5 Key Surfing Injury Prevention Tips
From Errant Surf & Ryan Huxley
After 9 months of travelling, surfing extensively and operating Surfbodysoul from the road, I am residing again in Byron Bay. Luckily I timed my return with a tidy 6-foot south swell, and plenty of friends and clients to enjoy the lineups with.
The first question inevitably thrown my way was ‘when can I book a session with you in the studio’, usually followed by ‘my lower back has been killing me’, or ‘I can barely move my shoulder since you left’. This of course gave me a warm feeling inside knowing Surfbodysoul really helps surfers stay in the water, and therefore to some degree happy and content. The funny thing about this town is that its inhabitants are so habitually transient, that most people barely recognize your extended disappearance. On a personal level the time away has been nourishing both spiritually and professionally. Without partaking in a classically verbose, self-indulgent, cliché filled travel monologue some of the highlights are as follows:
The forgotten seaboard, temperate forests, and glacial peaks of the North West coast of the South Island, New Zealand. For me the ability of this climatically harsh playground to deliver surfing with snowcapped mountain backdrops was both humbling and awe-inspiring. Lets face it, when you can choose between a surf, snowboard, or breathtaking glacial hike on any given day life ain’t too bad. Hell you can squeeze all three into a day if you’re loose enough.
The people, food, culture, surprisingly fun uncrowded waves, and immensity of India. The ability to devote energy back to my Yoga, feel the deep roots of inspiration entwine me, and the saturation of new ideas for Surfbodysoul that this environment permitted. I was also able to teach Surfbodysoul surf fitness classes to a broad range of guests at the wonderful surf home stay, Soul & Surf India, with Ed and Sofie. For that many wonderful, eclectic surfers to float into my classes was inspirational.
The antiquated, if not prehistoric pulse of the little Andaman Island. Picture Jungle canopy you would expect to see in Equatorial West Africa with a sprinkle of south pacific coral sand, turquoise water, a 360 degree swell window, locals who have tasted human flesh in their lifetime, crocodiles, tiger sharks, wild boar, little to no medical help, and high quality reef passes. To be candid I experienced sickness and dehydration here that sent me into hallucinatory episodes and involuntary muscle spasms. That aside if someone offered me a ticket back there today I would be there.
Lets now focus on key tips to prevent injury and keep you in the water. Below I have included 5 principles of injury prevention:
1. Warm-up: Yes its logical and we all know warming up helps prepare the body for surfing, and reduces the risk of injury. Effective warm ups consist of both general and specific exercises. An example of a general warm up exercise would be a Yoga salute to the sun sequence. An example of specific exercise would be a surf specific lunge, that is an exercise that specifically replicates a movement or manouvre in the water. More specific benefits of a warm up include: Increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles, smoother muscle contraction and efficiency leading to smoother, graceful surfing, Increased speed of nerve impules thus improving reaction time on your board when you hit the water.
2. Stretching: Stretching allows the joints (where two bones connect) to move smoothly though a full range of motion, and is essential to increase performance in the water, reduce risk of injury, and is an important component in good health. Your stretching should ideally include a combination of static or still stretching such as a Yoga posture, and dynamic flexibility such as a moving Pilates sequence. Surfbodysoul applies these principles to include both static and dynamic stretches in your program.
3. Appropriate Training: From my experience training errors are among the most common predisposing factors in the development of sporting injuries. Normally this occurs when a surfer who has a complex injury history (for eg previous shoulder rotator cuff tear, complex knee injury, genetic predisposition etc) commences a general exercise program designed for the relatively healthy majority of surfers. This is why I offer a custom skype consult service to people in this position, whereby I conduct an interview to ascertain the exact injuries a surfer has had in the past and present, what movements aggravate their pain, what are their activity/surf limitations etc. I then customize a specific set of exercises to rehabilitate their injuries and advise them what exercises in my Surfbodysoul program will not be suitable for them, and what they can do instead. A trusted Physiotherapist or other qualified medical professional can assist you with this process.
4. Rest and sleep: Seems obvious but adequate rest and sleep are essential if a surfer is to cope with lots of water time and remain injury free. If you are balancing work, family and surfing in a busy life make time for a regular sleeping pattern and the odd weekend afternoon sleep if possible.
5. Good nutrition: Nutrition aids recovery from surfing by replenishing glycogen stores and by providing necessary protein and water. The ‘Australian Dietary Guidelines’ provide a simple, scientific, balanced and sustainable approach to adjusting your eating for optimal health and function in the water.
I hope these principles help you make small changes in your day to day life to achieve great benefits in your health.
I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!