If there is one thing you have taken with you from your first surf holiday and lessons it is that surfing consists of incredibly many components. Especially at the beginning they seem to be so many that it is difficult to make any progress at all. You can’t focus on everything at the same time. That goes for all of us. One thing is most important here to remember – patience and perseverance. Only those who stay at it consistently and with commitment will make progress. Tears, sweat and many bruises included.
Today we want to bring you closer to an essential part of surfing. Paddling. Because clearly, or not – without paddling there are no waves for you to surf. The hard part here – as in many other matters of life – is breaking bad habits and reshaping them. When we start surfing, we pay little attention to our paddling technique. In the foreground is the take-off and getting on the board. To hold on. Our muscle body is not used to working lying on its stomach and most surfers think surfing is done in the arms. Paddling, one thinks, is like swimming. And I can swim. Just like a bad posture, which we have acquired over the years, a bad paddling technique works hand in hand to give you a hunchback, hanging shoulders and neck pain eventually.
All this is basically related to how your body and upper body-shoulder area move and function correctly. So if you are already a surfer, read on from here in any case. If you are just about to learn how to surf, then read on as well, in order to prevent memorizing a wrong technique right at the beginning.
3 Truths to the most common paddling mistakes.
#1 With your head down you will not paddle faster
Some people will tell you to lower your head if you want to paddle faster. So you do exactly that in your next surf session and you have the feeling of gliding through the water at turbo speed. Well. Your body played a trick on you and you fell for it. You have lengthened the end of your neck and your upper body. This relaxes the muscles that are supposed to work to lift your chest. In addition, your shoulders now fall forward, causing your pectoral muscles to become activated and are thereby forced to do all the hard work alone. In this position, you are not using any of the correct muscles that will help you paddle efficiently over the long term. Much rather the result is the rounded shoulders and back we mentioned above. A generally poor posture as well. Which muscles should you use and how can you simply train them?
The muscles that change your paddling are in your back. More precisely, the large back muscles, as well as the muscles in the lower back and buttocks. If these muscles are under tension, your upper body rises and your shoulder joints have room for your complete range of motion needed for good and safe paddle strokes. You also ensure balance and stability on the board so that your board can glide better.
Lift your upper body and try to relax your shoulders and arms. Your arms only work under water – the moment your hands go into the water.
Imagine that to your fingertips are wooden strips along which you pull yourself forward. Try to reach these strips with your middle finger. Forget to bend your arms like crazy. Think of a rowing boat – your arms are the oars. Pull your hand back under the board, but not all the way to the back. Lift it out of the water, relax and then reach forward again to the wooden slats in front of you. Your upper body remains steady but slightly lifted. Voila!
#2 The key is in the back
As already indicated in #1, most of us believe that paddling only comes from the arms and shoulders. If you are one of them, then you rely on the rather small muscles in your body for your paddling success. Why though, if your giant Latissimus Dorsi is so close :)
It is one of the largest muscles in the body and excellent for paddling, good posture and to impress people with as many Chin-Ups as possible. Chin-ups are an excellent exercise to train this muscle group. Lie on your stomach. Tighten buttocks and body center so that you are stable in the pelvis. Move your hands to the back of the head and press your elbows backwards. Now lift and lower your upper body evenly. Raise your chin a little too – Chin up!
#3 Heavy weights are not helpful for your paddling power
We are not saying that heavy weights aren’t good for your paddling power. But leight weights are just as good, if not better. Your rotator cuffs play an important role here. They are essential for shoulder movement and safe paddling. Above all they love light weights with many repetitions. The muscle fiber gets only small cracks, which heal fast and build up the muscle. The result is a stronger foundation in the shoulders for paddling. Work with elastic bands to strengthen your rotator cuffs. Stretch after surfing. Above all – pay attention to your paddling and be careful how you move.
All of this should in no way have you lose motivation! Because as I said in the beginning – surfing is terribly complex and you have to pay attention to so many things. So it is just perfectly normal that sometimes something falls under the table :) However, to pay attention to a correct paddling technique at the start will help you to surf faster and will prevent you from developing bad posture and injuries in the back and shoulders.
In a good surf school you learn everything correctly straight from the beginning. You will find yourself in good hands to ask as many questions as you want to get tips on good and safe technique. For now we wish you a lot of fun in your next surf. Maybe our tips have helped you? Then leave us a comment. Yeeew!