This week we are tackling something all of us should do before we go on the water, but how many of us actually do? Stretching! Let's all get flexible and embrace the benefits of warming up and stretching effectively, helping to make the most of of every windsurfing or wing session afloat, whilst aiding post session recovery. Heading straight out on the water when muscles are cold or neglecting to stretch when back ashore increases the risk of muscle injury.
Windsurfing prep; a bit of a stretch, make it part of your routine! Here at The Official Test Centre we are so lucky to have our very own in-house expert when it comes to giving you the best advice on how to look after our bodies, be done with those post session aches and pains, and stretch safely. Follow our handy guide featuring a few suggested stretched for you to try from Surf Doctor guru Amanda Buggy, Soft Tissue Therapist. Amanda will demonstrate an example stretch for the different muscle groups and what to do! If you are a windsurfer, foiler or a winger you will not want to miss this flexy Friday blog!
By Emma Nicholson and Amanda Buggy.
Windsurfing and wing foiling use most almost all the muscles of the body including the forearms, shoulders, core muscle group, back, hips, lower and upper legs,
To prevent injury we should always ‘warm up’ by activating our muscles, prior to going on the water. ‘Activating’ our muscles through ‘dynamic’ movements are large movements which increases your heart rate and blood flow - it’s NOT the same as stretching! It’s not a good idea to stretch muscles which haven't been ‘warmed up’.
Examples of activation or dynamic movements are leg swings or static marching with high knees, arm circles, jumping jacks and lunges. These will all help get our heart rate up, blood flowing and loosen up our body.
Once off the water it’s really important to stretch, as this is also when injury can occur. Areas to stretch and concentrate on are muscles of the:
Lower and Up legs
There are lots of stretches, and you may have particular favourites, or parts of the body you know are affected when you are on the water and therefore need attention.
Here are just a few the OTC/Surf Doctor Team love, and you might like to try. Remember to repeat on both sides, and hold each stretch for a minimum count of 10-15, ideally longer!
Our wrists and forearms get a lot of use especially in windsurfing, so stretching these muscles post session can help prevent the development of tendon pain, and overuse injuries such as Tennis Elbow.
2 & 2a Deltoid
This stretch is for the upper arm and shoulder - Place your arm across your chest, putting resistance through the elbow with the opposite hand. To strengthen the stretch twist your forearm to 90º (2a)
To stretch your ‘Tricep’, your underarm between your elbow and shoulder, lift your arm above your head, putting resistance through the elbow with your opposite hand
To enhance this stretch and to incorporate the muscles of the mid and side back, lean into the stretch (3a Tricep and Lats) - Side bending your body away from your arm to create a stretch that should be felt down your side
4 & 4a Chest
Retracting the shoulder will open up and stretch the muscles in the front of the chest.
With your hands joined together behind your back, pull your arms backwards while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Hold the stretch and then relax
5 & 5a Back of thigh (Hamstrings)
Stretching the back of the leg (lower and upper) will also fend off lower back pain.
From standing, place your foot up on an object or on the floor, keep your leg
straight, and lean forwards. You can enhance this stretch by bringing your toes towards you.
You should feel a stretch behind your knee and into the back of your thigh as well as calf.
6. Further Chest
This stretches specific muscles of the chest, our ‘pectoral’ muscles, as well as upper arm/shoulder.
Either with a bent or straight arm, hook your fingers/hand around an object and lean forwards creating a stretch across your upper arm, front shoulder and into your chest.
7 & 7a Back Stretch
Stretching the back after being on the water is really important, it’s also a great one to repeat at home!
Lie flat on your back, bringing your knees in towards your chest, holding this position.
You should feel a gentle stretch into your back, and often round into your butt and backs of the legs.
8 Child Pose! - Another great back stretch
Kneel on the floor, initially sitting back on your heels, then roll forwards, extending your arms in front, folding from your hips so your forehead is eventually resting on the ground (or as near to the ground as you can get it!!)
For added stretch, lengthen through your arms, reaching forwards, lower your chest further to the floor. You should feel the stretch across and along your back.
We covered some of our favourites in this article, and there are many great stretches that you will benefit from incorporating into your session - We promise your body will thank you!!
Extra stretches to help other parts of our body include:
Extra: Butt Stretch
Extra: Lower back stretch
Extra: Inner thigh
Extra: Front thigh
The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, James Hardy, said: “I'm a little slow off the mark with my stretching mantra for 2024. I’m still trying to build up a bank of stretches but with some wise Yoga Influence, Happy Baby Pose is one I like, seems to do quite a lot just in one move. Also rolling a stiff ball under my foot with some pressure feels pretty good especially as our feet do a lot of work on a board, weather that’s on a wing or windsurf. For me I am starting to realise its importance as I want to stay flexible to continue doing what I love to prevent any unwanted injuries or little niggles.”
The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, Aaron Smith, said: "I have just started trying to stretch more since mid November! Still need to do it more regularly but getting there.. Trying every morning to take ten minutes and do a full body stretch. Starting at the top and working my way down I definitely need to spend more time and focus on the lower body, ankles and hamstrings in particular. Stretching is super important for windsurfing as the more flexible you are the more awkward the crashes you can have whilst remaining injury free and carrying on your session! Especially important in the freestyle discipline...before going afloat now ill spend a good few minutes on the ankles warming them up and making sure they have as much range of movement as possible before putting them to the test with my full body weight and a few footstraps."
The Official Test Centre, Team Rider, Simon Winkley said: "Now is a great time to be talking about this. By now I mean both in the cold season and in this moment in time. Windsurfers have largely neglected stretching for years, rigging and rushing out on the water, expecting that their body can go from zero to full power on demand. Possibly a reason for this complacency is that, once you are pretty competent at blasting in a line, gybing and blasting back, you tend to be operating in a zone that is relatively (yet not always!) risk free in terms of getting a strain (damage to tendons and muscles) or a sprain (damage to ligaments). People at every level, however, who are progressing with moves their bodies are unfamiliar with, are taking risks without stretching.
Simon, added:"I feel a change is coming, however, as attention to general fitness has sharpened with social media guidance and with more people than ever aiming for general fitness and endurance challenges. We are listening and stretching is becoming something that more and more windsurfers and wingers are thinking about and doing in their pre- and post-session phases. The difficulty for most of us, however, is that we are not entirely sure what to do. We may lack confidence in terms of when/what to stretch, how to do it, why and for how long.
"For me calf muscle stretching has always been important since my early days of snowboarding. A painful cramp is a possibility in an un-stretched calf muscle and I have experienced this several times in very cold water. Whilst this rarely causes muscle damage, it can give you severe short-term pain and put you at risk of requiring assistance to get back to the beach. "