your back and hips, and stop right before your hand and heel touch the ground.
- Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position, exhaling as you go.
- Repeat for the right arm and left leg.
- Do 10-15 reps for both sides.
- Increase your rep count gradually over time as your core gets stronger.
Planking also activates your deep core stabilisers, strengthening them and helping you improve your overall balance. To that end, try mixing both regular and side planks into your routine.
Single leg balance
As the name might suggest, you’ll need to stand on one leg for this one. Keep your arms and back neutral while you do so, and don’t touch your knees together. If you’re just starting out or feeling wobbly, staring at a fixed spot should help. And if you feel steady enough for more of a challenge, close your eyes.
Try to keep your balance for 20 seconds, then repeat for your other leg. Do 3-5 reps per side. Doing this exercise a few times a week will help improve the stability of your ankles and knees, thus helping you keep your balance on your surfboard.
This is a more advanced version of the single-leg balance. With this exercise, all you’ll need is a mate (or a wall) and a small bouncy ball. Stand on one leg and throw the ball, then do your best to catch it without your other foot touching the ground (and without falling over!).
You’ll engage different parts of your core and leg as you bend this way and that, improving your balance and proprioception.
Get yourself a balance board
Like the exercises above, it’ll help you activate and strengthen your core muscles and improve your balance. But unlike the exercises above, it’ll do so by stimulating a safer (and hopefully less frustrating) surf training experience in the comfort of your own home.
Sports Back Support
And on that note, you might also try out sports braces with medical-grade compression. Compression knit works by activating key muscle groups as you move, improving your awareness of how your joints align and move.
For example, our Sports Back Support has compression and gel padding to stimulate the core muscles for maximum movement control. And as the twists and bends in surfing can be quite demanding on the back, it’ll also offer a great layer of protection for your spine without limiting movement.
You can also try out our Sports Knee Brace and Sports Ankle Support. They work on a similar principle of muscle activation and can help improve how your knee and ankle joints align and track. They’ll be especially useful if you have an old injury that’s limiting movement or causing instability.
Sports Ankle Support
And last but not least, practice!
Simply put, the more you surf, the better at it you’ll be. So, once you’ve got the right gear and your exercise routine sorted, get out there and catch some waves. No matter how embarrassing wiping out can be, keep at it. And remember that even surf legends like Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore had to start somewhere.
To sum up
Surfing is one of the more difficult sports to get into. So, if you’re just starting out, don’t get discouraged. With a good exercise regimen, the right gear, and plenty of practice, you will get better in no time.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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