As a surfer, whether beginner or advanced, you know the importance of warming up before paddling out. You’ve probably watched experienced surfers readying themselves pre-surf by stretching on the beach with some yoga-like poses before hopping in the water. Not only does stretching before a surf help to reduce injuries, but it also readies your body and mind for what’s ahead, leading to even more epic surfs, better waves caught, and more time in the water.
We’ve created the most efficient and effective pre-surf sequence for you to target shoulders, back, hips and hamstrings to help you prepare for your surf in a matter of minutes. No need for a yoga mat, lots of space or fancy clothes, this dynamic flow can be done on the beach or boat deck, in a wetsuit or board shorts, wherever and however you find yourself before getting in the water.
#1 Forward Fold with Laced Hands.
- Start standing, feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent. Interlace your hands behind your back, pressing palms together and squeezing shoulder blades towards one another.
- Keeping your hands interlaced, begin to fold forward, hinging at the hips and and letting your head drop towards your toes. Bend your knees enough so that your stomach is close to your thighs-this allows your spine to lengthen. You can keep your laced hands on your lower back or if you feel that your shoulders will allow it.
- Reach your laced hands up and over your head, creating more sensation in your shoulders.
- Hang out here for 10 deep breaths, making sure your head is heavy and knees are bent!
This stretch creates space across the chest and shoulders, length in the thoracic and cervical spine, releases tension in the lumbar spine, as well as stretches the backs of the legs.
#2 Downward Facing Dog.
- From your forward fold, release your hands to the ground and step your feet back into a downdog. Your body should be making an upside down V shape, hands shoulder width apart and feet hip width apart.
- Find some movement at first, bend one knee and the other to lengthen the backs of the legs, shake your head yes and no to release tension in the neck. Eventually find stillness, keeping your knees bent a little or a lot if hamstrings feel tight, let you head be heavy and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Gently engage your core to help lengthen and support your spine even more.
- Once you find a still downdog, stay here for 10 deep breaths.
Downward facing dog is another yoga pose that is amazing for surfers-it stretches the whole back body and creates strength and stability around the shoulders.
#3 Cobra Pose.
- From downdog, come forward to a high plank position with your shoulders over your wrists, heels over toes and hips in one line with your spine.
- Slowly lower to your stomach, using your knees on the ground if you need.
- Untuck your toes, pressing the tops of your feet down to engage your thighs, and hug your elbows towards your ribs.
- Gently lift your chest any amount, keeping your shoulders away from your ears and the back of your neck long. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your elbows in to reach your chest more forward.
- Hang out in cobra for 10 breaths before lowering back down to stomach.
- Press back to a downward facing dog, lifting your hips towards the sky and creating an inverted V shape with your body. You can flow through 2 or 3 more cycles to warm up your body, starting in downdog, moving forward to high plank, lowering to your stomach, lifting your heart into cobra pose and pressing back to downdog. Start slowly and mindfully and as you begin to feel warmer you can match movement to breath to create even more heat in the body helping to release stickiness in your muscles..
Cobra pose creates space across the chest, and strength in the shoulders and spine. It’s also the action you make when you push up on a wave so it’s great preparation for your surf ahead.
#4 Humble Warrior II.
- After flowing through cobra 3-4 times, press back to a downdog.
- Step your right foot forward between your hands and spin your back foot to 90 degrees, preparing for warrior II. Check that your front foot is pointing forward, and that your front ankle is in line with the arch of your back foot.
- Rise your torso up perpendicular to the ground with your arms in a T shape at shoulder height. Bend deeply into your right knee so that your thigh is parallel to the ground, and press through the pinky toe edge of your back foot to strengthen your back thigh for more support.
- Interlace your hands behind your lower back, palms pressed together, shoulder blades squeezing towards one another.
- Fold forward inside of your right thigh, head relaxing towards the ground for a humble warrior. Your right ribs can rest on your right thigh to make it less intense for the hip. Hands can stay resting on your lower back or to deepen the stretch in your shoulders, reach your laced hands up and over your head. Be sure to engage your core to support your lower back and firmly press through both feet for stability.
- Stay here for 10 deep breaths.
This variation of a humble warrior is incredible for balance, strengthening legs and core, as well as creating space in the hip and shoulders.
#5 Twisted Lunge.
- Release your hands to the ground to frame your front foot, lift your back heel up and lower your back knee down. Keep your left fingertips down with your left wrist under your left shoulder.
- Reach your right arm towards the sky while you twist your chest open to the right. Think about stretching top hand up, bottom hand down so that you’re spacious through your chest. Healthy twisting originates from the center of your core so draw your low bellow in and feel that your spine remains long and neutral.
- Back knee can stay grounded, or to amp up the pose and create even more heat in the body lift your back knee up, firming your thigh by engaging your quadricep and lifting your back heel over your back toes.
- Stay in your twist for a few long breaths, sending your breath to the places that feel a little restricted.
Twisting releases tension in all the erector spinal muscles, which are crucial for surfing without pain and the overall health of your back.
#6 Plank Pose.
- Release from your twist, firmly place your hands on the ground before stepping back to a plank pose. Make sure that your shoulders are over your wrists, heels are over your toes and your hips are in one line with your spine. If your hips sink down below the height of your shoulders then place your knees on the mat for more support.
- Hold plank pose for 5 strong breaths (or longer if you’d like!) to strengthen your core muscles and warm the body.
- Press back to downward facing dog, either stay in downdog for a few breaths or cycle through the sequence, repeating the cycle on the opposite side. End in a downward dog to neutralize the spine.
In minutes only, you’ve warmed your body, stretched and strengthened every muscle used while surfing, as well as focused your mind and brought more awareness to the breath. You could not be more prepared for the surf of your life – get out there!
All photos featuring one of our yoga instructors in Nicaragua, Sally Rubin, 500hr ERYT + 200 hr Yoga Teacher Trainer. You can read more about her and see her schedule here!