Pilates improves balance, posture and agility in surfing and surfers. Simple Pilates exercises will boost your performance in the waves.
Modern surfers have been adding alternative physical fitness systems to their workout programs. Yoga and Pilates are becoming widely popular in contemporary surfing because the benefits are clear and almost immediate.
Pilates was first developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, a renowned fitness trainer, boxer and gymnast. 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 for your surfing:
Strengthens the deep abdominal muscles that support your lower back, pelvis and hip joints. This reduces risk of injury in the surf.
A strong ‘core’ will allow you to transfer weight between your upper and lower body with greater strength, power and speed. This in turn produces greater strength, power and speed through all of your surfing turns with less effort.
The lower back, pelvis and hip joints need to move through extreme ranges of movement during many surfing manoeuvres. Stronger ‘core’ muscles give you greater support and control through these extreme ranges of movement and creates ‘control’ in your surfing.
Think of your body as a surfboard! When we grab our new board we may not put any attention to that small piece of wood running longitudinal and center, known as a stringer. We specify every dimension such as height, width and thickness to a centimeter’s detail, yet it is through the genius of the stringer that these dimensions are obtained. It is the stringer that lends strength to the board without bulk. This gives way to high performance!
Our bodies also have inner lines, similar in function to a stringer. Through awareness of our body’s stringer, we are able to achieve greater mobility, stability and posture.
Like our surfboards, our stringer is in the middle, three dimensionally, from top to bottom. It starts from the crown of the head, passes through the throat, connects to the sternum, spills ahead of each vertebrae, behind the belly button, dangles pass the coccyx (tailbone), swings through the knees and lands between the feet, near feet arches and ankle bones. (Libby Jansen, 2010)
Keys to retrieving the inner line while paddling:
1. Reach through the crown of the head.
2. Draw chin to throat.
3. Pull belly button to spine.
4. Lengthen spine from tail bone.
5. Extend beyond big toes (called “first rays”).
6. Engage inner thighs to lift the pelvic “floor”.
7. Breath laterally across the back.
Pilates can help you achieve your surfing goals and ensure you are still surfing into your older years!