Why Pilates helps cure ‘Surfers Back’
I was first exposed to Pilates after a surf trip on the south coast of NSW, Australia. This area is known for heavy reef breaks and equally challenging locals. While surfing a ledgy right I took off a little late (and lazy for that matter), was pitched, and subsequently slammed on the ocean floor. The end result was an acute unstable lower back. By this stage of my life I had developed a regular Yoga practice, which undoubtedly prevented more severe damage. After the incident I attempted to get back to my yoga practice yet found I still had residual lower back pain and discomfort. It was not until a friend introduced me to Pilates and the principle of ‘core strength’ that my back pain subsided and I was hooked, not long after training to become a teacher.
Joseph Pilates, a renowned fitness trainer, boxer and gymnast, first developed Pilates in the 1920’s. The key principle in Pilates is developing ‘core’ strength. This refers to strengthening a specialized group of deep abdominal muscles that support your lower back, pelvis and hip joints. These muscles are usually neglected in most forms of physical fitness training.
As a surfer Pilates will provide the following benefits:
Strengthens the deep abdominal muscles that support your lower back, pelvis and hip joints. This reduces risk of injury in and out of the surf.
A strong ‘core’ will allow you to transfer weight between your upper and lower body with greater strength, power and speed. This equates to more power on your board with less effort.
The lower back, pelvis and hip joints need to move through extreme ranges of movement during many surfing maneuvers. Strong ‘core’ and pelvic muscles add control to your surfing, allowing you to hold rail a little longer. This results in a more fluid, graceful sliding experience.
So add some Pilates into your surf fitness program and stave off the lower back gremlins. I look forward to seeing you on the mat, or in the water!
Ryan Huxley is the co-founder and program creator at Surfbodysoul, a website that provides safe, effective, holistic, scientific e-book exercise programs catering for surfers of all age, level and experience. Ryan is a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Advanced Yoga and Pilate’s instructor. His list of clients include Fergal Smith, Chippa Wilson, Anthony Walsh, Paige Hareb, Emi Cataldi & Rusty Miller.