What do Surfing and Dancing in the Rain have in Common?
Surfing is one of the most dynamic sports I have come across. As an Exercise Physiologist, my role is to assist surfers recover from injuries and best prepare their bodies for surfing. For my competitive surfers, it’s about getting the best out of their bodies and pushing their surfing to the limits. I have studied a myriad of different ways to exercise and train the body. I have watched the trends come and go in the health and fitness industries. Now that surfing is an Olympic sport, I see even more trainers popping up on the scene. Each of them offering their own bag of knowledge to the cacophony of training strategies.
The truth is because of its dynamic nature, surfing is one of the most difficult sports to prepare people for. How a surfer performs on any given day is not just dependent upon their body. Surfing performance is dependent upon the surfer, the equipment and the environment. I can prescribe exercises until the cows come home. However, any one of the variables I have just mentioned can completely undo the hard work in the gym.
Training for a Dynamic Sport
One of my number one strategies to train a surfer is to improve the communication within their body. Our bodies are responsive and communicative machines. In a dynamic environment, it should be able to cope. The more we can optimise on the communication system, the more responsive a surfer can be to the surf environment. That can mean:
- Getting quicker to your feet
- Moving your feet better on the board
- Feeling lighter on the board
- Being able to complete turns with ease and grace
- Being able to generate more explosive power with your turns
- Feeling more awake and in tune
- Generally surfing with more ease
Improving Communication Within The Body
This is where dancing in the rain comes into play. One of the best ways to improve your communicative ability is to get your feet moving! I am surprised by the number of surfers I see with ‘blocked’ feet and ankles. Your feet are literally in touch with your equipment and the environment when you surf. You get so much information through your feet. That information tells your body where it is in space. That information can tell your knees how far they need to flex. That information can tell your trunk how much in needs to rotate. If your feet aren’t working optimally, you are potentially reducing your surfing performance.
Dancers have incredibly ‘in tune feet’. Their feet are their workhorses and for surfers, it is much the same. Dancers in the rain? Well they just get to add water (J). I encourage surfers to use unique training techniques and mobility work for their feet. Using balance exercises and uneven floor surfaces can also help. Tools such as spikey balls and towels can come in handy. In addition, different and challenging floor surfaces can be used to stimulate the feet.
Surfing is an amazing and unique sport. Its dynamic nature requires a responsive body. Getting your body in tune by improving how well it is communicating may really assist with improving your surfing and reducing your risk of injury. Work with your beautiful and amazing feet. Feet really are the surfer’s work horse and they need to be given suitable attention. Also, maybe dance in the rain every now and then, it is good for the soul (pun intended).
Check out the video below if you want more proof on how much your feet move.