Head out to most any lake this summer and you’re bound to see the newest water sport, paddle boarding. Well, paddle boarding isn’t exactly new, but it’s popularity is sure catching on! I just heard the other day that it is being considered as a new Olympic sport.
Paddle boarding is a great, full body workout that is easy and accessible to people of all activity levels. I love it because I can get a full body workout with out a lot of cardio. Although, doing yoga on your paddle board is a great way to add some cardio to your time out on the water.
Paddle boarding is a unique sport for the body. Most sports we encounter the muscles are doing what is called concentric and eccentric contractions. Meaning that the muscle is shortening and lengthening to create movement. Although this is true of the upper body as you use your arms to paddle and move you through the water, your legs and core are doing isometric contractions. They are contracted to stabilize you but they are not lengthening and shortening to create movement as in other sports.
This is great cross training for any other activity or sport that you do as isometric contractions engage different parts of the muscle, giving you more strength, stability and endurance.
What we see in the lower body with these isometric contractions is larger muscle groups working together. Typically done barefoot, paddle boarding is a great way to strengthen you feet, and can be helpful for those that have flat feet or fallen arches. It also helps to strengthen the stabilizer muscles in the ankles, great for those that are doing trail running.
Moving up the body, the isometric contractions in the quads and hamstrings can increase endurance in other sports such as running and biking.
And your core…..this is one of the best (and most fun) core workouts I’ve ever had. Balancing on the paddle board requires a lot of core strength. Going from kneeling to standing, standing on it’s own and then from standing to kneeling can seriously challenge all of your core muscles, especially those deep core muscles that are hard to work but oh so important to your posture and avoiding that nagging back pain.
Don’t forget your arms and upper body. Using your arms to paddle you through the water is a great all over upper body work out. Pecs, deltoids, triceps, lats….they all get a turn.
When you put the whole body together, your legs and core are stabilizing you as your arms move you through the water. You want to make sure that your feet are about hip width apart, a little wider if you are having trouble balancing. If you are paddling on the right side of the board, moving your left food forward a bit can help you get more rotation in your upper body. If you’re paddling on the left side of the board, move your right foot slightly forward. A slight twisting motion of the upper body as you paddle is great to assist you through the water. What you don’t want to do is bend at your waist to reach forward and use your lower back muscles to straighten up and move your paddle through the water. All of your paddle movement should come from the arms, with only a slight twist from the core or torso.
Knees should be soft with upper legs, both quads and hamstrings engaged. Glutes are strong and supporting the core. You should feel your core muscles deeply engaged. Not tight, but engaged and supporting your low back and torso.
Massage is great for paddle boarders. What we see with clients that do a lot of paddle boarding is in the lower body its usually whole muscle groups that are sore, overworked, or not engaging well (i.e. Hips, upper back, lower back, upper legs, etc). Massage can help identify areas that aren’t functioning properly due to hypertonicity (tight muscles), trigger points or adhesions (knots). Getting these worked out can greatly increase the amount of time you’re able to be on your board without fatigue. As well as improve flexibility if you’re prone to break out a yoga move or two while you’re on the water.
Sometimes as you start to work and engage those deep core muscles, the ones that stabilize your torso, you can get low back pain. Massaging these deep core muscles like your psoas, obliques and transverse abdominus, can keep your core strong without pulling on your lower back.
Same with your upper body. The arms can get a pretty intense workout paddling you around the water. Just like with the legs and core, massage can help to identify muscles that aren’t working well, help them to recover quicker so you can increase your endurance, strength and avoid injury.
Paddle boarding is an excellent workout and a great way to get some tranquil time on the water in the craziness that is summer. Massage can make your time on your board even more enjoyable.