Stretching after a surf session is an oft-neglected but important aspect of the sport. No matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned surfer, it is vital that you stretch to maintain a healthy range of movement which to prevent long-term injuries and maintain that all-important flexibility.
Below is a well-rounded and gentle stretching routine which borrows from yoga to keep you limber and prepared for the next session catching waves. Do each pose in sequence and make sure you do both left and right sides before moving on to the next pose. Breathe through the stretches and don’t push too hard. If you’re tensing up or clenching, ease off – this sequence is supposed to restore you, not tire you out further! Lastly, make sure to rest in shavasana at the end of it for at least 5-10 minutes.
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Extend the upper back and breathe into your spine. Feel your ribcage expand and shoulders relax.
Bend your knees and, with an inhale, step your left foot back toward the back edge of your mat, with the ball of the foot on the floor. Step back far enough so that your right knee can form a right angle. Breathe into the hips and feel your abductors stretch. Stay here for 5 breathes, then switch sides.
Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. As you exhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward. Transition 5 times between cat and cow gradually and smoothly with the breath.
From all fours, walk your knees as far apart as they will allow comfortably, without straining. The inside knife edge of your feet should be touching the ground, knees bent to 90-degree-angles. Inhale, and elongate the spine by energetically extending the crown of the head and the tailbone in opposite directions. Exhale, and while engaging your core, lower down to your forearms, making sure your elbows are stacked right below your shoulders. Now soften the heart and the belly and allow your hips to draw back and down. Stay here for five breaths or one minute, and breathe deeply.
Baby cobra pose
From your belly, place your palms on the floor next to your chest, with fingertips in line with the front of your shoulders. Hug your elbows to your sides. Press your hands firmly into the floor and begin to lift your chest into a mild backbend. Keeping your elbows drawn into your sides, actively press your shoulder blades into your upper back. Now broaden and expand your chest, pulling your heart forward and up. Imagine your upper chest is a sail that has just caught a gust of wind.
Prone shoulder stretch
Grab a towel and lie on your stomach. Stack your shoulders on your back and grab the towel with both hands. Extend your arms and pretend like you’re trying to tear the towel in half. Lift a bit through your chest without tensing your neck and hold for about 20 seconds. Remember to keep rolling your shoulders back and down.
Upward-facing dog pose
Inhale and press your inner hands firmly into the floor and slightly back, as if you were trying to push yourself forward along the floor. Then straighten your arms and simultaneously lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor on an inhalation. Keep the thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward. Your feet and elbows should come off the floor. Press hands and shoulders to avoid hunching up around your ears.
Begin in a low lunge with your right foot forward. If this is too intense on your hamstrings, bend your knees until your muscles can relax. Breathe here at least three breaths. Release your left knee down to the ground. Walk your hands back as you reach your hips back toward your left heel and lengthen your right leg. Relax and fold forward over your right thigh. Breathe here for at least three deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Downward-facing dog pose
In this classic yoga pose lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins. Then with an exhalation, push your top thighs back and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them. Firm the outer thighs and roll the upper thighs inward slightly. Narrow the front of the pelvis. Stay here for five breaths and feel the back of your legs stretch.
Thread the needle stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Bend one of your legs so that your foot rests on the other thigh. Reach through the space between your legs and gently pull your bent knee close to your chest. Hold the stretch for 3-6 counts. Return and switch sides. From there transition into…
A great pose for releasing tension in the lower back and hamstrings. To intensify the stretch look off the opposite arm and keep the opposite shoulder grounded. Breath length into the leg. You’re almost there!
Lie on your back with a neutral spine and breathe deeply in and out through your abdomen for 5-10 minutes. Relax and listen to the sounds of Majon beach.