“Moving well is well, moving well. It’s about movements and positions, not exercise,” says Dr. Kelly Starrett. When taking up a sport that requires strength, balance, and muscular endurance, solid technique is a must have for sustainability and injury prevention. In stand up paddle boarding (SUP), sound technique is reflected in foot placement, paddling posture, and stroke efficiency. In preparing the body for a healthy SUP experience, we focus on four key elements: training barefoot, asymmetry, rotation, and balance/stability. Training barefoot allows for your feet and ankles to develop a feel for stabilizing and supporting your body during dynamic movements (ie. squats, cleans, presses, rotation, and balancing). This will make your time spent on your board more comfortable. When lifting, use a single Kettlebell instead of doubles to work one side at a time, enabling you to identify and address any imbalances. Working on rotation and trunk strength? Stand slightly staggered, like you would on your paddleboard, and turn your trunk (belly button and head aligned) away from whatever resistance you are using. Balance work can include single-leg work, on a solid surface or unstable, like a BOSU.
Movement preparation can include Animal Walks (ie. bear crawl, crab walk, monkey climb) and Get-Ups, to promote shoulder stability, trunk strength, and linkage through the body.
To address strength and stability in proper foot placement on your paddleboard (a slightly staggered step), body weight or loaded single-leg squats and single-leg deadlifts (a hip dominant, hinge-based movement) are effective movements. Paddling posture can be supported by practicing a tall, healthy posture in your everyday life, maintaining proper spinal alignment and completing mobility exercises to overcome adaptive shortening of musculature due to sedentary activities.
Pressing, planks and bridges are effective movements to support the core musculature. Chopping and combination pulling/rotation movements using dynamic resistance (ie. superbands, TRX Rip Trainer) prepare the body for the reaching and pulling requirements in a proficient stroke pattern. Performed in either a standing or half-kneeling stance, these movements can improve strength and power production, creating a more powerful stroke.
Ultimately, focus on quality of movement, strong, comfortable posture, and don’t forget to get in the water. There’s always a chance that you’ll end up in it, even if you aren’t planning to be.
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