I know that I am not the only female surfer who wants to pop up faster.
There aren’t many of us women out there surfing as it is, and I know I am not the only one who has turned the art of popping up into a game of seeing if the wave can peter out before I finally get to my feet.
It’s the bit between lying on my board, and standing on my board is the one minor detail which has foxed me for, ooohh, erm, well, about 20 years.
No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get up without first hauling myself to my knees. Then getting one foot up. And then finally getting myself up onto both feet. It was painful to do (sore tops of feet, anyone?) and even more painful to watch.
But suddenly: it happened.
I still can’t claim to be able to pop up on my board like a pro, but last weekend I properly PROPERLY was able to get up in less than 5 seconds. Which is amazing.
And it’s even more amazing because I hadn’t even been in the sea for over a month. So I got my shizzzzz on thanks entirely to exercises I’ve been doing thanks to Wendy Oliver from In Touch Studio.
So, in the interests of sharing my new-found upper body strength success with you, I’ve asked Wendy to explain one of the key exercises that can give any female surfer a boost: THE PUSH UP.
I can’t do them properly yet, but I’m getting there, and I’m convinced that learning to do them right is a big factor in my newly found surf-tastic skills!
Take it away, Wendy!
(and by the way, Wendy also contributed one of the fab recipes for my ebook: The Juice Party – thank you!)
Surfing and the push up
Whether you’re surfing for the first time, improving, or a pro surfer, there are a number of techniques you need to think about. Surfing is all about the flow, movement and reactive timing of muscle chains, so strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility, balance and agility all need consideration. Let’s look at core strength.
There are a few movements that surfers need to master when building strength and core control. One of the moves that all surfers will benefit from is the pushup.
With strength training, technique is crucial, so I’m going to explain how to make the push up ‘a perfect pushup’. Once you have mastered the concept there are many ways of integrating further degrees of difficulty into the exercise.
The push up will not only develop your core strength, so that you can prevent back injury, it will give you a more stable upper body, which is essential for getting your feet on the board and diving under breaking waves.
So here’s how to perform and progress your perfect pushup:
1. Maintain head & pelvic alignment
Your head needs to be in line with your spine; if your head is ducking forward as you lower your body then it shows weakness in some of your core back muscles. Likewise, if your pelvis is dipping then you don’t have the strength in your core to stabilise the movement.
Regress the exercise by holding the position still for a period of time until you have the strength to progress to movement.
2. Quality not quantity
Try to maintain focus on your form and work towards perfecting every single repetition. If you get too carried away with how many repetitions you can achieve then your alignment may slip and you will train yourself into moving badly; this is when muscle imbalances will occur.
3. Stay off your knees
We often drop our knees if we can’t perform a whole pushup, or when the exercise gets too difficult. Instead, use a higher surface so that your body is elevated, like a bench or a low wall, for example. This way the exercise is made easier by reducing the force of gravity. For surfing, the muscles need integration and by dropping your knees it changes the pattern of muscle integration.
So, there’s your perfect push up. Once you have mastered the basic push up with control, good form and alignment, then you can start to progress to more dynamic and explosive actions involving rotation and speed variations similar to the types of movements used on the surfboard. Get your push ups right and it’ll be a big step towards improving your surfing skills.
So, here’s to pushing up, popping up and generally getting up faster, smoother and enjoying the surf more!