Walking is easy right?
We learn to do it from around the first birthday mark and continue to work on it through our younger years until it becomes an action that we really think very little about. In this time we are building a base level of strength and function. When we want to go somewhere we just get up and our legs somehow get us from point A to point B. For the most part this serves us well and we can deal with the stresses placed on the body.
What happens when we choose to get out and be a little more adventurous?
Walking hills = Increased demand + increased need for strength
Let’s look at a popular local walk – Waterfall Gully up to My Lofty summit. The walk itself is fairly short, 2km to the top and a total of 475 metres of elevation gain.
Now let’s hypothesise that you weigh 65 kilos and are carrying a couple of litres of water, a snack and a camera. You need a camera to capture the waterfalls, abundant wildlife or the children/grandchildren running ahead. So you’ll have maybe a total of an extra five kilos (maybe 20 kilos if the grandchild gets tired and you have to carry them). So now you have 70 kilograms or more and you’re asking your body to haul you 475 meters into the sky, whilst covering 2 km of distance.
That’s a fairly big increase in stress that the body now has to deal with. What should you do now? Read on.
Add some strength training sessions to your week
Our bodies adapt to the stresses we place upon it and they do this quite efficiently. If you add increased load a few times per week (strength training) our bodies will adapt to these stresses and will become stronger and more able to cope with higher levels of stress. This results in a few things:-
- You will have a lower risk of injury
- A higher enjoyment rate during your walks
- You may even be able to keep up with the little ones.
Additionally, you also have the ability to test yourself more in some longer or more challenging walks. All in all, you will be more resilient and capable than before.
If you are unsure how to build strength, seek advice
Strength training can be beneficial to your health and well-being in many ways, if done incorrectly it can also potentially cause injury. If you are not experienced in strength training I would strongly advise you to seek professional advice and ensure you are both doing exercises correctly and that you have exercises prescribed that suit your specific needs.
In part 1 of this blog we looked at some possible issues surrounding surfing with restrictions in movement through the upper back and shoulders. This blog will take you through some exercises that can get your surfing injury free.
Now I will address how you can do a few simple assessments at home as well as give a couple of simple exercises to help get things moving better.
First, let’s assess poor posture and lack of movement.
Lets start looking at the first and second postures in figure 1. If we look at the basic posture here, the shoulders are rolled forwards and the upper back is in a slightly curved position.
Get a friend to have a look at you from side on. If this is your natural posture you may want to look at getting some expert advice on how you can improve your mobility and posture in this area. The exercises shown later will also help.
Figure 2a, 2b, & 2c
Figure 2(a,b & c) shows a simple exercise to assess your range of thoracic extension.
Stand naturally with feet shoulder width apart. Hold a broomstick with your hands a little wider than shoulder width (Fig 2a) and with straight arms bring the broomstick overhead (Fig 2b). If you need to extend through your lower back to get your hands directly overhead, then you may lack good movement through your upper back and shoulders.
Now for some basic exercises to help get things moving.
Figure 3(a &b) shows an upper back rotational exercise.
3a shows the start position, 3b represents the end position. The key here is that you keep your hips vertical so that the movement occurs through your upper spine rather than your lower spine.
Don’t force the movement, just go to the limit of range and breath and relax into the stretch. This exercise will help to free up the upper back allowing a better range of rotation as well as assisting extension movements.
Figure 4 Is a very simple upper back extension exercise using a rolled up towel.
You simply lie back over the rolled towel and relax. Gradually move the towel to different areas on the upper back to work on the whole area. This is simply a very gentle way to help promote extension through the upper spine.
This is just a snapshot of some possible ways you can aid your surfing performance. Through improving movement and posture, your paddling efficiency, strength and endurance will improve. You will also get a benefit in being able to get to your feet faster and more easily as well as being more balanced once you are on the wave. If you are continually getting injured or feel you aren’t getting the most out of your body, it may be a good idea to get some professional advice.